Emotional support animals

University Policy

Wayne State University ("WSU" or the "University") is committed to providing reasonable accommodations to persons with disabilities, fulfilling its obligations under state and federal law. This policy governs the use of service/assistance animals as reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities in campus housing.

The health and safety of WSU students, faculty, staff, and service/assistance animals are paramount. Therefore, each request for such an accommodation will be carefully considered and decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis. Requests for an accommodation regarding an assistance animal must be supported by sufficient medical documentation for proper consideration of the request.

WSU will not allow in campus housing any animal that poses a threat to the health or safety of others, would cause substantial physical damage to the property of others, would pose an undue financial and administrative burden, or would fundamentally alter the nature of housing operations.

Students living with service/assistance animals are expected to adhere to the same housing policies as all other residents. In all cases, the owner of the service/assistance animal is responsible for its behavior. Costs associated with cleaning, repairs, and/or pest control required due to the presence of the service/assistance animal in any residence hall and/or apartment will be charged to the animal's owner.


Service Animals:

  • A service animal, as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA), is a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability.  Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition, however there is a special provision of the ADAAA that permits miniature horses in some cases.  The work or task a service animal has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person's disability.  The provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition.
  • Students with service animals are permitted to bring them to places of public accommodation (e.g., other campus housing locations, dining facilities, academic buildings, athletic facilities, classrooms, labs, libraries, etc.).  The University may, however, prohibit the use of service animals in certain locations due to health or safety restrictions, where service animals may be in danger, or where their use may compromise the integrity of research. Exceptions to restricted areas may be granted on a case-by-case basis by contacting Student Disability Services.
  • University employees should not question an individual about an accompanying service animal if the individual's disability is readily apparent and the function of the accompanying animal is clear.
  • In the unusual circumstance when an inquiry must be made to determine whether an animal is a service animal, a University employee may ask two questions: (1) Whether the animal is required because of a disability, and (2) What work or task the animal is trained to perform.  University employees shall not ask any questions about the individual's disability.
  • Although a Service animal may sometimes be identified by an identification card, harness, cape, or backpack, such identifiers are not required and should not be requested or demanded for any service animal on campus.
  • Service animals are required to be at least twelve (12) months of age unless an exception to this requirement has been approved by Student Disability Services. Service dogs in training must also be twelve (12) months of age or older. A service dog in training must be registered with Student Disability Services and approval through the reasonable accommodation process must be obtained for the service dog in training to live on campus.

Assistance Animals:

  • An assistance animal, as defined under the Fair Housing Act, is an animal that provides physical and/or emotional support to individuals with disabilities. An assistance animal is defined as an  animal that may work, provide assistance, or perform physical tasks for an individual with a disability and/or provide necessary emotional support to an individual with a mental or psychiatric disability, but which is not considered a service animal under the ADAAA. 
  • Bringing an assistance animal into campus housing is a two-step approval process, a student must first obtain approval from Student Disability Services and then obtain approval from the Office of Housing & Residential Life.
  • An assistance animal must be contained within the resident's assigned individual living quarters except for when the resident is taking the animal out for natural relief. When the assistance animal is outside of the resident's private living quarters, the animal must be in an animal carrier or controlled by a leash or harness. Approval to have an assistance animal in housing does not permit you to bring that animal to places of public accommodation (e.g., other campus housing locations, dining facilities, academic buildings, athletic facilities, classrooms, labs, libraries, etc.).
  • Assistance animals are required to be at least twelve (12) months of age unless an exception to this requirement has been approved by Student Disability Services.


Please note that it is strongly recommended that this entire process be completed at least 30 days prior to a student's move in date.    Requests are processed on a first come first served basis and are subject to the availability of housing.


  1. The student must have completed a housing license agreement to live on campus and agree to the terms.  Housing license agreement terms can be found online at:


  1. A student seeking to have a service/assistance animal in University Housing must identify and register with Student Disability Services Office (SDS) as soon as possible, preferably at least thirty (30) days prior to move-in. Such a student must provide documentation of a disability to SDS if such documentation is requested.
  2. If a student is requesting permission to have a service/assistance animal in campus housing, the student must submit a Service/Assistance Animal Request Form completed by the individual's health care provider OR a signed letter, on professional letterhead, from the individual's health care provider to SDS stating:
    • The nature of the disability condition or impairment
    • Description of the student's current functional limitations
    • The provider's professional opinion regarding the identifiable relationship or nexus between the disability and the assistance provided by the animal.

**SDS reserves the right to request additional information from the student.**

  1. The student must also register online at https://wayne-accommodate.symplicity.com/public_accommodation/. Once the registration is complete, an SDS Specialist will contact the student for an in-person meeting to review the request.
  2. Each request will be reviewed on an individual basis by an SDS Specialist.  The SDS Specialist will review all required documentation and may require additional documentation. If SDS approves the service/assistance animal as an appropriate accommodation, it will issue an approval letter to the student.  Note that this approval is the first of two approvals that must be obtained to have a service/assistance animal in housing; it does not guarantee that the Office of Housing & Residential Life will approve the presence of the service/assistance animal in housing or that housing will be available.
  3. The approval letter will also be sent along to the Office of Housing & Residential Life.
  4. After receiving the approval letter from SDS, a staff member in the Office of Housing & Residential Life will contact the student to provide the student with the Service/Assistance Animal Policy documents for housing and information about scheduling an appointment with the Office Of housing & Residential Life. 
  5. The student must schedule an appointment with the Office of Housing & Residential Life to complete the request.
  6. At least two (2) business days prior to this scheduled meeting, the student must complete and submit the Service/Assistance Animal Policy documents to housing@wayne.edu .
  7. During the meeting with the Office of Housing & Residential Life staff member, the Service/Assistance Animal Policy will be reviewed and discussed.
  8. The Office of Housing & Residential Life will consider each request for a student to have a service/assistance animal in housing on an individual basis.  If approved by the Office of Housing & Residential Life, the approved request and related documentation will be sent to the student and the Community Director of the building in which the student is assigned housing.
  9. Approval of the service/assistance animal in housing is conditioned on the student's compliance with the terms of the Service/Assistance Animal Policy and acknowledgement/approval of roommates/suitemates.
  10. Any approved request to have a service/assistance animal in housing is only valid for one (1) year and must be sought annually by completing the process in place at that time.
  11. All accommodation requests for campus housing will be reviewed on a first come first served basis. Submitting a late request could jeopardize a student's ability to have his/her accommodation granted on the availability of housing.



  • Vaccinations: The animal must be immunized in accord with applicable law. For example, dogs must have a current vaccination against rabies, as well as any other vaccinations required for general health, and cats should have the normal vaccinations required for a healthy animal.
  • Health: The animal must have an annual clean bill of health from a licensed veterinarian. Documentation can be a vaccination certificate for the animal or a veterinarian's statement regarding the animal's health. The university has the authority to direct that the animal receive veterinary attention.
  • Licensing: The owner must comply with state and local laws regarding licensing.  For example, Michigan law requires that every dog be licensed but provides that service dogs are exempt from the license fee.
  • Behavior: The animal must be properly trained, housed, restrained, and under the owner's control at all times. If an animal is found loose or unattended outside the owner's private living quarters, the animal is subject to immediate removal from University housing.
  • Damages: The owner is financially responsible for any property damage caused by the animal beyond reasonable wear and tear.
  • Overnight Care: The owner may not leave the animal overnight in University housing to be cared for by any individual other than the owner. If the owner is absent from University housing overnight, the animal must accompany the owner or other arrangements to board the animal outside of University housing must be made. Local animal control shelters will be notified and asked to remove any animal that is left overnight in housing without its owner present.


  • A student who uses a service or assistance animal should meet with the Community Director before the start of each semester to discuss procedures for identifying proper waste disposal areas on campus. The student is ultimately responsible for the cleanliness, grooming and health of the animal and must take responsibility for the proper disposal of all waste. In the event that the student is not physically able to clean up after the animal, it is the responsibility of the student to hire someone capable of cleaning up after the animal.


  • Some people may have allergic reactions to animals that are substantial enough to qualify as disabilities. Housing personnel will make a reasonable effort to notify students in the residence hall/apartment building where the approved animal will be located. In such situations, SDS, in cooperation with the Office of Housing and Residential Life, will consider the needs of all affected persons requiring accommodations in order to resolve the problem as efficiently and timely as possible.
  • Students with medical condition(s) that are affected by animals (e.g., respiratory diseases, asthma, severe allergies) should contact Student Disability Services if they have concerns about exposure to a service/assistance animal. Staff members with such concerns should contact the Office of Equal Opportunity for information about possible accommodations.


Service/assistance animals can be ordered removed immediately from campus housing for the following reasons:

  • Out of Control Animal: A student may be directed to remove an animal that is out of control. If the improper animal behavior happens repeatedly, the student may be prohibited from bringing the animal into any university facility, including campus housing, until the student can demonstrate that s/he has taken significant steps to mitigate the behavior.
  • Non-housebroken animal: A student may be directed to remove an animal that is not housebroken.
  • Direct Threat: A student may be directed to remove an animal that the University determines to be a substantial and direct threat to the health and safety of individuals. This may occur as a result of a very ill animal, a substantial lack of cleanliness of the animal, or the presence of an animal in a sensitive area like a medical facility or other laboratory.
  • Disruptive: A service/assistance animal may be removed from University grounds or facilities if it is disruptive (e.g. barking, wandering, displaying aggressive behavior) and, in the case of service animals, the behavior is outside the duties of the service animal

Where a service/assistance animal is properly removed pursuant to this policy, SDS will work with the student to address any resultant disability-related need for accommodation.


Any student wishing to challenge the decision reached in the accommodation process such as disability determination, appropriateness of an accommodation, quality of service, or an animal restriction should first contact SDS. If the matter is not resolved, a request for dispute resolution should be submitted to SDS. Students may also file complaints with the Office of the Ombudsperson (313-577-3487, ombudsoffice@wayne.edu), or the Office of Equal Opportunity (313-577-2280.)