Emotional Support Animals
An emotional support animal (ESA) is an animal whose purpose is to alleviate one or more effects of the individual’s diagnosed psychiatric or mental impairment by its presence. An emotional support animal is not a service animal under ADA, which is a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform a task for an individual with a disability. An emotional support animal is also not a pet, which is defined as a domestic animal that is kept for pleasure and companionship. Pets are not permitted in University residence halls.
In accordance with federal law (Fair Housing Amendments Act), Cedarville University will consider an accommodation request by a student with a significant mental health disability to keep an emotional support animal in residence at the University. ESAs are for the sole purpose of managing the symptomatology of a student’s mental health condition in University housing.
Before requesting an ESA, here’s what you need to know:
Residence halls at Cedarville University are generally not animal-friendly environments. The communal living nature of the residence halls requires the University to consider the comfort and concerns of all students in residence.
Emotional support animals are restricted to the student’s immediate living space and are not allowed in common areas throughout the residence hall.
ESAs must be caged or crated any time the student is absent from the room.
The University generally does not approve exotic animals, reptiles, amphibians, or other animals that carry zoonotic diseases.
ESAs are not to be left in the care of other students and must accompany the student when leaving campus overnight.
A confirmed, off-campus emergency contact in close proximity to the University is required.
The student is responsible for the animal’s behavior. If the ESA is disruptive to the living environment (for example, barking, odor from cages or litter boxes) or if there is damage done to college facilities, notice will be given to remove the animal within 48 hours. The student’s account will be charged for any property damage. In addition, should the ESA be removed from the premises for any reason, the student will be expected to fulfill housing obligations for the remainder of the semester.
Documentation of the student’s mental health condition is required from the student’s mental health provider. The provider will need to know and understand the student’s mental health difficulties, including current symptomatology and how the animal will help to alleviate the symptomatology.
CAUTION: Cedarville University is concerned about the growing number of questionable website services that create ESA letters for a fee to the purchaser. These websites are generally unreliable sources and do not produce documentation that adequately supports an ESA request.
To Begin the Process for Requesting an ESA
- Make an appointment with the Disabilities Compliance Coordinator for initial discussion of the requirements, the ESA policy, and the handler agreement.
- Work on getting documentation in order. A verification form will be provided that must be completed in its entirety by the student’s mental health provider. Alternatively, the mental health provider may submit an evaluation or letter that answers all of the questions on the verification form. Incomplete documentation will not be accepted. Students should take note of the cautionary statement above.
- Complete the electronic application to Disability Services, which requires uploading of documentation.
- Attend an interview with the Resident Life Deans and Disabilities Compliance Coordinator. Notification of a decision will be provided within 10 business days of the interview.