Disability Services

Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals

It is not uncommon to see students or participants in campus programs come onto campus with an animal. Service animals can enter all places of public accommodation at Cleveland State University. Other forms of assistance animals like emotional support animals, therapy dogs, or comfort animals are not granted the same access to places of public accommodation at CSU. Below is information about Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals including information about places they are permitted to access.

Service Animals

Service animals are typically dogs and are trained to perform a function to assist a person with a disability. People are usually familiar with dogs used by people who are blind. There are many other tasks that service animals can be trained to do that is less obvious. Service animals under law are afforded access to all campus facilities. There are only two questions that handlers can be asked regarding their service animals. Is this a service animal required to assist with a disability? What work or task has the dog been trained to perform? If the handler gives satisfactory answers to these questions, they are permitted to bring the dog in as a service animal. According to regulations only dogs and miniature horses qualify as service animals. You can view Frequently Asked Questions about Service Animals to learn more.

Service Animals in Campus Buildings

Students or other campus participants are not required to register with Disability & Testing Services to attend classes, campus events or use campus facilities. It is strongly recommended that students who are handlers of service animals register with Disability and Testing Services. There are other accommodations and services that people with disabilities would benefit from through our office. We find it to be helpful in advocacy efforts when students who are using service animals are registered with us.

People bringing service animals on campus are required to keep their dog under control and take care of maintenance including cleaning up after toileting and proper grooming. Handlers may also be held responsible for any damage caused by their dog. If a handler is not able to control their service animal or if it presents a threat to others (aggressive behavior) they will be asked to leave the event or campus facilities.

If there are safety concerns related to the presence of a service animal in campus activities or lab spaces please bring it to the attention of Disability & Testing Services or the Office of Institutional Equity to address your concerns. A service animal cannot be denied for a participant unless it presents a safety hazard, creates a fundamental alteration to a program, is not under control, or is acting in an aggressive manner toward others. Any safety hazard must be actual and not perceived.

Emotional Support Animals and Assistance Animals

Residents in the dorms may qualify to have emotional support animals (ESA)living in their rooms with them. An ESA does not have special training to perform tasks that assist people with disabilities. They can be a broad range of common household animals which are permitted in living environments as part of a treatment plan to provide companionship, relieve loneliness, and sometimes help with depression, anxiety, and certain phobias. Based on HUD guidance common household animals are domesticated animals like dogs, cats, small birds, rabbits, hamsters, gerbils, other rodents, fish, turtles, or other small domesticated animals that is traditionally kept in the home for pleasure rather than for commercial purposes.

ESA’s are not afforded the same right to access places of public accommodations as service animals under law. Students or residents living in dorms also need to provide documentation and register with Disability & Testing Services before bringing their ESA onto campus. They are also only permitted to have the ESA in their dorm rooms or be able to walk them outside around campus. Students who take their approved ESA’s into campus buildings, aside from their dormitory, may be referred to Judicial Affairs for a Student Conduct Violation.

Assistance Animals in the Dorms

ESA’s are referred to in housing documents as assistance animals. Students must be approved by Disability & Testing Services before bringing ESA's into residence halls. Students need to abide by the following guidelines. outlined in the Assistance Animals Documentation Packet.


Owners granted the accommodation of an assistance animal in their residence hall unit shall be subject to the following rules, in addition to any other university rules and regulations not specifically related to assistance animals.

Keep the Animal in Residence Hall Unit

An assistance animal must be contained within the owner’s privately assigned individual living accommodations except to the extent the individual is taking the animal out for natural relief. When an assistance animal is outside the private individual living accommodations, it must be in an animal carrier or controlled by a leash or harness. Assistance animals (who do not qualify as service animals) are not allowed in any University facilities other than the University housing to which the resident is assigned.

Keep the Animal under Control

The Assistance Animal must be properly housed and restrained or otherwise under the dominion and control of the owner at all times. No owner shall permit the animal to go loose or run at large. If an animal is found running at large, the animal is subject to capture and confinement and immediate removal from University housing.

Abide by Laws and Policies

The owner must abide by current city, county, and state ordinances, laws, and/or regulations pertaining to licensing, vaccination, and other requirements for animals. It is the owner’s responsibility to know and understand these ordinances, laws, and regulations. The University has the right to require documentation of compliance with such ordinances, laws, and/or regulations, which may include a vaccination certificate. The University reserves the right to request documentation showing that the animal has been licensed. Additionally, the owner must abide by all equally applicable residential policies, such as assuring that the animal does not unduly interfere with the routine activities of the residence or cause difficulties for individuals who reside there.

Ensure the Animal is Well Cared-For

The owner is required to ensure the animal is well cared for at all times. Any evidence of mistreatment, abuse, neglect, or leaving the assistance animal unattended for unreasonably long periods of time may result in immediate removal of the Assistance Animal and/or discipline for the responsible individual pursuant to the University Student Code of Conduct and/or any housing-related sanctions within the Residence Hall Handbook. The University will not base this determination on speculation or fear about the harm or damages an animal may cause. University personnel shall not be required to provide care or food for any Assistance Animal including, but not limited to, removing the animal during emergency evacuation for events such as a fire alarm. Emergency personnel will determine whether to remove the animal and may not be held responsible for the care, damage to, or loss of the animal. Additionally, assistance animals may not be left overnight in University housing to be cared for by any individual other than the owner. If the owner is to be absent from his/her residence hall overnight or longer, the animal must accompany the owner. The owner is responsible for ensuring that the assistance animal is contained, as appropriate, when the owner is not present during the day while attending classes or other activities.

Be Responsible for Property Damage

The owner is required to clean up after and properly dispose of the animal’s waste in a safe and sanitary manner and, when provided, must use animal relief areas designated by the University. An individual with a disability may be charged for any damage caused by his or her Assistance Animal beyond reasonable wear and tear to the same extent that it charges other individuals for damages beyond reasonable wear and tear. The owner's living accommodations may also be inspected for fleas, ticks or other pests if necessary, as part of the University’s standard or routine inspections. If fleas, ticks or other pests are detected through inspection, the owner will be billed for the expense of any pest treatment above and beyond standard pest management in the residence halls. The University shall have the right to bill the owner’s account for unmet obligations under this provision.

Notify ODS or Residence Life if Assistance Animal is No Longer Needed

The animal is allowed in University housing only as long as it is necessary because of the owner’s disability. The owner must notify ODS in writing if the assistance animal is no longer needed or is no longer in residence. To replace an Assistance Animal, the new animal must be necessary because of the Owner’s disability and the Owner must follow the procedures in these guidelines when requesting a different animal.


The University may require the Owner to remove the assistance animal from University housing if: • The animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others or causes substantial property damage to the property of others, including University property; • The animal’s presence results in a fundamental alteration of a University program; • The owner does not comply with the Owner’s Responsibilities set forth above; or • The animal or its presence creates an unmanageable disturbance or interference with the University community. ODS will base such individualized determinations upon the consideration of the behavior of the particular animal and resident on a case-by-case basis, and in consultation with Residence Life, the resident, and other parties as appropriate. The University will not base this determination on speculation or fear about the harm or damages an animal may cause. Any removal of the animal or denial of approval of the request to keep the animal may be appealed pursuant to the procedure available for complaining of violations of the University’s Policy Against Discrimination, Harassment, Sexual Violence and Retaliation. The Owner will be afforded all rights of due process and appeal as outlined in that process. Should the Assistance Animal be removed from the premises for any reason, the Owner is expected to fulfill his/her housing obligations for the remainder of the housing contract.

Additional Information