Emotional Support Animals in Housing


An Emotional Support Animal (ESA) is an animal that alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person's disability. While an animal is not required to have special training to be considered an ESA, its handler must have a disability and the ESA must mitigate the impact of the disability. For example, if the animal's presence provides comfort to its handler that lessens the impact of the disorder, the animal would be an ESA.

On a case-by-case basis, students may be permitted to keep an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) in on-campus housing as a reasonable accommodation for a documented disability after appropriate approval.

Request Deadlines

To request to bring an ESA to campus, a student must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) no fewer than three weeks prior to the start of the move-period. Due to winterim holidays, four weeks' notice is required if the initial request is for winter quarter. Such notice allows sufficient time to gather all necessary documentation for the joint review by SAS and the Office for Residential Life. If SAS requires additional documentation to consider a student's request, the approval process will likely take longer than three weeks. Students are therefore encouraged to plan ahead and submit their request well in advance of the start of a term in residence.

The College cannot guarantee that accommodation requests made after the designated deadline can be considered for the term in question. Generally, requests for an ESA in a given term cannot be approved once that term has commenced.

ESA Documentation Requirements

Students should start the request process by indicating on their housing application that they are applying through SAS for an ESA.

SAS Documentation Requirements

Students are required to submit the following to begin the ESA request process:

  1. SAS Application (if not already registered with SAS)
  2. ESA Verification Form completed by their provider

Especially if a student may also need academic accommodations and/or if more information regarding the ESA request is needed, an SAS advisor will request that the student schedule a meeting.

Two-Part Approval Process

To have an ESA in residence requires a two-part approval, first from SAS and then from the Office of Residential Life.

If, after reviewing a student's application, ESA verification form, and other student-provided information, SAS is in a position to provide its approval, it will notify the student and Residential Life that the student has been approved for part one of the process.

Then, the student will be sent the ESA Care Form for Residential Life, which, once submitted, will initiate part two of the request process. A student is not approved to bring an ESA to campus until they have completed the ESA Care Form for Residential Life and received approval confirmation from Residential Life.

Annual Renewal Is Required

Subsequent approval to have an ESA in College housing is reviewed annually. Students wishing to maintain an ESA accommodation are required to resubmit the ESA Verification Form and the ESA Care Form for Residential Life at least three weeks prior to fall term move-in. The fall renewal timeframe is independent of the initial approval date. (In other words, if an ESA is initially approved for spring, renewal will take place in fall as long as the student is in residence for fall.)

Related Responsibilities

Prior to bringing an approved ESA to campus, students should carefully review Dartmouth's Assistance Animal Policy and any Residential Life contracts to ensure they understand and can comply with their terms.

Quarterly Responsibilities

Each quarter after an ESA is approved, students are required to:

  1. notify Residential Life if their animal will or will not be in their residence
  2. update emergency contact information for their ESA
  3. notify Residential Life and SAS if they are requesting to bring a different animal

Providing the above information at least three weeks prior to move-in is the sole responsibility of the student. Failure to provide this information prior to the start of each term and/or to comply with aspects of any policies or contracts could result in losing ESA privileges.

Additional Considerations

Because the type of animal that can serve as an emotional support or assistance animal is not restricted to dogs, the campus authority will consider the following relative to the request:

  1. whether the animal is housebroken or otherwise can be kept clean in a campus dwelling;
  2. whether the animal is under the owner's control;
  3. whether the facility can accommodate the animal's type, size, and weight;
  4. whether the animal poses an unreasonable disruption to others living in the dwelling; and
  5. whether the animal's presence will compromise legitimate safety requirements necessary for safe operation of the facility.

The type/size of animal alone may result in denial as a reasonable accommodation. For instance, many exotic, wild, and agricultural animals (including but not limited to ducks, chickens, pigs and potbellied pigs, miniature goats, etc.) are likely inappropriate as an ESA. Venomous animals are strictly prohibited.