Service and Assistance Animals in Campus Housing

Approved by the President
March 28, 2012

Policy Contact
Office of Student Affairs
119 Netzer Administration Building

Policy statement

SUNY Oneonta abides by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Fair Housing Act (FHAct), and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 in regards to allowing service and assistance animals in campus housing.


The Department of Justice’s (DOJ) amendments includes a narrow definition of service animals which excludes emotional support animals. The FHAct and Section 504 allow emotional support (assistance) animals as a reasonable accommodation.

Applicability of the policy

SUNY Oneonta abides by both policies although the applicability of FHAct to our housing is in question. Until such time that our housing has been excluded from the FHAct and Section 504, we will follow those policies in addition to those of ADA.

Policy elaboration

The ADA regulations have been amended recently and it is necessary to have our policies and procedures up to date.


The ADA defines a service animal as “any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA. “(ADA 2010 Revised Requirements, US Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Disability Rights Section).

A request to have a service animal is not handled as a request for reasonable accommodation; no test or analysis is applied to the use of a service animal. The service animal must be allowed to accompany the individual where she/he is normally allowed to go.

Under FHAct and Section 504, individuals with disabilities may request an assistance animal as a reasonable accommodation. In order to qualify, the animal must be necessary to afford the individual an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling or to participate in the housing service or program. Further, there must be a relationship, or nexus, between the individual’s disability and the assistance the animal provides. If the requirements are met, the housing facility must permit the use of the assistance animal unless it can demonstrate that doing so would impose an undue financial or administrative burden or would fundamentally alter the housing program.


Students who are looking to have an Emotional Support Animal on campus must meet with the Associate Director of Accessibility Resources before receiving the application. Students submitting a completed ESA application must also register with Accessibility Resources at the same time.

Please go to the How to Register with Accessibility Resources page fill out a "New Student Accommodation Request" - The student must use their SUNY Oneonta email address when filling out this form.

The student can email or call (607-436-2137) to make an appointment. The Accessibility Resources office will be open from 8 AM to 4 PM (Monday through Friday).


The forms are available in the Office of Residential and Community Life, at the Office of Students With Disabilities.

Related documents/policies


Back to top