Emotional Support Animals
Suffolk University recognizes the importance of Emotional Support Animals to individuals with disabilities and has established the following policy regarding Emotional Support Animals. This policy ensures that people with disabilities, who require the use of Emotional Support Animals to provide equal access or as a reasonable accommodation, receive the benefit of the therapeutic support they provide. Suffolk is committed to allowing people with disabilities the use of an Emotional Support Animal in campus housing in accordance with the rules set forth below.
In accordance with the Fair Housing Act, residence students with documented disabilities are permitted to have an Emotional Support Animal in University housing when that Emotional Support Animal has been approved by the University as an accommodation. Emotional Support Animals are allowed only in the residence hall unit or campus apartment to which the individual with a disability is assigned by Residence Life and Housing Services. Individuals who do not live in University housing are not permitted to bring Emotional Support Animals to any University facilities.
Students with disabilities in the College of Arts and Sciences or the Sawyer School of Business who have questions about Emotional Support Animals should contact the Office of Disability Services. Students with disabilities in the Law School who have questions about Emotional Support Animals should contact the Dean of Students for the Law School. Employees with disabilities who have questions about Emotional Support Animals should contact Human Resources.
Definition of an Emotional Support Animal
Emotional Support Animals provide well-being, comfort, or companionship which alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person's disability. Emotional Support Animals are not Service Animals under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Therapy dogs are also not considered Service Animals when those dogs have not been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. Some, but not all, animals that provide emotional support for persons with disabilities are professionally trained. Other Emotional Support Animals are trained by their Owners. In some cases, no special training is required. The Office of Disability Services will determine whether or not the animal provides the benefit needed as a reasonable accommodation by the person with the disability.
Health and Well-being of an Assistance Animal
- Vaccination: In accordance with local ordinances and regulations, the Emotional Support Animal must be immunized against diseases common to that type of animal. Dogs must have current vaccination against rabies and wear a rabies vaccination tag. Although not mandated, cats should have the normal shots required for a healthy animal. Local licensing requirements must be followed.
- Health: Emotional Support Animals must be in good health as documented annually by a licensed veterinarian. Documentation can be a vaccination certificate for the Emotional Support Animal or a veterinarian's statement regarding the animal's health. The University has authority to direct that the Emotional Support Animal receive veterinary attention. Local licensing laws must be followed.
- Leash: If appropriate, the Emotional Support Animal must be on a leash, unless the leash would inhibit the Emotional Support Animal's ability to be of service.
- Other Conditions: The Office of Disability Services may place other reasonable conditions or restrictions on the Emotional Support Animal depending on the nature and characteristics of the Emotional Support Animal.
Procedures for Residence Students to Request Approval to Keep an Emotional Support Animal
A residence student requesting permission to keep an Emotional Support Animal in University housing must make a formal request to the University using this form. The completed form is due to the Office of Disability Services no later than July 1st for new students and February 1st for returning students. While applications submitted after these dates will be accepted and considered, Suffolk University cannot guarantee that it will be able to meet late applicants’ accommodation needs, including any needs that develop during the semester.
Documentation of the need for an Emotional Support Animal should follow the Office of Disability Services’ guidelines for documentation of disability, and should generally include the following information:
- Verification of the student’s disability from a physician, psychiatrist, social worker, or other mental health professional
- Statement on how the Emotional Support Animal serves as an accommodation for the documented disability from a physician, psychiatrist, social worker, or other mental health professional
- Statement on how the need for the Emotional Support Animal relates to the ability of the student to succeed at the University
- Current documentation of items requested must be dated within the last 12 months.
The Office of Disability Services will review documentation and arrange a meeting with the residence student requesting that an Emotional Support Animal be permitted in University housing. This policy will be carefully reviewed with the residence student at that time.
The Department of Residence Life & Housing Services will make a reasonable effort to notify tenants in the residence building where the Emotional Support Animal will be located. Students with medical condition(s) who are affected by animals (e.g., respiratory diseases, asthma, severe allergies) are asked to contact the Office of Disability Services if they have a health or safety related concern about exposure to an Emotional Support Animal. Students with concerns not related to a medical concern should bring their concerns to the Director of Residence Life and Housing. The University is prepared to also reasonably accommodate individuals with such medical conditions that require accommodation when living in proximity to Emotional Support Animals.
The Office of Disability Services and the Office of Residence Life & Housing Services will resolve any conflict in a timely manner. Staff members will consider the conflicting needs and/or accommodations of all residence students involved.
Residence students, whose request for an Emotional Support Animal through this process is not granted, will have the opportunity to appeal such decisions. Information regarding grievances is available here. Students will also receive information about the appeals process upon notification of the decision regarding the request for disability accommodations. Appeals will be heard by the Associate Dean of Students, or designee.
