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Emotional Support Animals

UAR 343.01 is the comprehensive University policy about the various animals permitted on campus.

An Emotional Support Animal (ESA) is an animal that provides therapeutic emotional support for an individual with a diagnosed mental health disability. Unlike service animals that are trained to perform specific tasks that are important to the independence or safety of their disabled handler, ESAs are generally not trained to perform disability-specific tasks. Their therapeutic support is a function of their presence and interaction with the person with a disability. ESAs are not pets, but they typically are animals commonly kept in households as pets. An ESA may be a dog (most common), cat, small bird, rabbit, hamster, gerbil, fish, turtle, or other small, domesticated animal traditionally kept in the home for pleasure. Under guidelines from HUD, reptiles (other than turtles), barnyard animals, monkeys, and other non-domesticated animals are not considered common household animals. Exceptions to these guidelines regarding animals serving as ESAs will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

University Policies

The University recognizes the importance of Emotional Support Animals (ESAs), in accordance with the Fair Housing Act. MSU is committed to approving ESAs that provide individuals with mental health disabilities an equal opportunity to use and enjoy campus housing. The information on this page and in the ESA Request Form for Students explains the specific requirements applicable to an individual’s use of an ESA at the University. There is also a form to guide your treatment provider in making a recommendation. These forms are meant solely for qualifying for an ESA within University Housing and not intended for use with off-campus landlords. The forms also do not apply to “Service Animals” as defined by the ADAAA, and whose presence on campus is explained in the MSU Service Animal Section. Any requests for animals in residence for students with disabilities that are neither Service Animals nor ESAs should be directed to the Disability Services Office.

Emotional support animals (ESAs) for students with emotional/mental disabilities are an exception to the Office of Student Housing’s policy concerning pets when 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.

We respect the importance that an Emotional Support Animal may hold for you, so we advise early contact to allow adequate time to meet the requirements and make the arrangements. Keep in mind that this is neither an automatic nor immediate process; it will depend upon the demand from all students being served by the Disability Services office at the point when your completed materials are received. Some periods are busier than others, which is why we permit students to submit an ESA request up to 90 days in advance of the desired start date. Typically the review process can be completed within two weeks, so if you haven't been notified by then, feel free to make an emailed inquiry about the status of your request.

This site is intended to inform you of your role as well as what to expect from the University. It also contains some guidance that could spare you expense and time.


First, carefully read and complete the ESA Request Form for Students.

This form explains the nature and intent of this accommodation as well as the qualification process. It is especially important that you fully consider the responsibilities associated with having an ESA on campus that are not ordinarily part of a student’s lifestyle.

If you believe that an ESA as described here (and in further detail in the Request Form) applies to your disability-related needs, you should discuss it with a mental health treatment professional with whom you have a therapeutic relationship. Generally, this will be a local practitioner within the state of KY or in your hometown area. However, if you are receiving tele-mental health services, that provider may also be appropriate. If your treatment professional is supportive, you should ask them to complete the ESA Form for Providers.

NOTE: Beware of websites that advertise ESA recommendation letters based on the results of questionnaires and/or a short interaction with a health care professional. If you do an Internet search solely for this purpose, it could lead you to such a fee-based arrangement. Since personal knowledge of you, acquired through a therapeutic relationship, is lacking, the resulting determinations are not considered reliable for our purposes, even if a credentialed counselor writes the letter. The documentation obtained through such sites will not be accepted by the University so if you are uncertain, feel free to consult us before making such a purchase.

After completing the above steps, submit your request and your healthcare provider’s recommendation to the Assistant Director of Student Services (Disability Services) for consideration. They may be sent as an email attachment or faxed to 606-783-9190. Requests will not be processed in person unless assistance is needed in completing the form or if the Assistant Director of Student Services (Disability Services) asks to schedule a meeting to determine your eligibility.

NOTE: An ESA may not be kept in University housing at any time prior to receiving approval through the posted process. Even if an individual with a disability establishes the necessity for an ESA and it is allowed in University housing, the ESA is not permitted in other areas of the University (e.g. dining facilities, library, academic buildings, athletic buildings and facilities, classrooms, labs, etc.) unless approved as a separate accommodation by the Disability Services office. Violations will be treated as a disciplinary issue under University policy.

Questions about the ESA accommodation request process or eligibility criteria should be sent to the Assistant Director of Student Services Disability Services.

Contact Disability Services

Misty Litton, Assistant Director

202 ADUC
Morehead, KY 40351

PHONE: 606-783-5188
FAX: 606-783-9190