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Emotional Support Animals (ESA)

Definition of ESA While Emotional Support Animals or Comfort Animals are often used as part of a medical treatment plan as therapy animals, they are not considered service animals under the ADA. These support animals provide companionship, relieve loneliness, and sometimes help with depression, anxiety, and certain phobias, but do not have special training to perform tasks that assist people with disabilities. Even though some states have laws defining therapy animals, these animals are not limited to working with people with disabilities and therefore are not covered by federal laws protecting the use of service animals. 

Requirements
Under the FHA [Fair Housing Act], a person may keep an assistance animal in their dwelling as a reasonable accommodation if: 

  1. the person has a disability;
  2. the accommodation is necessary to afford a person with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy the dwelling; and
  3. there is a nexus between the disability and the function the animal provides (evidence that the animal relieves the diagnostic symptoms).

Process

If you are interested in obtaining support from the College Counseling Center for an Emotional Support Animal, please see the Comfort Animal Form to learn what information is required in the application.

  • Student must be a current and ongoing client at the Counseling Center through the semester they are applying. Without current and historical knowledge of a student, the counselor is unable to accurately fill out the application and it is likely to be denied.
  • In collaboration with the student, the counselor must agree that all conditions of the Fair Housing Act have been met. In other words, the presence of the animal is necessary to ameliorate one or more symptoms of the disorder.
  • If you and your counselor disagree about these conditions, they will help you determine other therapeutic/medical professionals who may be in a better position to support you.
  • Residence Life accepts applications ongoing through each semester.