Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) 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 Accessibility (OA) and the Office of Residential Life.
A student requesting permission to have an emotional support animal in on-campus housing should review the Assistance Animal Policy, described here, to ensure that the student is aware of guidelines for animals residing in campus housing. The student should inform the Office of Accessibility of their request to be considered for an Emotional Support Animal by completing a general online application.
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.
The documentation must address an existing and continuing diagnostic and therapeutic relationship; the provider’s confirmation that the Emotional Support Animal has been prescribed for treatment purposes and is necessary to help alleviate symptoms associated with the person’s condition and/or to help the person use and enjoy university housing services; and include a clear description of how the animal will mitigate functional limitations.
Generally, documentation from health care professionals who review emotional profiles and create template ESA letters for public housing and air carriers, or who have had no contact with the individual except for limited encounters that were specifically intended to produce an ESA letter are not considered reliable. The Office of Accessibility neither requires nor recognizes an ESA “license,” “certificate,” or “vest” as the basis for establishing the legitimacy of an ESA.
If the need for accommodation arises when an individual already resides in University housing, the student should contact the OA and complete the Online Student Application as soon as practicably possible. OA cannot guarantee that it will be able to meet the accommodation needs during the semester or term in which the request is received.
The OA will review documentation and meet with the student requesting that an Emotional Support Animal be housed in university housing. If approved in writing by OA, the student will schedule a meeting with a Residential Life 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 ESA Resident Agreement must be reviewed and signed annually.