Emotional Support Animal Policy

Allegheny College is committed to supporting and making reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities to the best of our ability and within our policies. Allegheny is also committed to compliance with state and federal laws regarding individuals with disabilities.

General Definitions
Emotional Support Animal (ESA) means any animal that provides comfort or alleviates one or more symptoms or effects of a disabling condition for a person with a qualified disability. An Emotional Support Animal is not a pet. An ESA is a companion animal that provides therapeutic benefit to an individual with a mental or psychiatric disability. The person seeking to bring an ESA onto campus must have a verifiable disability, not simply a desire for companionship. An ESA can serve as a “reasonable accommodation” under the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 (FHA or FHAct) in those housing communities that have a “no pet” policy. The ESA is not required to have any specialized training or certifications.

Qualifications and Process
1. With advance approval, a student with a disability may have an ESA in their residence hall as an accommodation. The ESA must stay within the confines of the residence hall and grounds immediately surrounding the hall. Only animals that do not pose a direct threat to the health and safety of others, would not cause substantial physical damage to College property or the property of others, or do not fundamentally alter housing operations will be considered.

2. Though a request may be made to the Disability Services Office at any time, students seeking to bring an ESA on campus should submit all materials (forms and documentation) by the following dates:

New Students- June 15th   Returning Students- March 1st

The Housing Accommodation Committee will consider requests from newly enrolled students and requests made by current students relating to a newly discovered need on a case by case basis throughout the semester.

3. The request must include documentation on official letterhead from a licensed mental health professional (i.e., psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker) or otherwise qualified medical or disability professional who is providing on-going treatment for the disability.  The request must also include a completed Emotional Support Animal Request For Information form, which asks for the following:

– Evidence of a disability necessitating the prescribing of the emotional support animal;
– Symptoms for which treatment is needed;
– Length of time the prescribing individuals has been working with the student regarding their mental health impairment.
– Evidence of the connection between the diagnosis/symptoms and the use of the support animal.
– Evidence that the student will not be able to use and enjoy the residence hall or to participate in the services or programs if the emotional support animal is not allowed.

4. Prior to approval , the student must provide a physical description of the animal including height and weight and confirmation that the animal is housebroken or confined such that housebreaking is not necessary (e.g., fish in a fishbowl). Also include any equipment that will be needed for the care of the animal. This includes a Veterinarian Verification Form.

5. The request will be reviewed by the Housing Accommodation Committee, which is composed of representatives from Residence Life, Disability Services, Dean of Student Office, and the Counseling Center. The committee meets to review requests every 3 weeks during the Academic Year. The student will be notified of a decision on their request within (14) days after the Housing Accommodation Committee has met to discuss their application. Appeals for decisions made by this committee should be submitted to the Dean of Students within (7) days of the official notification of the decision.

Responsibilities of the Handler Owners granted the accommodation of an emotional support animal in their residence hall unit shall be subject to the following rules. The owner must:

-Keep the Animal in Residence Hall Unit. An ESA must be contained within the owner’s privately assigned individual living accommodations except to the extent the
individual is taking the animal out for natural relief. When the animal is outside the private individual living accommodations, it must be in an animal carrier or controlled by a leash or harness. ESA’s are not allowed in any College facilities other than the housing to which the resident is assigned.

– Keep the Animal under Control. The ESA must be properly housed and restrained or otherwise under the dominion and control of the owner at all times. No owner shall permit the animal to go loose or run at large. If an animal is found running at large, the animal is subject to capture and confinement and immediate removal from College housing.

– Abide by Laws and Policies. The owner 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 responsibility to know and understand these ordinances, laws, and regulations. The College has the right to require documentation of compliance with such ordinances, laws, and/or regulations, which may include a vaccination certificate and license.. Additionally, the owner must abide by all equally applicable residential policies, such as assuring that the animal does not unduly interfere with the routine activities of the residence or cause difficulties for individuals who reside there.

– Ensure the Animal is Well Cared-For. The owner is required to ensure the animal is well cared for at all times. Any evidence of mistreatment, abuse, neglect, or leaving the animal unattended for unreasonably long periods of time may result in immediate removal of the animal and/or discipline for the responsible individual pursuant to the College Student Code of Conduct and/or any housing-related sanctions. College personnel shall not be required to provide care or food for any animal including, but not limited to, removing the animal during emergency evacuation for events such as a fire alarm. Emergency personnel will determine whether to remove the animal and may not be held responsible for the care, damage to, or loss of the animal. Additionally, ESA’s may not be left overnight in College housing to be cared for by any individual other than the owner. If the owner is to be absent from his/her residence hall overnight or longer, the animal must accompany the owner. The owner is responsible for ensuring that the animal is contained, as appropriate, when the owner is not present during the day while attending classes or other activities.

-Be Responsible for Property Damage. The owner is required to clean up after and properly dispose of the animal’s waste in a safe and sanitary manner and, when provided, must use animal relief areas designated by the College. An individual with a disability may be charged for any damage caused by his or her ESA’s beyond reasonable wear and tear to the same extent that it charges other individuals for damages beyond reasonable wear and tear. The owner’s living accommodations may also 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 owner will be billed for the expense of any pest treatment above and beyond standard pest management in the residence halls. The College shall have the right to bill the owner’s account for unmet obligations under this provision.

Removal of the Animal
The College reserves the right to ask the student to remove the animal from campus if: The animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others or causes substantial property damage to the property of others, including College property;  The animal’s presence results in a fundamental alteration of a College program; The owner does not comply with the Owner’s Responsibilities set forth above; or  The animal or its presence creates an unmanageable disturbance or interference with the College community.

Violations of this policy will be referred to the Dean of Students Office.