Animals on Campus

Cornell University complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and New York State (NYS) Human Rights Law in allowing and welcoming service animals on campus.  

Students with service animals may, but are not required to, register with Student Disability Services. Students who are seeking to bring an emotional support animal to campus due to a disability would be required to register with Student Disability Services. See below for more information about the definition of these types of animals.

All animals on campus are governed by Cornell University Policy 2.8.

What is a service animal?

The ADA, as amended in 2008, defines a 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. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the handler's disability. Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to, assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, providing non-violent protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, assisting an individual during a seizure, retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities, and helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors. The crime deterrent effects of an animal's presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition.” 
From: Department of Justice Revised ADA Regulations Implementing Title II and Title III, Federal Register, September 15, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 178). 

What is an emotional support animal?

An emotional support animal (ESA) is an animal that alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person’s disability. ESAs are distinct from service animals. As stated in the ADA definition of a service animal above, the provision of emotional support is not considered work or tasks; therefore emotional support animals are not afforded access and coverage under the ADA. The Fair Housing Act (FHA), which covers residential communities on campus, does permit qualified individuals with disabilities to request a reasonable modification in housing “no pets” policies to allow them to have their ESA live with them. Therefore, students who wish to have an ESA live with them on campus, need to be approved for this accommodation by SDS.