4400 Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals

Responsible Official: 
Director, Student Accessibility Services
Director, Office of Institutional Equity and Accessibility
Responsible Office: 
Student Accessibility Services
Office of Institutional Equity and Accessibility
Effective Date: 
September 9, 2014
Revision Date: 
December 18, 2019

Policy Sections

4400.1 Service Animals

4400.2 Emotional Support Animals

4400.3 Pets

4400.4 Restricted Areas

4400.5 Conflicting Health Conditions

4400.6 Owner’s Responsibilities

4400.7 Responsibilities of the Yale Community

4400.8 Removal of Animals from Campus


This policy covers all Yale University buildings and facilities that students and employees are generally permitted to enter.

Policy Statement

In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and other applicable state and federal law, Yale University generally allows students with disabilities to bring Service Animals to campus to perform work or tasks related to a disability.  Yale employees who require the assistance of a Service Animal to perform their work for the University due to a disability are also generally permitted to bring Service Animals to campus.

In some cases, Emotional Support Animals that do not qualify as Service Animals under the ADA may be permitted in University housing if shown to be necessary to afford a student with a documented disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy University housing. 

Student Accessibility Services (“SAS”) facilitates individual accommodations for all students with disabilities throughout the entire University.  Students planning to bring a Service Animal to campus or seeking approval to bring an Emotional Support Animal to campus should contact SAS as early as possible to begin the approval and registration process.  

The Office of Institutional Equity and Accessibility (“OIEA”) facilitates individual accommodations for current or prospective Yale employees with disabilities.  Employees who require a Service Animal to perform their work should contact OIEA to begin the accommodation process.

Reason for the Policy

Yale University is committed to ensuring that community members with disabilities are able to participate fully and equally in the University’s programs and activities.  The University also recognizes the importance of Service Animals to individuals with disabilities and has established this Policy to assist Yale students and employees with disabilities.  This Policy serves to ensure that individuals with disabilities who require the use of Service Animals as a reasonable accommodation in order to fully participate in University life will receive the benefit of the assistance provided by such animals.  Specific requirements and guidelines concerning Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals on campus are set forth below.  The University reserves the right to amend this policy at any time, as circumstances may require.



A documented physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, or a record of such an impairment.

Emotional Support Animal

An animal that provides emotional support, comfort or therapy that alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person’s disability.  Such animals may also provide assistance, or perform tasks for the benefits of a person with a disability.  An Emotional Support Animal need not be individually trained or certified to perform any disability-related task.  While dogs are the most common Emotional Support Animals, other animals may also serve as Emotional Support Animals.


A student or employee with a disability who uses a Service Animal or Emotional Support Animal to perform disability-related work or tasks.


A domestic animal kept for personal enjoyment or companionship and not trained to perform any disability-related function.

Reasonable Accommodation

A modification or adjustment to a class, program or job requirements that would allow a qualified individual with a disability to participate in the class or program or to perform the essential functions of a position, without fundamentally altering academic, conduct or performance requirements.

Service Animal

Any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability.  The work or tasks performed by the animal must be directly related to the person’s disability.  Examples include, but are not limited to, guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting/protecting an individual who is having a seizure and reminding an individual to take medication.  The provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort or companionship does not constitute work or tasks under this definition.  While dogs are the most common Service Animals, under certain circumstances, a miniature horse may qualify as a Service Animal.  Other animals do not qualify as Service Animals.

Policy Sections

4400.1 Service Animals

4400.1.1 Students

Students who have a disability that requires the assistance of a Service Animal are permitted to bring such animals to campus. Service Animals are permitted in all areas of campus where students are generally permitted to go.

A Service Animal shall be kept on a harness, leash or other tether at all times, unless the Owner is unable to use such a tether due to a disability or the use of a tether would interfere with the animal’s ability to safely and effectively perform its duties.  A Service Animal must wear a leash, harness, cape, or other marker that identifies it as a Service Animal, at all times, when on campus.

The Owner should contact Student Accessibility Services (“SAS”) as soon as the Owner is aware of plans to bring a Service Animal to campus.  When it is not obvious what service the animal provides, the Owner will be asked whether the Animal is required because of a disability and what task the animal is trained to perform.  The Owner need not present proof or documentation of the nature of their disability or the training or certification of the Service Animal.

4400.1.2 Employees

Employees may be permitted to bring Service Animals to work on campus as a reasonable accommodation for a documented disability.  Employees who wish to use a Service Animal as a reasonable accommodation in a University office or other areas of campus buildings not open to the general public must consult with the Office of Institutional Equity and Accessibility (“OIEA”). 

Such employees may be asked to provide reasonable documentation that the animal is needed as an accommodation, including why the animal is needed and what service it will provide for the employee, that the animal is trained to perform that function, and that the animal will not unduly disrupt the workplace.

