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Emotional Support Animals

Maintaining an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) within the Residential Community

Western New England University recognizes the importance of “Service Animals” as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) and the broader category of “Emotional Support Animals” (ESAs) under the Fair Housing Act that provide physical and/or emotional support to individuals with disabilities. The University is committed to allowing individuals with disabilities the use of a Service Animal on campus to facilitate their full-participation and equal access to the University’s programs and activities. Western New England University is also committed to allowing Emotional Support Animals, necessary to provide individuals with disabilities, an equal opportunity to use and enjoy University housing. This Policy explains the specific requirements applicable to an individual’s use of an ESA in University housing. The University reserves the right to amend this policy as circumstances require. This policy applies solely to Emotional Support Animals which may be necessary in University housing. It does not apply to “Service Animals” as defined by the ADAAA.

Although it is the policy of Western New England University that individuals are generally prohibited from having animals of any type in University housing, the institution will consider a request by a student with a disability for reasonable accommodation to allow an ESA that is necessary because of a disability, if this request is reasonable. However, no ESA may be kept in University housing at any time prior to the individual receiving approval as a reasonable accommodation.


An Emotional Support Animal (ESA) is a category of animals that provide necessary emotional support to individuals with a mental or psychiatric disability and is selected to play an integral part of a person’s treatment process [1]. The ESA must demonstrate excellent temperament and reliable, predictable behavior. An ESA must be prescribed to an individual with a disability by a physician or mental health professional. An ESA is not a Service Animal.

The question in determining if an Emotional Support Animal will be allowed in University housing is whether or not the ESA is necessary because of the individual’s disability to afford the individual an equal opportunity to use and enjoy University housing and its presence in University housing is reasonable. However, even if the individual with a disability establishes necessity for an ESA and it is allowed in University housing, an ESA is not permitted in other areas of the University (e.g. dining facilities, libraries, academic buildings, athletic buildings and facilities, classrooms, labs, individual centers, etc.).

To be allowed to have either a Service Animal or an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) reside in campus housing, the student must first contact the Office of Student Disability Services and complete the appropriate documentation requirements.

Guidelines and Requirements for ESA

An exception to the University animal and 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 or meowing, especially when the student isn’t around) is excessive, as judged by residence life staff, it is grounds to terminate the student’s contract. The following factors (among others) are used as evidence in determining whether the presence of the animal is reasonable, or in the making of housing assignments for students with ESAs:

  • The size of the animal is too large for available assigned housing space;
  • The animal's presence would force another individual from individual housing (e.g. serious allergies);
  • The animal's presence otherwise violates individuals' right to peace and quiet enjoyment;
  • The animal is not housebroken or is unable to live with others in a reasonable manner;
  • The animal's vaccinations are not up-to-date;
  • The animal poses or has posed in the past a direct threat to the individual or others, such as aggressive behavior towards or injuring the individual or others; or
  • The animal causes or has caused excessive damage to housing beyond reasonable wear and tear.

The ESA must be contained within the student’s room at all times, except when transported by the student outside the private living space (room, suite, apartment or townhouse). It may not be taken into hallways (except for access and egress to/from the facility), lounges, bathrooms, laundry facilities, or other areas of the residence facility. It also cannot be taken into classrooms or other buildings on campus.

Terms and Conditions for Emotional Support Animals (ESA)

Once a student has registered with the Office of Student Disability Services and has been approved to have an ESA as an accommodation in the residence hall, the following additional requirements must be met:

  • The student must register his or her approved animal with the Office of Student Disability Services and Residence Life by providing all necessary paperwork.
  • 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 University has the right to require documentation of compliance with such ordinances, laws, and/or regulations, which may include a vaccination certificate.
  • The student is solely responsible for ensuring all veterinarians’ recommended vaccinations are completed and documented. Proof of vaccination is required before moving the animal into the residence. Western New England University reserves the right to request an updated verification at any time during the animal’s residency.
  • The student is solely responsible for properly containing and disposing of all animal waste in appropriate outside trash dumpsters. Litter boxes should always be placed on mats, so that feces and urine are not tracked onto carpeted surfaces. While it is preferable that litter boxes are placed on a tiled or vinyl bathroom floor, this may not always be possible, due to structural limitations within certain residence areas; nevertheless, precautionary measures will still be expected, in order to maintain a standard level of cleanliness within the student's living space.
  • The student’s residence may be inspected for fleas, ticks or other pests at any time as needed. 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 Student will be billed for the expense of any pest treatment.
  • The student will not bathe and/or groom the ESA using residence hall facilities.
  • The student is solely responsible for assuring that the animal does not unduly interfere with the routine activities of the residence or cause difficulties for students who reside there. Sensitivity to residents with allergies and to those who fear animals is important to ensure the well-being of the residential community.
  • Emotional Support Animals may not be left overnight in University 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 ESA is contained, as appropriate, when the Owner is not present during the day while attending classes or other activities.
  • The student must provide contact information for an alternate caregiver/emergency contact who will take responsibility of the Emotional Support Animal (ESA) and remove it from campus should the student be unable to care for it (e.g. hospitalization). This caregiver/emergency contact must reside OFF campus and must be available to remove the ESA in a timely manner appropriate for the animal species and needed careNote: If the emergency contact is not able to remove the ESA in a timely manner appropriate for the animal species and needed care, the animal MAY be boarded at the owner’s expense.
  • 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 room, suite, apartment or townhouse.
  • The student must provide written consent for Disability Services to disclose information regarding the request for and presence of the ESA to those individuals who may be impacted by the presence of the animal including, but not limited to, Residence Life personnel and potential and/or actual roommate(s)/neighbor(s). Such information shall be limited to information related to the animal and shall not include information related to the individual’s disability.
  • The student must notify Residence Life and the Office of Student Disability Services in writing if the animal is no longer needed as an emotional support animal or is no longer in residence. To replace one animal with a different animal, the student must file a new request and comply with all terms and conditions herein specified.
  • The student agrees to continue to abide by all other residential University policies. An exception to policy that otherwise prohibits having an animal does not constitute an exception to any other University policy.
  • Should the animal be removed from the premises for any reason, the student is expected to fulfill her/his housing obligations, including financial obligations, for the duration of the housing contract.
  • Residence Life administrators have the authority to relocate a student and the support animal as necessary if circumstances are contrary to the terms of this contract and/or other University policies.
  • Any violation of the above stipulations may result in immediate removal of the animal from Western New England University. If this occurs, the student has a right to appeal the decision through the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students.
  • ESA accommodations are approved per academic year. All ESA and housing accommodation requests are required to be renewed prior to housing selection. Students must schedule a meeting with Student Disability Services (SDS) and submit an updated housing accommodation request form in order for the accommodation to be considered. SDS may require updated medical information to support this request.
  • Students requesting an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) must submit updated vaccine information for the animal each academic year.  All current state and local animal licenses, where applicable, are required for the ESA. The ESA must be immunized against diseases common to that type of animal. Dogs and cats must have proof of current rabies vaccination. A copy of the current licensing documentation for the ESA will be kept on file and must be kept current.  

[1] See Appendix A to 28 C.F.R. § 35.104.