Emotional Support Animals

Q&As about Emotional Support Animals

Q: Does MICA allow Emotional Support Animals (ESAs)? What do I need to do to request approval to bring an ESA to campus?

A: Yes – MICA allows a student to bring an ESA to College housing IF the student is approved for an ESA as a disability accommodation.

A student wishing to bring an ESA to College housing will need to meet with an Accessibility and Disability Services (ADS) staff member as well as complete and submit a request for disability accommodation form along with all required documentation. ESA documentation should include the following:

  1. Diagnostic statement identifying the nature and extent of the impairment and how the diagnosis is supported by the criteria set forth in the DSM-5.
  2. Detailed description of the current functional impact of the impairment without any mitigating treatment. Describe how the impairment limits one or more major life activities.
  3. Description of the expected progression or stability of the impact of the impairment over time.
  4. Evidence of a direct relationship between the disability and the assistance the animal provides. How does the animal’s support alleviate at least one of the identified effects of the existing disability?
  5. Evidence that the animal is necessary to afford the student an equal opportunity to use and enjoy MICA housing.

Documentation should be on official letterhead, even if the recommendation is coming from MICA Student Counseling, and signed by a licensed professional. The professional must have comprehensive training in the differential diagnosis of mental disorders and direct experience in diagnosis and treatment of college students. Qualified diagnosing professionals would include licensed psychologists or neuro-psychologists, psychiatrists, licensed clinical social workers, or other professionals with such training and expertise in the diagnosis of mental disorders.

Q: Where are Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) allowed on campus?

A: An ESA is ONLY allowed in and around a student’s campus residence. Unlike service animals which are authorized under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and generally allowed in facilities across campus, ESAs are approved as disability accommodations specifically to give students with documented disabilities an equal opportunity to use and enjoy College housing in accordance with the Fair Housing Act. An ESA is not a service animal or a pet. Pets are not permitted in College housing.

Q: Can Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) go other places on campus besides College housing?

A: An ESA is only approved for College housing. If a student wishes to have the ESA go other places on campus, separate approval must be sought from the Office of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) under MICA’s Pet Policy. The Pet Policy is not administered by ADS and any approved disability accommodation for an ESA does not apply to campus buildings other than housing. A student bringing an ESA to places on campus other than housing is expected to comply with all applicable provisions of the MICA Pet Policy and EHS registration process.

Q: How far in advance do I need to make my request to bring an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) into College housing?

A: A student should make a request for an ESA as a disability accommodation and provide the required documentation outlined in this document as soon as possible in advance of moving into College housing. If the request and required documentation are received fewer than sixty (60) days before the individual intends to move into College housing, MICA cannot guarantee that it will be able to process the request and make arrangements to meet the student’s accommodation needs, if approved, during the first academic term following the request. If the need for the accommodation arises when a student already resides in College housing, the student should make the request and submit the required documentation as soon as possible; however, MICA cannot guarantee that it will be able to process the request and make arrangements to meet the student’s accommodation needs, if approved, during the term in which the request is received. In no case may a student bring the animal to campus pending the final decision on a request for accommodation, only after a request is approved and all paperwork requirements are met.

Q: If I am approved for an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) as a disability accommodation, what are my responsibilities before and after bringing the ESA to campus?

A: A student approved to bring an ESA into College housing will need to provide/complete the following before the ESA is brought to campus: (1) submit a signed and completed Veterinarian Verification Form from the animal’s treating veterinarian confirming that the animal is up to date on all required and recommended vaccinations, is in good health, and is free from diseases or conditions communicable to humans; (2) meet with ADS staff to sign an official disability accommodation letter; and (3) meet with Residence Life staff to sign an Emotional Support Animal Agreement, specifying and agreeing to all details required by MICA regarding the student’s responsibilities for care and control of the ESA, conditions of care and supervision, the specific housing areas in which the ESA will be allowed, student responsibility for property damage or personal injury caused by the ESA, circumstances justifying removal of the ESA, and other MICA conditions and student responsibilities associated with the presence of the ESA in campus housing.

Related Links:

MICA Office of Environmental Health and Safety

Service Animal Policy

ESA Policy

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