4400.2 Emotional Support Animals

Students are permitted to keep Emotional Support Animals in on-campus housing on a case-by-case basis as a reasonable accommodation for a documented disability after prior approval. 

In order to bring an Emotional Support Animal to campus, the Owner must contact SAS as early as possible to allow time to gather and review all necessary documentation.  The Owner will be asked to provide medical documentation by a reliable third party of the need for the Emotional Support Animal and submit an Emotional Support Animal Request for Information form, available from SAS.  The Owner should contact SAS at least 60 days prior to the start of the semester to begin the process of requesting an Emotional Support Animal as a reasonable accommodation.  If a request is made less than 60 days prior to the start of a term, the University cannot guarantee that accommodations can be made for that term.  Generally, requests for an Emotional Support Animal in a given semester cannot be made once that semester has commenced. 

An Emotional Support Animal may not travel throughout campus property with its Owner and must be contained within the Owner’s designated residence area at all times.  When being transported outside the residence area, the Emotional Support Animal must be placed in an animal carrier or controlled by leash or harness.  Emotional Support Animals are not permitted in other areas of campus without prior approval, which may be granted on a limited case-by-case basis. 

No Emotional Support Animal may be kept in campus property prior to receiving SAS approval as a reasonable accommodation under this policy.  Keeping an unapproved animal on campus is a violation of University policy and may result in discipline.  The Emotional Support Animal is allowed in University housing only as long as it is necessary because of the Owner’s disability.  Generally, only one Emotional Support Animal will be approved per student.  The Owner must notify SAS in writing if the Emotional Support Animal is no longer needed or is no longer in residence.  If the Owner wishes to replace an approved Emotional Support Animal with a new animal, the Owner must file a new request with SAS and obtain approval prior to bringing the new animal onto campus.

The Owner must identify two people who do not reside in Yale housing and who can take responsibility for the animal within 12 hours in the event the Owner is unable to provide care to the Emotional Support Animal.  The Owner must provide a written Animal Care Plan to SAS.  Yale personnel shall not be required to provide care or food for any Emotional Support Animal including, but not limited to, removing the animal during emergency evacuations.  The Owner must provide written consent for SAS to disclose information related to the request and presence of an Emotional Support Animal to relevant parties impacted by the presence of the animal, including but not limited to Residential College Head of College, the Residential College Dean and the college’s Office staff, Facilities personnel, Security, and suitemates.  Such information will be restricted to information related to the animal and not specific to the Owner’s disability.

Approved Emotional Support Animals must be housebroken and generally well-behaved, as to be suitable to communal living on campus.  Generally, dogs must be at least 10 months old and cats must be at least 6 months old, dogs and cats must be spayed or neutered, and dogs and cats must have received their first rabies vaccination before they can live in university housing.

SAS will make a case-by-case determination as to whether the presence of an Emotional Support Animal is reasonable, and will consider the following factors, among others:

  • The size of the animal, and whether it is too large for the housing space;
  • Whether the animal’s presence would force another individual from individual housing (e.g. serious allergies);
  • Whether the animal’s vaccinations are up to date;
  • Whether the animal presents health risks from zoonotic diseases or safety concerns, such as those regarding containment or aggressive behavior, that cannot be sufficiently mitigated for communal living situations such as those in Yale housing;
  • Whether the animal’s presence otherwise violates individuals’ right to peace and quiet enjoyment;
  • Whether the animal is housebroken and otherwise able to live with others in a reasonable manner; or
  • Whether the animal causes or has caused excessive damage to housing beyond reasonable wear and tear.

Yale will always consider whether appropriate means of mitigating zoonotic risks are available (such as rabies shots for dogs).  Yale Environmental Health and Safety will provide expert consulting in appropriate situations.

Employees may not bring Emotional Support Animals to work.

4400.3 Pets

Pets are not permitted in University housing and are generally not permitted in any University-controlled buildings.  While on University property, pets must be attended and restrained at all times.

4400.4 Restricted Areas

The University may prohibit the use of Service Animals in certain locations due to health and safety restrictions, such as areas in which the animal may be in danger, or where the animal’s presence may compromise the integrity of research.  Restricted areas may include, but are not limited to, food preparation areas, custodial closets, boiler rooms, research laboratories, classrooms or labs that contain research animals, areas requiring protective clothing, wood and metal shops, motor pools, areas with heavy machinery, and other areas as required by state or local law.

Limited exceptions to these restrictions may be made on a case-by-case basis in consultation with SAS and the person/department responsible for the restricted area. 

A student who requires the use of a Service Animal to participate in a clinical training program should contact SAS and the head of his or her department.  In no case may a Service Animal accompany a student into a patient’s hospital room or examination room if it is determined that the animal’s presence will be harmful to the patient’s health.

