Use of Assistance Animals

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act and other laws, students, staff and visitors may be entitled to bring Service or Emotional Support Animals with them to campus and other University properties.

The University of Rochester Policy on the Use of Assistance Animals describes the circumstances in which such animals may be present and contains relevant definitions.

Quick facts

  • Service Animals can go almost anywhere on campus, but Emotional Support Animals are only permitted in individual residence hall living spaces. Service Animals can only be dogs, while ESAs can be any animal. Accordingly, students, staff and visitors may never bring an animal that is not a dog into non-residence spaces (e.g. classes, dining halls, libraries) on campus.
  • Service Animals are not required to be certified or to wear special tags or vests. Many Service Animals, however, will have such visible identifiers.
  • Where a dog’s purpose is not obvious (as it would be if guiding a blind person, e.g.), staff, students and faculty may ask if it is a Service Animal but should not ask other questions. For example, you may not ask for documentation, demonstration of training, or for specifics about the Owner’s medical condition. If the Owner says that the animal is not a Service Animal, you may ask for the animal to be removed. Otherwise it must be permitted to stay.
  • If a Service Animal is behaving poorly and/or being disruptive (e.g. barking, jumping, relieving itself) you may ask the Owner to control the animal or remove it if it cannot be controlled.
  • If an Owner is asked to leave with the animal in such circumstances, faculty or staff are under no obligation to cancel the class or other program (e.g. performance) in progress.
  • If the animal is well controlled, but a fellow student or other person in the area objects to its presence, (e.g. because of allergies or fear), try to resolve the conflict by moving one person or the other within the class or other space. If the conflict cannot be resolved, you may ask the objecting person to leave the area because by law, the Owner is entitled to have the Service Animal present.
  • Any behavioral or other concern that arises in the residence halls regarding an Emotional Assistance Animal should be brought quickly to the attention of Residential Life or the Associate Vice Provost of Disability Compliance (275-9125).
  • At the conclusion of the class or other program in which some form of conflict or behavioral issue arises concerning the dog, please call the University’s Associate Vice Provost of Disability Compliance, at 275-9125, as soon as convenient.
  • In the event of a significant disturbance or threat to health or safety relating to any animal, call the University’s Department of Public Safety, at 275-3333.

University of Rochester Policy on the Use of Assistance Animals

Adopted: November 9, 2016

I. Introduction

The University of Rochester recognizes the importance of Service and Emotional Support Animals (collectively, “Assistance Animals”) to individuals with disabilities. This Policy is intended to confirm the University’s commitment to allowing individuals with disabilities to use such animals to facilitate their full participation in and equal access to University Property, programs and services. It also describes the procedures and requirements that apply to the use of Assistance Animals on property that is owned, leased or controlled by the University (“University Property”).

II. Applicability

This Policy applies to all University of Rochester students and visitors. It also applies to residents of housing that is owned, leased or controlled by the University (“University Housing”) that is provided to students, staff, dependents, and other legally permitted occupants.

This Policy does not apply to patients of Strong Memorial Hospital and other clinical areas of the University of Rochester Medical Center. The policy applicable to such settings is Strong Memorial Hospital Policy 10.8. This policy also does not apply to employees who request to have Assistance Animals in their place of employment. Staff and faculty who may need to bring Assistance Animals to work should contact the Office of Human Resources.

III. Policy

It is the policy of the University of Rochester to comply fully with the Americans with Disabilities Act as Amended, the Rehabilitation Act of 1974, the Fair Housing Act, the New York State Human Rights Law, and other applicable laws and regulations pertaining to the use of Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals by persons with disabilities. Such persons will be permitted the use of Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals on University property or in University programs when required by law and subject to the terms of this policy.

IV. Definitions

  1. Service Animal
    A service animal is a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. Examples of such work or tasks provided by a Service Animal include but are not limited to guiding a person who is blind, alerting a person who is deaf to a sound, and pulling a wheelchair. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task (s) the service animal has been trained to provide must be directly related to the individual’s disability.
  2. Emotional Support Animal
    An Emotional Support Animal is an animal that provides emotional support or other psychological assistance, which alleviates the effects or symptoms of a person’s disability. Unlike a Service Animal, an emotional support animal does not require training and does not perform work or assist an individual with a disability with activities of daily living.
  3. Pet
    A pet is an animal kept for ordinary use and companionship unrelated to a disability. A pet is not considered a service animal or an emotional support animal and therefore it is not covered by this policy. Pets are not permitted on University property.
  4. Owner
    An Owner is a person with a disability who possesses and uses an Assistance Animal on University Property. As required by New York State Law, an Owner also includes a person who is not disabled but who is qualified to train Service Animals, and who is actually engaged in such training when the animal is on University Property.

V. Where are Assistance Animals Permitted

Service Animals are permitted to accompany their owner at all times on University property, except (i) in animal research facilities, (ii) as described in Strong Memorial Hospital policy 10.8, or (iii) where the animal’s presence poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others.

An Emotional Support Animal is permitted only in certain areas of University Housing (as described below), and only if the animal has been approved, per the procedures described below, as necessary because of the Owner’s disability and to afford the Owner an equal opportunity to use and enjoy University Housing. To be approved, the animal’s presence must not present an undue administrative burden or fundamental alteration of a program, nor a direct threat to the health or safety of others. Within University Housing, the animal is permitted to accompany its owner only in privately assigned living spaces (not in laundry rooms, lounges, kitchens or study rooms, e.g.) except when necessary to take the animal out for natural relief, when the animal may be in corridors. Any time it is out of the private living space, the Emotional Support Animal must be in a carrier or controlled by leash or harness. Emotional Support Animals are not allowed in classrooms, labs, libraries, dining halls, or other public or work spaces outside University Housing.

