Assistance Animal Policy and Request

Assistance Animal Policy

Syracuse University is committed to providing fair and reasonable accommodations to all students residing in University Housing.  Our commitment to the living and learning environment is central to our mission. 

Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, a postsecondary educational institution may not exclude an otherwise qualified student with a disability from any part of its programs or services, or otherwise discriminate against an applicant or student with a disability.  Under the Fair Housing Act, persons with disabilities may request a reasonable accommodation of an assistance animal, including an emotional support animal, in housing when its use is necessary to afford a person with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling and/or the common areas of a dwelling. 

Service Animals

Under the ADA, a “service animal” means any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability.  Other species of animals, trained or untrained, are not service animals.  Service Animals provide active support and are permitted to accompany the student/handler in all public areas at the University with the possible exception of certain labs where protective clothing/gear is required. 

If the animal is a dog and it is readily apparent that the dog is trained to do the work or perform the tasks for the benefit of the individual with a disability no further information will be requested. 

If it is not readily apparent that the animal is a Service Animal, an individual may be required to provide the following information: 

Advance notice to the Center for Disability Resources (CDR) or Housing, Meal plan, and I.D. Card Services requesting to have the service animal reside in University housing. 

An individual may also be required to explain the work or task that the animal has been trained to perform, but the animal will not be required to demonstrate this task and no documentation of training will be required. 

Emotional Support Animals (ESA)

Emotional Support Animals provide passive support and are permitted only in a student’s room and the student’s assigned common area (e.g., a common room within a suite) associated with the student’s residence hall. 

A request for an Emotional Support Animal will be treated as a housing accommodation request; to make such a request, a student must go through the Center for Disability Resources (CDR) and follow the procedures for this request. 

Emotional Support Animals may not reside in housing without express written approval from University Officials. 

Requesting an Emotional Support Animal

A request for an Emotional Support Animal will be treated as an accommodation request.  In order to make such a request, a student must:

  1. Identify with the Center for Disability Resources (CDR) as a qualified student with a disability (i.e., have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities)
    1. Complete the ‘Registration Form’ and answer the questions accordingly.   To better assist in our review, students should describe in as much detail as possible how the animal will provide access to University living not otherwise possible without an ESA.  Specify the type of animal (ex. breed of dog) that you wish to bring to campus.
    2. Download the ‘Housing Healthcare Provider/Advocate Form’ document
      1.  Complete the top portion of the release form and
      2. Send the remaining portion of the Housing Healthcare Provider/Advocate Form to your appropriate healthcare provider or advocate who has recommended the ESA as an accommodation.
  2. Upon receipt of the request, an CDR Access Coordinator will be assigned, and the student will be notified via email to schedule an initial meeting with their assigned access coordinator.
    1. The CDR Access Coordinator will meet with the student for a comprehensive review.  Once the review is complete, the Access Coordinator will present the request to the Housing Accommodation Committee for final determination.
    2. The student will be notified via email of the final determination, whether additional documentation is needed to support the request, or if alternate accommodation are recommended.
  3. Students have the right to appeal the decision to the Director & ADA/503/504 Coordinator of Syracuse University.

Considerations when seeking the approval of an Emotional Support Animal:

  1. Does the person have a disability (i.e., a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities)?
  2. Does the person making the request have a disability-related need for an Emotional Support Animal (i.e., Does the animal provide emotional support that alleviates one or more of the identified symptoms of the person’s existing disability)?

Things to consider when contemplating an Emotional Support Animal as an accommodation in University housing:

  • Time obligations related to caring for specific species
  • Time away from the animal, student schedules, lifestyle, other responsibilities
  • Financial cost of food, supplies, veterinarian visits
  • Previous ownership of species or anxiety an animal may experience in a new environment
  • Caring for the animal during school breaks
  • Travel
  • Training of animal (housebroken or litter trained)
  • Ideal time to bring it to campus


For any accommodation request that is denied or in the case of a student who has been given an alternate accommodation that they perceive to be inadequate, a student may appeal that decision to the Director & ADA/503/504 Coordinator of Syracuse University at .  We will make every effort to address appeals in a timely manner.