Owner's Responsibility for Emotional Support Animals in the Residence Halls
The Owner is responsible for assuring that the Emotional Support Animal does not unduly interfere with the routine activities of the residence hall or cause difficulties for students who reside there. The Owner is also responsible for ensuring that the Emotional Support Animal remains in the Owner's residence hall unit or campus apartment. Other than when entering and exiting the Residence Hall, the Emotional Support Animal is not permitted elsewhere in the Residence Hall or in any other campus facility or on other University property.
- The Owner is financially responsible for the actions of the Emotional Support Animal including bodily injury or property damage. The Owner’s responsibility covers but is not limited to replacement of furniture, carpet, window, wall covering, and the like. The Owner is expected to cover these costs at the time of repair and/or move-out.
- The Owner is responsible for providing the Office of Disability Services with emergency contact information for an off-campus individual who can provide care for and make care based decisions for the animal in the event that the Owner is unable to do so.
- The Owner is responsible for any expenses incurred for cleaning above and beyond a standard cleaning or for repairs to University premises that are assessed after the student and Emotional Support Animal vacate the residence. The University shall have the right to bill the student account of the Owner for unmet obligations.
- The Owner must notify the Office of Disability Services in writing if the Emotional Support Animal is no longer needed as an Assistance Animal or is no longer in residence. To replace an Emotional Support Animal, the Owner must file a new “Housing Accommodation Form.”
- The Owner's residence may be inspected for pests once a semester or as needed. The Department of Residence Life & Housing will schedule the inspection. If pests are detected through inspection, the residence will be treated using approved fumigation methods by a University-approved pest control service. The Owner will be billed for the expense of any pest treatment above and beyond standard pest management in the residence halls.
- Emotional Support Animals may not be left overnight in University housing to be cared for by another student.
- Emotional Support Animals must be taken with the student if they leave campus for a prolonged period.
- The Department of Residence Life & Housing may relocate the Owner and Emotional Support Animal as necessary according to the license agreement.
- The Owner agrees to continue to abide by all other residential policies. Reasonable accommodation which may constitute an exception to a policy that otherwise would prohibit having an animal does not constitute an exception to any other policy.
- Any violation of the above rules may result in immediate removal of the Emotional Support Animal from the University and may be reviewed through the Student Conduct System and the Owner will be afforded all the rights and procedures provided by that process.
- The Owner undertakes to comply with animal health and well-being requirements described in this policy.
Guidelines for Maintaining an Emotional Support Animal
The following guidelines apply to all Emotional Support Animals and their Owners unless the nature of the documented disability of the Owner precludes adherence to these guidelines, and permission for a variance from the guidelines has been granted by the Office of Disability Services.
- Care and supervision of an Emotional Support Animal are the responsibility of the Owner. The Owner is required to maintain control of the Emotional Support Animal at all times.
- The Owner is responsible for ensuring the cleanup of the Emotional Support Animal's waste. Indoor animal waste must be placed in a sturdy plastic bag before being disposed.
Removal of Emotional Support Animals
Suffolk University may exclude/remove an Emotional Support Animal when the Emotional Support Animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others or the Emotional Support Animal.
Disruption: The Owner of an Emotional Support Animal that is unruly or disruptive may be asked to remove the Emotional Support Animal from University facilities. If the improper behavior happens repeatedly, the Owner may be required to take significant steps to mitigate the behavior before bringing the Emotional Support Animal into any University facility. Mitigation may include, but is not limited to, muzzling a barking animal, obtaining refresher training for both the Emotional Support Animal and the Owner, other appropriate measures.
Damage: Owners of Emotional Support Animals are solely responsible for any damage to persons or University property caused by their assistance animals.
Exceptions may be granted on a case-by-case basis. To request an exception, the Owner must contact the Office of Disability Services or, in the case of law students, the Law School Dean of Students Office, or in the case of employees, Human Resources.
Requirements for Faculty, Staff, Students, and Other Members of the University Community
Members of the University community are required to abide by the following practices:
- They are not to touch or pet an Emotional Support Animal unless invited to do so.
- They are not to feed an Emotional Support Animal.
- They are not to deliberately startle an Emotional Support Animal.
- They are to immediately report any disruptive behavior to SUPD.
- They are not to separate or attempt to separate an Owner from his/her Emotional Support Animal.
- They are not to inquire for details about the Owner's disability(ies). The nature of a person's disability is a private matter.
Any questions regarding Emotional Support Animals or their handlers should be directed to the Office of Disability Services.