Except for the Owner’s designated living area, all areas are restricted to Emotional Support Animals without prior approval from SAS.

4400.5 Conflicting Health Conditions

Housing personnel will notify any roommates and suitemates of the Owner, and will make a reasonable effort to notify the residents of neighboring units to where the Service Animal or Emotional Support Animal will be located. 

Students with a medical condition that may be affected by animals (ex. asthma, severe allergies) should contact SAS with any health or safety concerns about exposure to a Service Animal or Emotional Support Animal.  SAS may request medical documentation of the student’s condition to assist in determining whether the condition is disabling and whether there is a need for an accommodation.  SAS will make every effort to resolve any conflict in a timely manner, taking into consideration the conflicting needs and/or accommodations of each person involved. 

The University will accommodate individuals with medical conditions that require accommodation in order to live, work, or attend class in proximity to Service Animals or Emotional Support Animals, and alternative housing or work space arrangements will be made where appropriate.

4400.6 Owner’s Responsibilities

The Owner of a Service Animal or Emotional Support Animal living in University housing and/or frequenting campus is responsible for the following:

  • The Owner must be in full control of the animal at all times.
  • The Owner must provide adequate care and supervision of the animal at the Owner’s expense.  This includes training, cleanup and disposal of waste and proper hygiene.  This also includes providing for the health of the animal, such as vaccination, annual check-ups, and compliance with any licensing requirements.  The animal may not be bathed or its cage, crate, or bedding be cleaned within student housing facilities.
  • The Owner must assure that the animal does not cause undue interference or disruption to other residents.
  • The Owner will be liable for any harm caused by the animal, including bodily injury or property damage.  This responsibility includes, but is not limited to, any expenses incurred for pest control, maintenance or cleaning above and beyond standard costs.  Any such costs will be due at the time of repair and/or move-out, and the University shall have the right to bill the student account for any unmet obligations.
  • The Owner must notify SAS or OIEA, as applicable, in writing if the animal is no longer needed or is no longer residing on University property.  If the animal will be replaced, the Owner must file a new request with SAS/OIEA.
  • The Owner must permit scheduled inspection of the Owner’s room for fleas, ticks or other pests as needed, and will be billed for any necessary pest treatment above and beyond standard pest management.
  • The Owner must take the animal when leaving campus for a prolonged period of time and may not leave the animal in the care of any other resident overnight.
  • The Owner must abide by all other applicable residential policies.

4400.7 Responsibilities of the Yale Community

All members of the Yale Community, including faculty, staff and students, are expected to abide by the following:

  • Service Animals must be allowed to accompany their Owners at all time and in all places on campus, except where specifically prohibited (See Section 4400.4).
  • Community Members should not touch, pet, feed or otherwise distract a Service Animal without the Owner’s permission, and they should avoid any action that might startle the Service Animal.
  • Community Members should not attempt to separate an Owner from the Owner’s Service Animal.
  • The nature of a person’s disability is private, and no Community Member should inquire as to the details of an Owner’s disability or their reason for using a Service Animal or Emotional Support Animal. 
  • Community Members should contact SAS if they have any questions or concerns relating to any Service Animal or Emotional Support Animal.

4400.8 Removal of Animals from Campus

A Faculty member or other University official may exclude a Service Animal from a classroom or other University facility if the owner is unable to control it or the animal is not housebroken.

The University reserves the right to remove or exclude a Service Animal or Emotional Support Animal from campus if:

  • The animal poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others;
  • The animal’s presence results in a fundamental alternation of the University’s programs;
  • The animal is in poor health or the University has a reasonable suspicion of mistreatment;
  • The Owner fails to comply with the responsibilities under this Policy; or
  • The animal creates an unmanageable disturbance or interference with the Yale community.

If an Owner is asked to remove an Emotional Support Animal from campus, the animal must be removed within 48 hours.  If the Owner fails to remove the animal from campus within 48 hours, the University reserves the right to remove the animal and turn it over to the local animal shelter.

Should an Emotional Support Animal or Service Animal be removed from campus and the premises for any reason, the Owner is expected to fulfill the Owner’s housing obligation for the remainder of the housing contract.

Special Situations & Exceptions

Students should contact Student Accessibility Services for any exception to this policy.   Employees should contact the Office of Institutional Equity and Accessibility.

Roles & Responsibilities

Office of Institutional Equity and Accessibility (“OIEA”)

  • Responsible for facilitating individual accommodations for current or prospective Yale employees with disabilities.


  • Responsible for contacting SAS/OIEA and following all policies and procedures with respect to his or her Service Animal.

Student Accessibility Services (“SAS”)

  • Responsible for developing and implementing all necessary procedures, facilitating the use of Service Animals by students with disabilities, and assisting the University community with any questions or concerns with regarding to Service Animals or Emotional Support Animals.