Emotional Support Animal (Policy SW-38)

Aligned with the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Clarkson College (hereafter referred to as "College") recognizes the importance of Emotional Support Animals (ESA) in providing emotional support to individuals with disabilities. The College is committed to allowing ESAs when necessary to provide individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to use and enjoy Student Housing. Approval of an ESA in Student Housing requires: 1) the individual has a disability, 2) the animal is necessary to afford the individual an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling, and 3) there is an identifiable relationship between the disability and the support the animal provides.

No ESA may be kept in College housing at any time prior to the student receiving approval for an ESA. Any student who brings an animal into the residence hall without the requisite approval will be subject to penalties under the College's Code of Conduct Policy. Generally, 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 documented mental health disability.

To be able to have an ESA reside in campus housing, the student must first contact the Accommodations Coordinator and complete the appropriate documentation requirements.

Definition of Emotional Support Animal

An ESA pertains to a category of animals that provide necessary emotional support to an individual with a disability such that this support alleviates one or more identified symptoms of an individual's disability. Unlike a Service Animal, an ESA does not need to be trained to provide a service or a task and does not accompany a person with a disability at all times. Fair Housing regulations only apply to housing facilities; therefore, ESAs are not permitted in other areas of the College (e.g. libraries, academic buildings, student center, classrooms, labs, lobbies, etc.).

Guidelines and Requirements for ESA's

An exception to the College's Pet Policy is granted for approved animals provided that their behavior, noise, odor, and waste do not exceed reasonable standards for a well-behaved animal and that these factors do not create an unreasonable living environment or frequent disruptions for other residents. If the noise (crying, barking, meowing, etc., especially when the student is not around) is excessive, as judged by residence life staff, it is grounds to rescind permission for the specific ESA to be in campus housing. The following factors (among others) are used as evidence in determining whether the presence of the animal is reasonable:

  • The size of the animal is too large for available assigned housing space (according to the Animal Welfare Act Regulations)
  • The animal’s presence would force another individual from his/her assigned housing (e.g. serious allergies)
  • The animal’s presence otherwise violates individuals’ right to a quiet living environment
  • The animal is not housebroken or is unable to live with others in a reasonable manner
  • The animal’s vaccinations and licensing is not up to date
  • The animal poses or has posed a direct threat to the individual or others, such as aggressive behavior towards or injuring the individual or others, or the potential of transmission of zoonotic diseases
  • The animal causes or has caused excessive damage to the residence hall space beyond reasonable wear and tear

Care and Supervision of Emotional Support Animal

The individual with the disability who has requested an accommodation of an ESA and received approval of said accommodation is the “owner.” The care, supervision, and custody of the ESA are the sole responsibility of the owner. The owner is required to ensure the animal is well cared for at all times. Any evidence of mistreatment or abuse may result in the immediate removal of the animal and/or discipline for the owner. The owner must be in full control of the ESA at all times. The ESA must be maintained (e.g., kept clean, free from fleas and/or ticks, etc.) by its owner and may not create safety hazards for other people.

The owner must abide by current city, county, and state ordinances, laws and regulations pertaining to licensing, vaccination, and other requirements for animals. It is the owner’s responsibility to know and understand these ordinances, laws, and regulations. The College has a right to require documentation of compliance with such ordinances, laws, and regulations, which may include a vaccination certificate. The College reserves the right to request documentation showing the animal has been licensed.

The owner is required to clean up after and properly dispose of the animal’s waste in a safe and sanitary manner. The College retains the right to designate a particular area for the ESA to relieve itself and/or for the disposal of its waste. The student is financially responsible for any and all actions of the animal 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 considered above normal and reasonable for the living facility.

If a student chooses to replace an existing ESA with a different ESA, the student must file a new request and comply with all terms and conditions herein specified.

The owner may not leave an ESA overnight in student housing to be cared for by any individual other than the owner. The owner is responsible for ensuring that the ESA is contained, as appropriate, when the owner is not present during the day while attending classes or other activities. The owner must provide the name and contact information of a person who is willing and able to take the ESA in the event of an emergency.

Request for Emotional Support Animal in Student Housing

Students must receive approval for an ESA by the Accommodations Coordinator prior to bringing their animal to campus. Therefore, the College requests that the student provide as much advance notice as possible prior to the desired move-in date so that the College can best accommodate the student and the animal. The Accommodations Coordinator, on a case-by-case basis, will appoint a committee to review documentation, make a decision, and communicate with the appropriate members of the College community. If approved, the Accommodations Coordinator will notify the Residence Hall Coordinator and Director of Facilities. The Residence Hall Coordinator will contact the student for additional details and, along with the student’s other housing preferences and/or needs, make a Student Housing assignment. All students requesting an ESA must complete the applicable ESA Process Paperwork.

A request for an ESA may be denied if: 1) there is not a determination of necessity for the presence of an ESA to create equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling, 2) there is no relationship identified between the disability of the individual and the support the animal provides, 3) the presence of the animal imposes an undue financial and/or administrative burden, 4) the presence of the animal fundamentally alters student housing policies, and/or 5) the presence of the animal would pose a direct threat to the health and safety of others or would cause property damage.

The College will not ask for or require the owner to pay a fee or surcharge for an ESA. However, the owner may be charged for any damage caused by the ESA beyond reasonable wear and tear to the same extent that other individuals are charged for damages beyond reasonable wear and tear. The owner’s living accommodations also may be inspected for fleas, ticks or other pests if necessary as part of the College’s standard or routine inspections. If fleas, ticks or other pests are detected through inspection, the residence will be treated using approved fumigation methods by a College approved pest control service. The owner will be billed for the expense of any pest treatment above and beyond standard pest management in Student Housing.

Violation of Policy

The owner must fully cooperate with College personnel with regards to meeting the terms of this policy and developing procedures for care of the ESA. The College may require the owner to remove the animal from Student Housing if: 1) the animal poses a direct threat to the health and safety of persons at the College, 2) the animal causes physical damage to property, 3) the presence of the animal fundamentally alters the nature of College operations, 4) the animal creates an unmanageable disturbance or interference with the College community, and 5) the owner does not comply with the owner responsibilities set forth in this policy. Any removal of an ESA will be done in consultation with the Accommodations Coordinator and may be appealed through the College’s grievance procedures.

Emotional Support Animal Student Housing Agreement: