University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown

Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals

Service Animals

The University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown 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 Health and Counseling Services.  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).

Support Animals (SA)

The University recognizes the importance of support animals to individuals with a documented disability.  A support animal may provide emotional support, stability and comfort. 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.   Support animals are only permitted in Pitt-Johnstown residence halls (in the student’s room) if the animal has been determined to be a reasonable accommodation for an individual with a disability by Health and Counseling Services.

To receive housing accommodations, Health and Counseling Services requires that you submit a completed Housing Accommodation Verification form along with appropriate medical documentation that confirms that you are an individual with a disability.  If the housing accommodation be deemed reasonable, you will be required to agree to the established Support Animal guidelines of the University.

Support Animal Guidelines


The following definitions apply to these guidelines.

  • Emotional Support Animal: An Emotional Support Animal (ESA) is a type of Support Animal.  An ESA provides emotional support and comfort to individuals with psychiatric disabilities or other mental impairments. 
  • Handler: A handler is an individual who brings an animal onto University property.
  • .Pet: A pet is a companion animal that does not meet the definition of Service Animal or Support animal.  Pets are not permitted on University property.
  • Service Animal: Service Animals are dogs and, in some cases, miniature horses that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.  These tasks can include things like pulling a wheelchair, guiding a person who is visually impaired, or alerting a person who is having a seizure.  The tasks a service dog can perform are not limited to this list.  However, the work or task a Service Animal does must directly relate to the person's disability.  Service animals may accompany persons with disabilities into places that the public normally goes.
  • Support Animal: A Support Animal (SA) is an assistance animal, other than a Service Animal, that does work, performs tasks, provides assistance, and/or provides therapeutic emotional support for individuals with disabilities.  An Emotional Support Animal (ESA) is a type of Support Animal.  A Support Animal, including an ESA, is typically a 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.  Reptiles (other than turtles), barnyard animals, monkeys, kangaroos, and other non-domesticated animals are not considered common household animals and therefore cannot be approved as an SA.
  • University Property: This term encompasses all property owned, controlled, and operated by the University for purposes of carrying out University operations.