Disability-Related Animals on Campus

San Jose State University recognizes that service animals help people with disabilities participate in everyday life, and that other animals can provide support or comfort. Service animals are generally allowed to accompany their handlers in any building or public space where their handlers are permitted. Emotional support animals may be allowed in specified areas of the University with advanced approval. 

     Service Animal1      Emotional Support Animal
Purpose Trained to perform a specific task (e.g., navigation, sight) that mitigates impact of student’s disability.  Provide comfort/emotional support (e.g., student’s relationship with animal) to mitigate impact of student’s disability. 
Type of Animal Dogs (or rarely, miniature horses). Animals deemed safe for the environment/community (i.e.  Animals commonly kept in households).
Requirement of Approval  No approval, request, documentation, or proof of training is required. If a service animal’s role is not apparent, you can ask the handler (1) “Is that a service animal for a disability?” and (2) “What service/task does it perform for you?”  Request must be made for a reasonable accommodation. This request requires the student to provide the AEC supporting documentation from a treating professional. 
Campus Access Generally, anywhere students are permitted on campus (exceptions may exist for health/safety). Specific campus areas, after University approval. This is typically the students housing facility, but does not preclude requests for other areas on campus.
Animal Behavior The animal is the responsibility of the student. Animals must be housebroken and be under their student’s control (in proximity to the student and responsive to commands, in harness, leashed or in a carrier). An animal’s behavior is considered the student’s behavior; the animal will be held to the same basic standard of conduct as the student. If they are disruptive to university business or community behavioral expectations, student may be asked to correct the animal’s behavior or remove it from the environment. 

1 Service Animals are generally allowed to accompany students anywhere the student is permitted on campus (exceptions may exist in sterile environments and areas requiring protective equipment or clothing for access). If a Service Animal’s role is not apparent by observation students may be asked “Is that a service animal for a disability?” and “What service/task does it perform for you?” 

Students are not required to register with AEC to have a service animal on campus. However, registration will allow AEC to provide notification to campus community as applicable. 

2 Emotional Support Animals (ESA) are a reasonable accommodation for specific areas on campus; most typically University Housing. 

Students must register with AEC and provide appropriate documentation. Please view the AEC’s Emotional Support Verification Form [pdf]

If the ESA is not a commonly kept household animal (dog, cat, small bird, rabbit, hamster, gerbil, other rodent, fish, turtle, or other small, domesticated animal that is traditionally kept in the home for pleasure rather than for commercial purposes), students must also have their treating professional provide the following additional information: 

Note: reptiles (other than turtles), barnyard animals, monkeys, kangaroos, and other non-domesticated animals are not considered common household animals.

  • The date of the last consultation with the student, 
  • Any unique circumstances justifying the student’s need for the particular animal (if already owned or identified by the individual) or particular type of animal(s), and 
  • Whether the treating professional has reliable information about this specific animal or whether they specifically recommended this type of animal. 

Denial of a request for an ESA may be based on insufficient documentation of disability or of the need for an emotional support animal as an accommodation in the context requested; issues related to zoonosis; maintaining a sterile field; or demonstrated behavioral concerns. 

Documentation from the Internet

Some websites sell certificates, registrations, and licensing documents for emotional support animals to anyone who answers certain questions or participates in a short interview and pays a fee. Form letters that do not provide differentiating information about the student’s personal disability experience, or letters that are generated as a result of a single, remote evaluation solely for the purpose of recommending an ESA are not considered adequate documentation.