Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals

A service animal is a dog (or miniature horse) trained to work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. The dog must be properly harnessed and trained by a qualified person to aid and guide a person with a disability.

Comfort animals (also known as emotional support animals or assistance animals) are not trained to perform specific tasks, but provide comfort to a person with a psychiatric disability. Any animal can be a “comfort animal” as long as it does not pose a direct threat to the health and safety of others, will not cause substantial physical damage to the property of others, and will not fundamentally affect the operations of the residence hall.

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Where can these animals go?

Service dogs may enter all campus facilities, including housing and classrooms. They may always accompany the individual for whom they perform a task. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) authorizes the rights of individuals with service dogs.

Comfort animals are restricted to housing. The law governing comfort animals is the Fair Housing Act.

How can someone be approved to have a service dog or comfort animal?

Students who need a service dog or assistance animal must submit medical documentation to the Office of Disability Services. Comfort animals are approved as a “reasonable accommodation” in housing.

Are there additional costs for the resident?

There are no additional charges for residential students approved for service dogs or comfort animals.

What is the resident’s responsibility?

Residents assisted by service dogs or comfort animals must ensure that their animals are under control at all times, do not damage property, and do not pose a significant threat to anyone on campus. The resident is responsible for all feeding, caring for, and cleaning up after the animal. All residential students, including students with service dogs or comfort animals, must follow the SUNY Geneseo residential license. The license includes these responsibilities:

A student’s obligation also includes:

  • care and cleaning of room/suite/townhouse;
  • maintenance of health and safety standards;
  • responsibility for all activities and items in the room/suite/townhouse about which he/she could reasonably be expected to know;
  • responsibility to respond to the official directions of residential staff, who have broad supervisory authority for the administration of their halls;
  • adherence to recycling guidelines set for SUNY Geneseo