Emotional Support Animals

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Emotional Support Animal Rights and Responsibilities

Siena Heights University recognizes the importance of “Service Animals” as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) and “Emotional Support Animals” (ESA), which are a separate category of animals that provide necessary, disability-related emotional support to an individual with a mental or psychiatric disability that alleviates one or more identified symptoms of an individual’s disability, but which are not considered Service Animals under the ADAAA.  The university is committed to allowing individuals with disabilities full-participation and equal access to the university’s programs and activities, including university housing.


This policy explains the specific requirements applicable to an individual’s use of an ESA in university housing. The university may amend this policy as circumstances require, as determined by the university’s sole discretion. This policy applies solely to Emotional Support Animals. It does not apply to “Service Animals” as defined by the ADAAA.

Although it is the university’s policy that individuals are generally prohibited from having animals of any type in university housing, the university will consider a request by a student with a disability for reasonable accommodation from this prohibition to allow an ESA. However, no ESA may be kept in university housing at any time prior to the individual receiving approval as a reasonable accommodation. The presence of only one ESA will be approved for a student, in order to fulfill the intent of the Fair Housing Act (FHA) requirements in providing support to a student with a mental health disability.

An Emotional Support Animal (ESA) is a category of animals that provide necessary emotional support to individuals with a mental or psychiatric disability and is selected to play an integral part of a person’s treatment process.

The question in determining if an ESA will be allowed in university housing is whether or not the ESA is necessary because of the individual’s disability to afford the individual an equal opportunity to use and enjoy university housing and its presence in university housing is reasonable. However, even if the individual with a disability establishes necessity for an ESA and it is allowed in university housing, an ESA is not permitted in other areas of the university (e.g. dining facilities, library, academic buildings, athletic buildings and facilities, classrooms, labs, etc.) without proper clearance and accommodation approval.


To be allowed to have an ESA reside in campus housing, the student must first contact the Office of Accessibility and complete the appropriate documentation requirements starting with the Emotional Support Animal Application Packet.

The university will consider each request for an ESA on a case-by-case basis, and, in doing so, will engage in an interactive process with the requesting student.

Once the ESA request has been approved by the Office of Accessibility, the student must request a meeting with the Accessibility Coordinator or designee to review the requirements and documents related to housing an ESA under this policy.  The ESA may not move in until this entire process is complete.

Approval for an ESA in campus housing must be reviewed and updated annually by the Accessibility Coordinator. The approval of an ESA is animal-specific and is not transferable to another animalIf a student finds that there is a need to transition to a different animal, the student will need to reapply and receive a new approval.  This will include the mental health professional detailing the need to switch and current vet information for the new ESA.

With this Emotional Support Animal Application Packet, the student is providing written consent for Office of Accessibility to disclose the presence of an ESA to those individuals who may be impacted by the presence of the ESA including, but not limited to, residence life personnel, buildings and grounds staff, and potential and/or actual roommate(s)/neighbor(s), if approved. This information shall be limited to information related to the ESA and shall not include information related to the individual’s disability, in accordance with state and federal law.

The presence of the ESA may be noticed by others visiting or residing in university housing. The student will agree that staff may acknowledge the presence of the ESA and explain that under certain circumstances Emotional Support Animals are permitted for persons with documented disabilities, without disclosing information related to the individual’s specific disability.

*NPs filling out this form must have PMH, PMHCNS-BC, or PMHNP-BC licensure/credentialing to qualify

Guidelines and requirements for ESA
An ESA’s behavior, noise, odor and/or waste shall not exceed reasonable standards for a well-behaved animal. An ESA may be removed if the ESA or its presence creates an unmanageable disturbance or interference with the university housing community. The university may use following factors (among others) in determining whether the presence of the ESA is grounds for removal, or in the making of housing assignments or adjustments for students with ESAs:

  • The ESA cannot be accommodated in the assigned small housing space;
  • The ESA is not housebroken or is unable to live with others in a reasonable manner;
  • The ESA’s vaccinations are not up-to-date, or the owner has otherwise failed to abide by any laws, ordinances and/or regulations pertaining to the licensing, vaccinations or other requirements for animals;
  • The ESA poses a direct threat to the health or safety of individual or others or has been deemed a dangerous animal.
  • Where the accommodation for the ESA would impose an undue financial or administrative burden on the residence life department of the university.

