Suffolk University recognizes the importance of Assistance Animals to individuals with disabilities and has established the following policy regarding Assistance Animals. This policy ensures that people with disabilities, who require the use of Assistance 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 an Assistance 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 Assistance Animals.

In accordance with the Fair Housing Act, residence students with documented disabilities are permitted to have an Assistance Animal in University housing and associated facilities when that Assistance Animal has been approved by the University as an accommodation. Individuals who do not live in University housing are not permitted to bring Assistance Animals to any University facilities. 

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. 

Definition of an Assistance Animal: 

“Assistance Animals” are animals that work, provide assistance, or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability, or animals that provide emotional support which alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person's disability. Some, but not all, animals that assist persons with disabilities are professionally trained. Other Assistance 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 performs the assistance or 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 Assistance 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: Assistance Animals must be in good health as documented annually by a licensed veterinarian. Documentation can be a vaccination certificate for the Assistance Animal or a veterinarian's statement regarding the animal's health. The University has authority to direct that the Assistance Animal receive veterinary attention. Local licensing laws must be followed. 
  • Leash: If appropriate, the Assistance Animal must be on a leash, unless the leash would inhibit the Assistance Animal's ability to be of service. 
  • Other Conditions: The Office of Disability Services may place other reasonable conditions or restrictions on the Assistance Animal depending on the nature and characteristics of the Assistance Animal. 

Procedures for Residence Students to Request Approval to Keep an Assistance Animal:

A residence student requesting permission to keep an Assistance Animal in University housing and associated facilities must make a formal request to the University’s Office of Disability Services. To do so, the residence student should submit the appropriate “Housing Accommodation Form,” as well as documentation of their disability to be reviewed by the Office of Disability Services. The form is available online at This form is due to the Office of Disability Services no later than June 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 Assistance 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 Assistance 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 Assistance 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 Assistance 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 will make a reasonable effort to notify tenants in the residence building where the Assistance 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 Assistance Animal. The University is prepared to also reasonably accommodate individuals with such medical conditions that require accommodation when living in proximity to Assistance Animals. 

The Office of Disability Services and the Office of Residence Life & Housing 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 Assistance Animal through this process is not granted, will have the opportunity to appeal such decisions. Students will receive information about the 40 appeals process upon notification of the decision regarding the request for disability accommodations. Appeals will be heard by the senior associate dean of students, or designee.  

Owner’s Responsibilities for Assistance Animals in the Residence Halls: 

The Owner is responsible for assuring that the Assistance 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 Assistance 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 Assistance 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 Assistance Animal is no longer needed as an Assistance Animal or is no longer in residence. To replace an Assistance 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. 
  • When outside the residence hall, the Owner of an Assistance Animal shall carry an approved accommodation letter from the Office of Disability Services that the animal is an approved Assistance Animal. 
  • Assistance Animals may not be left overnight in University housing to be cared for by another student. 
  • Assistance 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 Assistance 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 Assistance 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 Assistance Animal: 

The following guidelines apply to all Assistance Animals and their Owners unless the nature of the documented disability of the 41 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 Assistance Animal are the responsibility of the Owner. The Owner is required to maintain control of the Assistance Animal at all times. 
  • The Owner is responsible for ensuring the cleanup of the Assistance Animal's waste. Indoor animal waste must be placed in a sturdy plastic bag before being disposed. 

Removal of Assistance Animals: 

Suffolk University may exclude/remove an Assistance Animal when the Assistance Animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others or the Assistance Animal’s presence results in a fundamental alteration of the University's program, or the Owner does not comply with Owner’s responsibilities in University housing or in University facilities and/or at University events. 


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


Owners of Assistance Animals are solely responsible for any damage to persons or University property caused by their assistance animals. 

Areas off Limits to Animals: 

The University may prohibit the use of Assistance 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 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 or the appropriate department representative. 

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 to allow an Assistance Animal to accompany its Owner at all times and in all places on campus, except where Assistance Animals are specifically prohibited. 
  • They are not to touch or pet an Assistance Animal unless invited to do so. 
  • They are not to feed an Assistance Animal. 
  • They are not to deliberately startle an Assistance 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 Assistance 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 Assistance Animals or their handlers should be directed to the Office of Disability Services.