Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals

Service Animals

The University of Pittsburgh complies with The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and amendments in allowing the use of Service Animals on campus.  The ADA defines Service Animal as “…any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.”  The work or tasks performed by a Service Animal must be directly related to the handler´s disability.  A Service Animal is permitted to accompany the person with a disability at any time, which includes places where pets are not permitted.

Dogs that are not trained to perform tasks that mitigate the effects of a disability, including dogs that are used purely for emotional support, are not Service Animals.  Students who require the use of a Service Animal on campus are encouraged to contact Disability Resources and Services (DRS).  The Service Animal must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered, unless these devices interfere with the Service Animals’ work or the individual’s disability prevents using these devices.  In that case, the student must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal or other effective control.\

Inquiries Regarding Service Animals

Individuals cannot be asked about the nature or extent of their disability, but two inquiries can be made to determine whether an animal qualifies as a Service Animal:

  1. If the animal is required because of a disability and;
  2. What work or task the animal has been trained to perform.

The University of Pittsburgh cannot require documentation, such as proof that the animal has been certified, trained, or licensed as a Service Animal.  Also, individuals are prohibited from making inquiries about a Service Animal when it is readily apparent that an animal is trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability (e.g., the dog is observed guiding an individual who is blind or has low vision, pulling a person's wheelchair, or providing assistance with stability or balance to an individual with an observable mobility disability).

Emotional Support Animals

The University recognizes the importance of emotional support animals to individuals with a documented disability.  An emotional support animal may provide emotional support, stability and comfort. Emotional support animals are not required to be trained to perform a specific job or task and therefore they do not qualify as “Service Animals” under the Americans with Disabilities Act.   Emotional support animals are only permitted in University of Pittsburgh residence halls if the animal has been determined to be a reasonable accommodation for an individual with a disability by DRS.

To receive housing accommodations, Disability Resources and Services requires that you submit appropriate medical documentation that confirms that you are an individual with a disability.  Should the housing accommodation be deemed reasonable, you will be required to agree to the established Emotional Support Animal guidelines of the University.

Housing and Dining Accommodations Page