VI. Documentation Required

Service Animals: Owners may not be required to produce documentation of their disability or the dog’s training, demonstrate the dog’s training, or show proof of its certification as a Service Animal. When it is not obvious what tasks a Service Animal provides, only limited questions of the Owner are permitted. The questions are whether (1) the Service Animal is required because of a disability and (2) the Service Animal has been individually trained perform a task for the owner’s benefit.

Emotional Support Animals: As is the case for any accommodation for a disability, an Owner must provide documentation that he or she is disabled as defined by law and that having an Emotional Support Animal is a reasonable accommodation for that disability or is necessary to allow the Owner equal access to University Housing. For more information on how and where to submit documentation, see or contact the University Associate Vice Provost of Disability Compliance, at 275-9125.

VII. Procedures

  1. Service Animals
    No advance permission is generally needed for students or visitors to be accompanied by Service Animals on University property – with the exception of Owners who wish to reside in University Housing with Service Animals. In such cases, Owners will be required to submit a formal request through the process for requesting accommodations in housing (see below) so that the University has notice of the intended presence of the animal and can make housing decisions appropriately. Documentation of disability will not be required, but the requestor must affirm that the Service Animal meets the criteria described above.
  2. Emotional Support Animals
    1. The initial step for a person requesting an Emotional Support Animal in University Housing is to complete a request for accommodation as described in
    2. The student will need to provide documentation from a qualified, licensed healthcare provider that meets the University’s guidelines for documenting a disability.
    3. The healthcare provider will need to document that the animal provides emotional support that alleviates one or more of the identified symptoms or effects of an existing disability.
    4. The Associate Vice Provost of Disability Compliance will review the request and if approved will notify the Office for Residential Life and Housing Services (“Residential Life”).
    5. A staff member from Residential Life will meet with the student and review rules and regulations regarding the animal.

    In considering whether the presence of an Assistance Animal is reasonable, the University may take into account the following:

    1. The size of the animal is too large for available assigned housing space;
    2. The animal’s presence would force another individual from housing (e.g. serious allergies)
    3. The animal’s presence otherwise violates other individuals’s rights to peace and quiet enjoyment of housing;
    4. The animal is not housebroken or is unable to live with others in a reasonable manner;
    5. The animal’s required vaccinations are not up to date;
    6. The animal poses or has posed in the past a direct threat to the Owner or others, such as by exhibiting dangerous or aggressive behavior; or
    7. The animal causes or has caused excessive damage to housing beyond reasonable wear and tear.
  3. Roommate Acknowledgement
    If a roommate or suitemate objects to the animal’s presence for reasons other than medical (such objections to be resolved as per the Conflicting Disabilities Section below), Residential Life and/or the University Ombuds will work to resolve the conflict, which may require one or more students, including the Owner, to be relocated. Residential Life also reserves the right to assign an Owner to a single room.
  4. Owner Acknowledgement
    Each person approved to have an Assistance Animal in housing will be required to sign a form affirming that the person has read, understood, and agrees to be bound by this Policy.

VIII. Conflicting Disabilities

Students with medical condition(s) that have a health or safety-related concern about exposure to an animal should immediately contact Residential Life. Documentation of a medical condition will be required. Residential Life and other staff will work to resolve a conflict, considering the conflicting needs and/or accommodations of all persons involved.

IX. Responsibilities of Persons with Service or Emotional Support Animals

  1. The Owner is financially responsible for the actions of the approved Assistance Animal, including any destruction of University property or personal injury.
  2. Emotional Support Animals may only travel to/from an individually assigned living space in University Housing.
  3. The animal must be leashed or otherwise within the owner’s control at all times when it is outside the personal living space (e.g. dormitory room) of the owner. Animals being significantly or repeatedly disruptive or out of control may be removed by University staff.
  4. The animal must be licensed and properly vaccinated as required by law. Dogs must have a current rabies vaccination and wear a rabies vaccination tag.
  5. The Owner must regularly feed and water the animal and give it the exercise and other care appropriate to the animal.
  6. The Owner must not leave the animal in the care of others on a regular or prolonged basis.
  7. The Owner must clean up and properly dispose of animal waste. Disposing of animal feces in inside garbage disposal units is not permitted. Animal waste must be bagged and deposited in an outside receptacle. Residential Life may impose additional restrictions.
  8. If the animal is no longer needed or is to be replaced, an Owner must notify Residential Life and may be required to go through the approval process again, depending on the circumstances.
  9. Residential Life reserves the right to periodically inspect living spaces for fleas, ticks or other pests. If such pests are present, the Owner will be financially responsible for any necessary fumigation or other remediation.
  10. Owners are responsible to comply with all other Residential Life policies and procedures applicable to all students generally, except as described herein.

X. Removal of Animal

The University may remove or exclude an Assistance Animal that (1) poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others, (2) fundamentally alters a University program, (3) imposes an undue administrative or financial burden upon the University, (4) creates an unmanageable disturbance or interference with the University community, or (5) violates the requirements of this Policy.

XI. Additional Information

Attached to this policy is additional information about how practically to address common or foreseeable issues that may arise from the presence of Assistance Animals on University property.