Service Dogs & Emotional Support Animals
Service dogs and emotional support animals (sometimes referred to as therapy animals) play an important role in facilitating academic success for students with certain disabilities. There is a difference between a service dog and an emotional support animal (ESA).
A service dog is individually trained to do work or perform a specific task or tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability. Service dogs are allowed in all facilities on campus. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service dogs. Emotional support animals are only allowed in one’s dwelling (residence hall room), and not in any other facilities on campus.
As per the Americans with Disabilities Act, service dogs are permitted to accompany individuals with disabilities in all areas of Castleton University’s facilities, including classrooms.
An individual accompanied by a dog who they identify as a service dog, may not be asked about the nature or extent of their disability to determine whether the dog qualifies as a service animal. However, an individual may be asked:
- Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
- What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?
A service animal must be housebroken. It must be kept on a leash, harness, or other tether, unless the person is unable to hold those items, or if it would interfere with the dog’s task.
Emotional Support (ESA) or therapy animal
An emotional support animal (ESA) is an animal that provides emotional support or comfort that ameliorates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person’s disability. Unlike service animals, emotional support animals are not trained for a specific task. ESA’s are not allowed to accompany individuals in any classroom or public buildings on campus. They can only be kept in one’s dwelling, (Residence Hall room), as ESA’s are covered by the Fair Housing Act.
Documentation of a disability from a licensed physician, mental health provider, psychiatrist, or another qualified health professional with whom the requester has an ongoing relationship is required for an ESA to be considered by the Coordinator of Disability Services, in order to determine:
- That the individual qualifies as a person with a disability
- That the support animal is necessary to afford the individual an equal opportunity to enjoy the residence halls
- That there is a direct correlation between the disability and the assistance that the animal provides.
A student seeking to keep an ESA in University housing must make a formal request to the Coordinator of Disabilities Services. The application process is as follows:
The request should be made in writing at least 30 days before the start of the semester or academic year for which the presence of an ESA is requested. The individual requesting to keep an ESA in University housing must submit documentation from a licensed physician, mental health provider, psychiatrist, or other qualified health professional with whom s/he has an ongoing relationship. The documentation must:
- Be current;
- Be presented on professional letterhead;
- Be signed by the licensed provider;
- Indicate that the student making the request has a disability; and
- Describe how an ESA will provide support that alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of the requesting student’s disability.
In addition, before an ESA is approved, the owner must submit documentation from a licensed veterinarian that the ESA is in good health and that its required immunizations are up-to-date.
Upon receiving documentation, the Coordinator of Disabilities Services will meet with a Residence Life committee to review the request and will notify the student via Castleton e-mail about whether the request is approved or denied.
Approval is for a specific semester and/or academic year; thus, a request must be made each academic year.
Any approval is animal-specific. If a student intends to replace an approved ESA with a different animal, a new request must be made.
If approved, the student requesting an ESA must meet with the Director of Residence Life to review and sign an Emotional Support Animal Agreement which describes specific policies and procedures concerning animals in residences.
After that, individuals who may be impacted by the presence of the ESA will be notified as necessary, including, for example, University personnel, roommates and/or suitemates.
ESAs may not be brought into University until the student has met with the Director of Residence Life, signed the ESA agreement, and receives written notice from the Director of Residence Life that the animal can move in.