Service Animals Policy

Suffolk University recognizes the importance of Service Animals to individuals with disabilities and has established the following policy regarding Service Animals. This policy ensures that people with disabilities, who require the use of Service Animals to provide equal access or as a reasonable accommodation, receive the benefit of the work or tasks performed by such animals and/or the therapeutic support they provide. Suffolk is committed to allowing people with disabilities the use of a Service Animal on campus to facilitate their full-participation and equal access to the University’s programs and activities, in accordance with the rules set forth below. Set forth below are specific requirements and guidelines concerning the appropriate use of and protocols associated with Service Animals.

In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Service Animals are permitted in University facilities for persons with disabilities. Access for Service Animals in university buildings, residence halls and/or at university events does NOT require documentation of disability.

Students with disabilities in the College of Arts and Sciences or the Sawyer School of Business who have questions should contact the Office of Disability Services. Students in the Law School who have questions should contact the Law Dean of Students Office. Employees should contact Human Resources. Visitors to Suffolk’s campus seeking further information regarding Service Animals should contact the coordinator of the program or event that they will be attending. Suffolk University reserves the right to amend this policy as circumstances require.

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. In some cases, a miniature horse may be permitted as a Service Animal. Other animals, whether wild or domestic, do not qualify as Service Animals.

Examples of such work or tasks include, but are not limited to guiding a person with impaired vision, alerting a person with a hearing loss, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with a mental health condition to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, and/or performing other duties. Service Animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a Service Animal 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.

The following guidelines apply to all Service 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, Law School Dean of Students Office or Human Resources Office.

Care and Supervision: Care and supervision of a Service Animal are the responsibility of the Owner. The Owner is required to maintain control of the Service Animal at all times. The Owner is responsible for ensuring the cleanup of the Service Animal's waste. Indoor animal waste must be placed in a sturdy plastic bag before being disposed.

Removal of Approved Animals: Suffolk University may exclude/remove a Service Animal when (i) the Service Animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others; (ii) the Service Animal’s presence results in a fundamental alteration of the University's program; or (iii) the Owner does not comply with Owner’s responsibilities in University housing, in University facilities and/or at University events.

Disruption: The Owner of a Service Animal that is unruly or disruptive may be asked to remove the Service 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 Service Animal into any University facility. Mitigation may include, but is not limited to, muzzling a barking animal, obtaining refresher training for both the Service Animal and the Owner, and other appropriate measures.

Damage: Owners of Service Animals are solely responsible for any damage to persons or University property caused by their Service Animals.

Areas off Limits to Animals: The University may prohibit the use of Service Animals in certain locations because of health and safety restrictions. Restricted areas may include, but are not limited to: custodial closets, boiler rooms, facility equipment rooms, research laboratories, classrooms with research/demonstration animals, areas where protective clothing is necessary, wood and metal shops, motor pools, rooms with heavy machinery, and areas outlined in state law as being inaccessible to Service 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 or the appropriate department representative.

Identification, License, and Tags: The Service Animal should wear a harness, identification tag or other gear that identifies its working status. If there is not a visible tag, University officials may ask the handler if the Service Animal is a working animal. All Service Animals must have an Owner identification tag. If the Service Animal is a dog, it must be licensed from an approved training program or have current license tags from local authorities.

Training: Service Animals must be individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of the individual with a disability.

Control: If appropriate, the Service Animal must be on a leash, unless the leash would inhibit the Service Animal's ability to be of service. Otherwise the Service Animal must be under voice control.

Health: The Service Animal must be in good health. Service Animals living in University housing must have an annual clean bill of health from a licensed veterinarian.

Vaccination: In accordance with local ordinances and regulations, the Service 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. Local licensing requirements must be followed.

Other Conditions: The Office of Disability Services, the Law School Dean of Students, Residence Life & Housing Services or Human Resources may place other reasonable conditions or restrictions on the Service Animal depending on the nature and characteristics of the Service Animal.

  • The Owner is responsible for assuring that the Service Animal does not unduly interfere with the routine activities of the residence hall or cause difficulties for students who reside there.
  • The Owner is financially responsible for the actions of the Service 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 any expenses incurred for cleaning above and beyond a standard cleaning or for repairs to University premises that are assessed after the student and Service Animal vacate the residence. The University shall have the right to bill the student account of the Owner for unmet obligations.
  • The Owner's residence may be inspected for pests once a semester or as needed. The Department of Residence Life & Housing Services 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.
  • Service Animals may not be left overnight in University housing to be cared for by another student.
  • Service Animals must be taken with the student if they leave campus for a prolonged period.
  • The Department of Residence Life & Housing Services may relocate the Owner and Service 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 a Service Animal does not constitute an exception to any other policy.
  • Any violation of the above rules may result in immediate removal of the Service 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 wellbeing requirements described in this policy.

Members of the University community are required to abide by the following practices:

  • They are to allow a Service Animal to accompany its Owner at all times and in all places on campus, except where animals are specifically prohibited.
  • They are not to touch or pet a Service Animal unless invited to do so.
  • They are not to feed a Service Animal.
  • They are not to deliberately startle a Service 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 Service 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 Service Animals or their Owners should be directed to 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.

Students who reside on-campus and have a Service Animal that needs to reside with them on-campus do not need to register with the Office of Disability Services nor do they need to request housing accommodations. In advance of bringing a Service Animal to live on-campus, however, the Owner must register the Service Animal with the Department of Residence Life & Housing Services.