Emotional Support Animals

The Office of Student Housing has a no-pets policy in its campus residences. Emotional support animals (ESA) for students with emotional/mental disabilities are an exception to this policy under the Fair Housing Act when a request is made using the University's procedure and determined to be a reasonable accommodation. The Office of Disability Services is responsible for facilitating the process to ensure that legitimate needs are documented and addressed in a timely manner to afford an equal opportunity to use and enjoy University housing.

We respect the importance that an emotional support animal may hold for you, so we advise the earliest possible contact with us, no later than 30 days prior to the desired start date, to allow adequate time to meet the requirements and make the arrangements involved. Reading this entire document will inform you of your role in the process as well as what to expect from the University. It also contains some guidance that could spare you expense and time.
 

Request Accommodation

  • The first step is to officially register your request at the Office of Disability Services by completing the ESA Request Form for Students and setting up an appointment to meet with the Disability Services Coordinator, Evangeline Day, at 606-783-5188. Allow up to 45 minutes for this confidential meeting.
  • In addition to your discussion with the Disability Services Coordinator, you will need to ask the physician, psychiatrist or license mental health professional who has personal knowledge of you and your issues as a patient to complete the ESA Form for Providers. The most appropriate provider will be a professional from your hometown who has been directly involved in your most recent evaluation or treatment. Your provider's input must address the points that will enable us to fully consider your request. If necessary to determine your eligibility, Disability Services may request additional clarification from your provider. In that case, you will be asked to sign a release authorization before contact is made.
  • Do not be fooled by online companies that offer to certify or register emotional support animals. There is no such designation recognized legally nor at MSU - it is the person not the animal who must get qualified for this accommodation. 
  • Beware of advertising by online sites selling paperwork that recommends ESAs based on the results of questionnaires and/or a short interaction. A number of these sites have been identified as "documentation mills" and will not be accepted as valid providers by the University. 
  • Approvals to live with an ESA are not granted simply because a disability is established, but are based on the relevancy of the request to the individual case. In addition to your discussion with the disability service coordinator, you will need to provide supportive, relevant documentation from the physician, psychiatrist or licensed mental health professional who has personal knowledge of you and your issues as a patient. The most appropriate provider will be the professional who has been directly involved in your most recent evaluation or treatment. Your provider's input must address the points that will enable us to fully consider your request. If necessary to determine your eligibility, disability services may request additional clarification from your provider. In that case, you will be asked to sign a release authorization before contact is made.
  • Emotional Support Animals will not be approved if they would pose an undue financial or administrative burden on the University, if they pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others, or would cause substantial physical damage to the property of others that cannot be reduced or eliminated by a reasonable accommodation. If your accommodation request is denied by Disability Services, you will have a right to appeal the decision by contacting the Dean of Students at 109-B Enrollment Services Center, at 606-783-2070. 
  • If Disability Services determines that you qualify for the requested accommodation, you will be referred to meet with Housing staff prior to bringing the approved animal to campus. They will inform you of your responsibilities for the animal within the residence hall (waste disposal, behavioral control, healthcare and vaccinations, etc.) as well as oversee any necessary arrangements regarding roommates. You will not be charged a fee or deposit, although you will be responsible for the costs to repair any damages caused by the ESA. Emotional Support Animals are allowed only in University housing, which includes hallways and adjacent common use areas of your dwelling. They will not be permitted in other areas or buildings on the MSU campus unless the animal also qualifies as a service animal.
  • Any animal that is brought to campus before proper approval will be subject to immediate removal and the student will be subject to fines. 
Questions about the accommodation request process or eligibility criteria should be sent to the Disability Services Coordinator, Evangeline Day, at 606-783-5188.
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