Assistance Animals

Types of assistance animals; what is allowed on campus; and how to go about requesting to have an assistance animal on campus with you

Types of Assistance Animals

Service Animals

A dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability

Emotional Support Animals

An animal that provides a therapeutic benefit to its owner through companionship to individuals with psychological disorders and other mental impairments

Therapy Animal

A therapy animal is a pet trained to interact with many people other than its handler to make those people feel better

Service animal vs. emotional support animal

The primary differences between service animals and emotional support animals (ESA) are as follows:

  • A service animal has received individualized, specialized training to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability. In contrast, an emotional support animal does not need specialized training and instead provides passive comfort, support, and companionship by its mere presence.
  • A service animal is related to access and can accompany its handler into public establishments. In contrast, an emotional support animal is considered an accommodation and is not automatically granted access to areas not open to the general public unless approved by Student Disability Resources through the reasonable accommodation process.
  • Documentation from a qualified professional is not required in allowing a service animal on campus. In contrast, documentation from a qualified professional is necessary in determining the need for an emotional support animal as part of the reasonable accommodation process administered by Student Disability Resources.

Assistance animal removal from campus

Service animals and emotional support animals may be subject to removal from campus if the owners do not comply with all applicable University and Pennsylvania dog laws. These include, but are not limited to:

  • proper vaccinations
  • use of leashes
  • care and control of animal
  • proper cleanup and waste removal

Service animal responsibilities are detailed in Penn State’s Policy AD66, and owner responsibilities for service animals or emotional support animals will be reviewed with students upon approval to have the animal on campus.