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Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Information

An Emotional Support Animal is considered a reasonable modification to the IC animal policy (2.40) restricting certain categories of animals/pets from IC student housing and as such is considered a housing accommodation.

There are two types of animals that may be allowed on campus due to a disability.   

  • A service animal is defined as a dog that has been trained to do work or perform specific tasks (e.g. guide dog for the blind) for an individual with a disability.  The task(s) performed by the dog must be directly related to the person's disability.  

    • A Service Animal, as defined by NYS and Federal A.D.A. Law, is not an ESA and not covered in this accommodation process.  A service animal does not have to be approved by SAS. 

      • While a service animal does not have to be approved by SAS, we ask students with a service animal living on campus to communicate the dog's presence with Residential Life.  This will help to avoid any questions by staff and grant awareness of the animal in case of an emergency.

  • An emotional support animal (ESA) is an animal that may provide emotional support, comfort, well-being, and companionship to alleviate the symptoms of a disability.  An ESA may be considered a reasonable housing accommodation. 

    • An ESA is defined and processes are determined under the Fair Housing Act, HUD, as well as Campus Policy. 

Both service animals and ESAs must meet health and safety guidelines established by the college. 

Students who require an emotional support animal due to a disability should fill out SAS’s Special Housing Accommodation form.  

  • SAS engages in an interactive process with each student and reviews requests for accommodations on an individualized, case-by-case basis.  

  • The SAS housing request committee meets once a week to evaluate requests for students who have completed all steps detailed below in the "How to Request an ESA" section.

  • The committee reviews files in the order in which they were completed. 

    • This may take up to three weeks depending on workload.

  • SAS communicates any approved accommodations to the Office of Residential Life.

  • Students should expect to meet with Residential Life to discuss and sign animal behavior guidelines.  Which includes:

    • Ensuring animal is licensed and up-to-date on vaccinations.

    • Confirming responsibility for maintaining control over the animal at all times.

    • Guidelines for care of animal's well-being and waste disposal.

    • Acknowledging that the accommodation may be revoked if the student fails to adhere to the guidelines or the animal poses a direct threat to others.

In order to request an emotional support animal, a student must: 

  • Meet with a specialist to discuss the request. Appointments can be scheduled online.

  • If not already done, register with Student Accessibility Services by completing the online Disability Identification Form. 

  • Complete the request for Special Housing Accommodation form.  (login with your IC email account) 

  • Provide documentation that supports your request to Student Accessibility Services. Please refer to our Documentation Guidelines. Documentation supporting ESA requests must contain the following specific criteria: 

    • Documentation must be written by a licensed professional

      •  Websites that sell certificates, registrations, and licensing documents are not sufficient to reliably establish the need for an ESA.

      • The best quality documentation comes from officially licensed mental health professionals with which the student has been communicating with for several months.

    • Must include a formal diagnosis that rises to the level of a disability as per ADA guidelines. 

    • Contain functional limitations related to the disability (The impact, severity, frequency, and/or pervasiveness of the condition.) 

    • Documentation should address why an ESA is a need for the student and how it fits with the student’s current treatment plan. 

Professionals can send the documentation to: sas@ithaca.edu or fax to our office at (607) 274-3957 

Do not submit your form or documentation directly to Residential Life.