If a request is made during the academic year for an ESA placement, the decision will be made on a case by case basis considering the existing situation.


  • ESAs require daily food and attention, as well as daily assessment of their general health, behavior and overall welfare. Student-owners are solely responsible for attending to the ESA’s daily needs. The student must abide by current city, county, and state ordinances, laws, and/or regulations pertaining to licensing, vaccination, and other requirements for animals. It is the owner’s sole responsibility to know and understand these ordinances, laws, and regulations. The university has the right to, and requires, documentation of compliance with such ordinances, laws, and/or regulations, at any time.
  • The student is solely responsible for ensuring all veterinarians’ recommended vaccinations and flea and tick prevention (when appropriate) are completed and documented. Proof of vaccination flea/tick prevention are required before moving the ESA into the residence. The university reserves the right to request an updated verification at any time during the ESA’s residency.
  • The student is solely responsible for properly containing and disposing of all ESA waste in appropriate outside trash dumpsters. Litter boxes must be placed on mats, to prevent feces and urine from being tracked onto floor surfaces. While it is preferable that litter boxes are placed on a tiled floor, this may not always be possible, due to structural limitations within certain residence areas; nevertheless, precautionary measures will still be expected, in order to maintain a standard level of cleanliness within the student’s living space.
  • The student shall not bathe and/or groom the ESA, or clean its cage/crate, or bedding using residence hall facilities shared by other student residents (bathrooms, showers, dorm rooms or apartment facilities).
  • The student must immediately notify residence life staff if the ESA escapes or is unable to be located.

Additional owner responsibilities

  • The student is financially responsible for any and all actions of the ESA, involving bodily injury or property damage. This includes, but is not limited to, any replacement of furniture, carpet, window, or wall covering as well as cleaning costs associated with the ESA’s presence.
  • The student must notify residence life and disability services immediately if the ESA is no longer needed as an emotional support animal or is no longer in residence. To replace one ESA with a different ESA, the student must file a new request and comply with all terms and conditions herein specified.
  • The student agrees to continue to abide by all other residence life and university policies. An exception to policy that otherwise prohibits having an animal does not constitute an exception to any other university policy.
  • Office of Accessibility and Residence Life administrators have the authority to relocate a student and the ESA as necessary if circumstances are contrary to the terms of this agreement and/or other university policies. The ESA must not disrupt others (e.g. barking continuously, growling, howling, crying etc.). If the behavior of the ESA can be addressed by the student and the student can change the behavior of the ESA so that the ESA does not cause a disruption to the residential environment, then a written action plan must be submitted to the director of residence life or designee by the student. The action plan must include the steps that will be taken to alleviate the problem(s) in behavior and must also state a deadline for addressing the problem behavior. Any action plan must meet the approval of the Office of Accessibility and Residence Life. 

Emergency response

  • If university personnel are aware that an ESA is present when an emergency occurs, then the personnel will notify the responding emergency personnel that an ESA is present. University personnel will relay information concerning the type of ESA.
  • In the event of a building evacuation, emergency personnel may try to rescue both the student and the ESA. The ESA may have to be left behind, however, in some circumstances. Signage indicating the presence of an ESA in a room for emergency purposes will be given to the student by the Office of Accessibility, if desired by the student.  It is the student’s responsibility to place the sign on the door.

The student has a right to appeal any ESA-related decision in writing within two (2) business days to the Dean for Students and Director of Accessibility. To the extent reasonable, a decision will be returned to the student within five (5) business days of the receipt of the appeal. The decision of this administrator is the final decision for the university.