Service and Emotional Support Animals

Can I have an emotional support animal in “no pets” housing? 

A comfort and therapeutic companion animal is referred to as emotional support animal (ESA). Not a service animal.  HUD/Fair Housing regulation provides that ESAs be considered a reasonable accommodation in campus housing.  Since HUD/Fair Housing regulations only apply to housing facilities, the animal may not be allowed in other areas of campus.

What documentation is needed for an ESA to be considered a reasonable accommodation?

In order for an emotional support animal to be considered a reasonable accommodation there must be documentation of the following:  1) the existence of a disability; 2) a relationship between the disability and the relief the animal provides; 3) the animal is necessary in order for the resident to use and enjoy an on-campus residence.  The health and safety of students, faculty, staff, and the animal is an important concern; therefore, each request for such an accommodation will be made on a case by case basis.  Only in cases where is readily apparent that an animal is a service animal, requests for an accommodation regarding service animals or ESAs should be supported by sufficient information or documentation for proper consideration of the request. Typically, an emotional support animal is prescribed to a person with a disability by a healthcare or mental health professional and is an integral part of a person’s treatment process.  The provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship does not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of defining a service animal.

What about a Service Animal (Dogs)?

Title 11 and 111 of the Americans with Disabilities Act allows a person with a disability to be accompanied by a service animal which is generally limited to dogs.  Service animals (or service dogs) are defined as dogs that are trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.  Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, and alerting/protecting a person who is having a seizure.  The work or task of a service animal must be directly related to the person’s disability.

What is the difference between a service animal and an emotional support animal?

The Department of Justice ADA rules define “service animal” as any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a disabled person.  The rules specify that “the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition.” Thus, trained dogs are the only species of animals that may qualify as service animals under the ADA (there is a separate provision regarding miniature horses) and emotional support animals are expressly precluded from qualifying as service animals. Service animals must be permitted to accompany the individual to all areas where customers are normally allowed to go. Prairie View A&M University asked that all persons with a disability requesting accommodations would self-identify and provide documentation.  However, no test or accommodation analysis is applied to an individual using a “service animal”.

What are the responsibilities of the Resident (student, staff or faculty) owner?

Service animal and ESA owners must comply with all state laws and local animal ordinances, as well as Housing policies and guidelines including, but not limited to, the following:

  1. It is unlawful for owners to commit acts of animal cruelty on private or state property.
  2. There are no species limitations.  ID or rabies tag is required for dogs if a tag is required by the county.
  3. Resident is responsible for having all animal waste cleaned up (both indoors and outdoors) in a timely and effective fashion.
  4. Animal must be well-behaved. This generally includes no barking, whining, squawking, scratching, chewing, or aggression.
  5. Animal must be under control. The resident is responsible at all times for the actions of his or her animal.  The animal shall not disturb, annoy, or cause any nuisance to other members of the campus community.  Resident is responsible for any odors, noise, damage, or other conduct of the animal that disturbs others or damages the premises.  Resident will be required to pay for any damage and/or excessive cleaning fees caused by the animal.
  6. Provide verification of all veterinarian recommended vaccinations as well as proof of absence of communicable diseases, fleas and parasites. Resident will provide copy of the vaccination record.
  7. Resident will provide housing with contact information for an alternate caregiver and assume responsibility for emergency care.
  8.  A service animal in training shall not be denied admittance or accommodations when accompanied by an approved trainer.
  9. Anyone with questions or who wants to submit a request for an ESA should do so at

What are the rights of Housing staff?

Housing staff has the right to remove an ESA that is left alone in a room or apartment for an extended period of time and is not being properly cared for.  They may contact the resident for removal of the animal or Animal Control to have the animal removed. Any cost for removing the animal if the resident is not present and arrangements have not been made by the resident for the care or removal, shall be the responsibility of the resident.