Emotional Support Animals

An emotional support animal (ESA) is a companion animal, which provides therapeutic benefit, such as alleviating or mitigating some symptoms of the disability, to an individual with a mental or psychiatric disability. To be afforded protection under United States federal law, a person must meet the federal definition of disability and must have a signed statement from a physician or other qualified medical professional stating that the person has that disability and that the emotional support animal provides a benefit for the individual with the disability. An animal does not need specific training to become an emotional support animal. In the United States, federal protection against housing discrimination is afforded under two federal statutes: Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Federal Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988.

Berea College requires all emotional support animals be registered through the Disability & Accessibility Services (DAS) prior to being brought to campus and entering the residence halls. During this registration process you will need to make an appointment with DAS and provide verification of your disability and a note from a qualified individual of the purpose and need of the emotional support animal. While not an exhaustive list, examples of "qualified individuals" include treating physicians, psychologists, psychiatrists and licensed counselors. DAS will provide authorization that will indicate your animal has been approved and authorizes you to have your animal on campus and in your residence hall room. An updated vaccination record for the animal must be provided to the Housing staff.

College staff members are not responsible to provide care or food for any emotional support animal including, but not limited to, removing the animal during emergency evacuation for events such as a fire alarm. Emergency personnel will determine whether to remove the animal and may not be held responsible for the care, damage to, or loss of the animal.

While your animal is on campus you have the following responsibilities:

  1. Maintain all required vaccinations.
  2. Maintain control of the animal by leash, harness or tether, or properly contained in an appropriate container any time the animal is outside of your room.
  3. Ensure the animal is well cared for at all times.
  4. Emotional support animals may not be taken into study rooms, laundry facilities, dining halls or other buildings on campus.
  5. Work cooperatively with Residence Student Life Team members and student staff to resolve issues that might arise due to the presence of the animal, including those involving other residents.
  6. Live animals cannot be brought on campus to be fed to emotional support animals.
  7. Properly contain and dispose of all animal waste in appropriate outside trash containers.
  8. You are responsible if your animal attacks or harms another person.

Failure to follow these guidelines may result in the requirement of the removal of the animal from the residence hall and campus. An individual with a disability may be charged for any damage caused by his or her emotional support animal beyond reasonable wear and tear to the same extent that it charges other individuals for damages beyond reasonable wear and tear. If either of these events occurs, the person being charged may appeal the decision through the Student Life Office.

For more information about Emotional Support Animals, requirements, and responsibilities, please see Assistance Animal Policy and Procedures in Disabilities & Accessibility Services.