Emotional Support Animal Accommodations
The Office of Student Disability Services is required to offer accommodations to students based on their disability. Please see our full list of Accommodations for more information. Most reasonable accommodations will need to be requested by the student each semester. Requests can be made through an interactive process between the student and an SDS staff member.
The Office of Student Disability Services also has Enhanced Services, called Project Pass, which students can choose to participate. By signing up for Project Pass (enhanced services), students are required to use all the services. Learn more about Project Pass..
Accommodations for Emotional Support Animals
The residential facilities on the campus of Murray State are not pet friendly. Fish in an enclosed aquarium (10-gallon size maximum per resident) are the only pets allowed in the residence halls and College Courts.
Residents MUST register with the Office of Student Disability Services (SDS), and provide documentation from a qualified medical provider to support the need for having an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) in their on-campus residence PRIOR to bringing their ESA to campus. A student/resident who is caught having an ESA in their on-campus residence without having the approval of SDS:
will be given 3-business days to register with SDS, and provide appropriate documentation for the ADA Subcommittee of the Affirmative Action Committee to review to determine if the animal is to be recognized as an ESA, or
the student/resident will be expected to remove the animal from campus within 3-business days.
Failure to comply will result in the student/resident being subject to disciplinary action, which may include loss of visitation privileges, or a hold being placed on the student’s account.
In addition, misrepresentation of a Service Animal is a criminal offense punishable by a monetary penalty.
What are the main differences between an emotional support animal and a service animal?
Service animals are animals that are trained to perform a specific work or task. The specific work or task that these animals are trained to perform must be directly related to the individuals disability. A common type that most people are familiar with is a seeing-eye dog; a dog that is specially trained to serve as navigation or ‘sight’ for an individual with a visual impairment. There are only two types of animals that the Americans with Disabilities Act has approved for use as a service animal (dogs or miniature horses). Service animals are not considered an accommodation; rather, they are required for accessibility purposes. Service animals are generally allowed to go wherever their owner goes (i.e. the animal may be taken to class, to an on-campus job, to the cafeteria, to the library, etc.).
Emotional support animals are not specifically trained to perform a work or task; therefore, there are some limitations associated with having an emotional support animal on campus. The Fair Housing Amendments Act influences how emotional support animals are governed, which includes on campus housing options at colleges and universities. Emotional support animals are not trained to perform a specific work or task. Although, comfort, support, companionship and being in the presence of an animal does have therapeutic benefits, it does not equate to performing a specific work or task. Since emotional support animals are not trained to perform a specific work or task and are considered an accommodation and not for accessibility purposes, the animal(s) is limited to the owner’s living space. Therefore, it is not permissible for an emotional support animal to accompany their owner to class, to an on-campus job, to the cafeteria, to the library, into a residence hall (other than the one building they have been assigned to live in while staying on campus), into another resident’s room within their assigned residence hall, etc.
Emotional support animals are to be considered domesticated animals that are traditionally kept in the home for pleasure rather than for commercial purposes, and that provide therapeutic benefit to an individual with a mental or emotional disability. A partial list of disabilities covered includes: anxiety, depression, bipolar/mood disorders, panic attacks, and other emotional/psychological conditions. Individuals are encouraged to converse with their counselor or therapist to determine which type of animal would be most appropriate.
Apply for an emotional support animal
Step 1 - In-Take Appointment
Residents requesting to bring an emotional support animal to campus are required to meet with the Director of the Office of Student Disability Services. If a student is requesting a support animal prior to living on campus this in-take appointment can be completed after the semester begins (within the first two weeks of classes). If a student currently lives on campus and initiates the request for an emotional support animal while the semester is in progress the in-take appointment will be the first phase of the application process. To schedule an in-take appointment with our Director please call our main office at 270.809.2018.
Step 2 - Documentation
Complete and submit the Application for an EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMAL for a STUDENT with a Disability Form to the Office of Student Disability Services:
Via fax: 270.809.4339
Via email: email@example.com
In person: 423 Wells Hall
Documentation may also be included as an electronic attachment as part of your online housing application. Students returning to live on campus must renew their request annually and provide updated documentation every year.
Section 1 of the form referenced above is to be completed by the student.
Section 2 is to be completed by the resident’s doctor, mental healthcare provider, licensed therapist, counselor or from a qualified provider who is familiar with therapeutic benefits of emotional support animals.
Step 3 - Forms
Forms: Students will also be expected to complete a Student Registration Application as well as a Reasonable Housing Accommodation Form.
Students will also be expected to complete an Emotional Support Animal Policy Form. This form will be submitted electronically, and will be made available to the student to access via email.
Step 4 - Email from Roommate(s) and/or Suite-mate(s)
Students will also be expected to communicate with their roommate and/or suite-mates that they have requested to bring an animal to campus. Your roommate and/or suite-mates will need to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org indicating that they are OK sharing space with you and your animal. If you have multiple roommates and/or suite-mates we will need to receive an email from each one individually.
Step 5 - Picture of Your Emotional Support Animal
Residents must also email a picture of their emotional support animal to the Office of Student Disability Services - email@example.com
Step 6 - ADA Subcommittee of the Affirmative Action Committee
Once your application is complete your request for an emotional support animal will be reviewed by the ADA Subcommittee of the Affirmative Action Committee. You will be notified via email (sent to your Murray State University email account) with a decision as soon as possible. The Housing Office will be notified of this decision as well.
Step 7 - Requirements from the Department of Housing
If your request for an emotional support animal is approved your Residence Director and/or your Resident Advisor will contact you to review a document called Guidelines and Agreement for Maintaining an Animal in Murray State University Housing. This document outlines the responsibilities of you the owner for maintaining an animal on campus.
The Housing Office will also notify all residents in your building to let everyone know that ‘a resident’ has been approved for an emotional support animal. You will not be singled out by name and your room number will not be disclosed. This message is intended to let all residents know that the University’s pet policy has not changed and that students would need to have a valid, medically documented reason for having an animal on campus. This email message is also intended to give students the opportunity to let the Housing Office know if they have any allergies or other concerns about living in the same building with an animal(s).
Please note that there are some areas within the residential colleges that have been deemed as animal free zones. Depending on which residence hall you live in and what type of animal you are requesting to bring to campus, a reassignment may be necessary. If a reassignment is needed, the Housing Office will communicate with you your relocation options.
You will also be expected to provide the Housing Office with proof of vaccinations for your animal. This is to ensure that your animal has a clean bill of health and is safe to reside on campus.
The Housing Office will not charge you an additional deposit (i.e. pet deposit); however, please note you would be responsible for paying for any damages that may occur as a result of something your animal may have done in your room or in your residence hall.
By law the University is required to maintain record of individuals residing on campus who have disclosed to the University (i.e. the Office of Student Disability Services or the Housing Office) that they have a disability. If your request for an emotional support animal is granted by the ADA Subcommittee of the Affirmative Action Committee, by law your name will be added to the House Bill 321 listing. This listing will remain confidential and will only be used in the event of an emergency that would require the evacuation of your residence hall. Names on the HB 321 listing will only be revealed to individuals who have been trained to respond to emergency situations (i.e. the Housing Department staff and both campus and community emergency personal).
Step 8 - Required Communication
You will need to contact both the Office of Student Disability Services and the Housing Office:
when you plan to bring your emotional support animal to campus
if it is necessary to make a change to the type of animal you will have on campus
if your ESA is no longer needed on campus
Office of Student Disability Services – Ken Ashlock (Director), firstname.lastname@example.org
Housing Office – Dr. David Wilson (Director), email@example.com