Emotional Support Animals

Emotional Support Animals are animals selected or prescribed to an individual with a disability by a healthcare or mental health professional to play a significant part in a person’s treatment process, e.g., in alleviating one or more symptoms of that individual’s disability. An emotional support animal does not assist a person with a disability with activities of daily living, and does not accompany a person with a disability at all times.

An Emotional Support Animal is not a Service Animal or a Therapy Animal, and an Emotional Support Animal need not have specialized training. An Emotional Support Animal may not reside in University housing without the approval of both the Office of Academic Accessibility and the Office of Residential Education. No request for an Emotional Support Animal will be considered by a student who is found to be currently in violation of UNC Asheville’s “No Pets” policy at the time of the request. 

A student requesting permission to have an emotional support animal in on-campus housing should review the Assistance Animal Policy to ensure that the student is aware of guidelines for animals residing in campus housing. After reviewing the Assistance Animal Policy, the student should inform the Office of Academic Accessibility of their request to be considered for an Emotional Support Animal by completing a general online application.

Deadlines: The Office of Academic Accessibility requests that documentation be submitted by June 1 (Summer session, Fall semester) and December 1 (Spring semester) in order to gather, review, and verify the necessary documentation. These deadlines also allow the Residential Operations and Housing staff time to implement residential accommodations.

Documentation: The Emotional Support Animal Documentation Form should be completed by a qualified professional with direct experience working with the student and has been involved in ongoing treatment sufficient to determine that an ESA will substantially relieve one or more symptoms of the student’s condition while living in the residence halls, which are otherwise pet-free.

Please be aware that documentation procured by participating in a conversation with an internet-based provider with whom the student does not otherwise have a clinical relationship may not be sufficient documentation. According to guidance issued by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (2020), “such documentation from the internet is not, by itself, sufficient to reliably establish that an individual has a non-observable disability or disability-related need for an assistance animal.”  (p. 10).

If the need for the accommodation arises when an individual already resides in University housing, the student should contact the OAA and complete the Online Student Application as soon as practicably possible. OAA cannot guarantee that it will be able to meet the accommodation needs during the semester or term in which the request is received.

The OAA will review documentation and meet with the student requesting that an Emotional Support Animal be housed in university housing. If approved in writing by OAA, the student will schedule a meeting with a Residential Education staff to complete the process. The Assistance Animal Policy will be reviewed with the student at this time. This accommodation is typically approved for one academic year; additional documentation may be necessary in order to request the ESA for additional years. The Assistance Animal Policy must be reviewed and signed annually.

The effect on others in the residential housing unit must be considered, including the potential effect on persons with allergies to animal hair or dander, as well as the willingness of roommates to share their housing with an animal. The Office of Academic Accessibility requests that documentation be submitted by June 1 (Summer, Fall) and December 1 (Spring) in order to gather, review, and verify the necessary documentation. These deadlines also allow the Residential Operations and Housing staff time to implement residential accommodations.