Comfort Animal Policy

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Definition

Emotional Support/Comfort Animals are conceptualized as animals that may provide companionship, relieve a sense of loneliness, sometimes help relieve an individual's depression, anxiety, phobias, but do not have special training to perform life tasks for a disabled individual.

Though these animals may provide some assistance to a disabled individual, they are not trained or limited to working with disabled individuals.


Guidelines and Requirements

The College recognizes that there are individuals who may require the use of an emotional support/comfort animal, within the residence hall, as part of their mental health treatment plan. For an animal to qualify for inclusion in the residence hall, the animal must be necessary to allow the disabled individual with an equal opportunity to use/enjoy the residence hall or to participate in the college's residence hall program/services.

The disabled individual will have to provide the College's Office of Accessibility Services with documentation from a health care provider that a relationship exists between the individual's diagnosed disability and the assistance the emotional support/comfort animal provides.

If the following documentation requirements are met, the college will permit the emotional support/comfort animal to reside in a residence hall unless the College can demonstrate that allowing the emotional support/comfort animal would impose an undue financial burden on, or fundamentally alter the nature of the residence hall program and services.


Documentation

The individual requesting the inclusion, within a residence hall, of an emotional support/comfort animal must submit an evaluative report from the individual's attending mental health professional containing a diagnosis, and fully articulate the relationship of the emotional support/comfort animal to the individual's disability and treatment plan.

For additional clarification of documentation see the Guidelines for Psychological/Psychiatric Disorders Documentation.


Limitations

  • The emotional support/comfort animal, under this policy/procedure, allows the emotional support/comfort animal to reside in the residence hall with the disabled individual.
  • The emotional support/comfort animal must remain under the supervision/control of the disabled individual.
  • The emotional support/comfort animal is limited to the residence hall and the area designated by the college for exercise and the bodily functions/needs.
  • The disabled individual is responsible for picking up and appropriate removal of animal fecal matter.

The emotional support/comfort animal is subject to all of the following provisions of the College's Service Animal Policy:

Animal

  • Licensing – the animal must meet all of the licensing requirements of the community in which the animal resides and wear, at all times, the communities required tags.
  • Health Records – The animal must have, and the disabled individual must provide to the Office of Accessibility Services, a health statement that includes a record of vaccinations from a licensed veterinarian dated within the last calendar year. Such vaccinations and proof of vaccinations must be provided to the Office of Accessibility Services on an annual basis. The animal must be well groomed, and measures should be taken by the owner for flea and odor control. The animal's owner must be considerate of other members of the College community when providing maintenance and hygiene assistance to the animal.

Control Requirements

  • When the animal is not in the student's residence hall room, it must be on a leash at all times. The animal should never be permitted to wander about off leash except in those situations in which the animal is working.
  • The partner/handler must be in full control of the animal at all times.
  • Emotional Support/Comfort animals are prohibited from kitchens and food preparation areas except those in residence facilities.
  • The partner/handler is financially responsible for any damage to College property or the person or property of College students, staff, or visitors caused by the animal.

Conflicting Disabilities

  • Persons with conflicting disabilities, i.e. asthma or other respiratory illness, allergies, or a phobia to animals should contact/register with the College's Office of Accessibility Services and provide medical documentation citing the nature of the disability, seriousness of the disability, and the nature of the conflict. Resolution of the student/staff concern will consider the disability needs of the parties involved and will be accomplished as expeditiously as possible.

Exclusion from Campus

An emotional support/comfort animal may be excluded from campus for the following reasons:

  • Disruptive behavior: including, but not limited to, barking, whining, growling, wandering, sniffing (people, tables in eating areas, other people's belongings) initiation of contact with others without partner's permission
  • Illness
  • Hygiene-dirty strong odor, evidence of having flees, ticks, etc.
  • Animal is not on a leash
  • Obstruction of aisles or passageways
  • Aggressive behavior

Appeal Procedure

  • Appeals concerning this policy may be addressed through the Office of Accessibility Services Appeal Procedure which is contained in the Student Handbook.