Averett University Emotional Support Animal Policy



“Disability” is defined as a physical or mental condition or impairment that is medically cognizable, diagnosable, and substantially limits one or more of a person’s major life activities. These limitations may include, but are not limited to: caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, working, and learning. A person is substantially limited in major life activities if the individual is unable to perform the activity, or is significantly restricted as to the manner in which he or she can perform that activity when compared to the average person.

Service Animal:

A “service animal” is a dog or miniature horse used as an accommodation who is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a qualifying disability, and the animal’s skills must be directly related to the individual’s disability. These tasks include but are not limited to: guiding individuals with impaired vision; alerting individuals who are hearing impaired to intruders or sound; providing minimal protection or rescue work; pulling a wheelchair; or fetching dropped items.

Emotional Support Animal:

An “emotional support animal” or “comfort animal” is an animal that is necessary to afford the person with a qualifying disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy Averett University housing. The emotional support animal may provide physical assistance, emotional support, calming, stability, and other kinds of assistance. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, emotional support animals do not perform tasks that would qualify them as service animals. Unlike a service animal, an emotional support animal does not assist a person with a disability with activities of daily living, nor does it accompany a person with a disability at all times.


A pet is an animal kept for ordinary use and companionship. A pet is not considered a service animal or an emotional support animal, and therefore, it is not covered by this policy. Pets are not permitted in any buildings on university property, with exception of fish (in a tank no more than 10 gallons).

Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Fair Housing Regulations:

HUD and Fair Housing regulations provide that emotional support/comfort animals be considered a reasonable accommodation for an individual with a qualifying disability in campus housing. Since HUD/Fair Housing regulations only apply to campus housing, the animal may not be allowed in common or public areas of the university.

Requirements for the University Community

Members of the University community are required to abide by the following practices:

  • Do not touch or pet an emotional support/comfort animal unless invited to do so.
  • Do not feed an emotional support/comfort animal.
  • Do not deliberately startle an emotional support/comfort animal.
  • Do not separate or attempt to separate an owner from his or her emotional support/comfort animal.
  • Do not inquire for details about a person’s disabilities. The nature of a person’s disability is a private matter.


Requesting Accommodations for an Emotional Support/Comfort Animal

A person desiring the assistance of an emotional support/comfort animal must first provide verification to the Director of Student Success that she or he has a qualifying disability and that the animal is needed for the use and enjoyment of AU housing. The person’s health care provider, who is familiar with the professional literature concerning the assistive and/or therapeutic benefits of assistance animals for people with disabilities, must submit a signed, legibly handwritten letter on professional letterhead, expressing the following:

  • The provider’s diagnosis of the person’s condition.
    • The prover should provide both a license number and a diagnostic code.
  • The provider’s opinion that the condition qualifies as a disability under federal law, including the major life activities which are substantially limited by the disability.
  • Any additional rationale or statement the University may reasonably need to understand the basis for the professional opinion.
  • The provider must give her/his professional opinion of how the person’s documented disability relates to the necessity of the animal’s presence in the campus living units.
  • The provider’s description of what functions(s) the animal will specifically provide.

Examples of a “health care provider” may be a therapist/counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist, primary care doctor, or nurse.

In addition to the above documentation from a health care provider, the person must provide the following documentation before being considered for the accommodation of an emotional support animal:

  • Completed Housing and Residence Life Accommodation Request Form by your Treating Physician or Counselor (5 visits or more)
  • Record of License & Registration in Danville, VA (for canines only)
  • Record of up-to-date vaccinations
  • Record of current veterinarian clean bill of health
    • The animal should be free from fleas, tics, salmonella, and other infectious threats, and the submitted veterinarian documentation should reflect this.
  • Signed statement of acknowledgement of the Emotional Support/Comfort Animal Policy
  • Completed form of identification of Emotional Support/Comfort Animal and Emergency Contact/Alternate Caregiver of Animal
  • The required documentation may be mailed, scanned/emailed, faxed, or delivered in person to the Director of Student Success.
  • (Please note that only one Emotional Support Animal may be requested per student.)

The Director of Student Success will review documentation, and if it is determined that a qualifying disability exists, the Director shall meet with the person requesting that emotional support animal. This policy will be carefully reviewed with the person at that time, and an interactive dialogue will take place to determine whether or not the animal is a reasonable accommodation, considering alternative accommodations and the impact of the animal in the Averett University housing program.

The Director of Student Success reserves the right to request additional clinical information from the professional who provided the initial letter of recommendation for the emotional support/comfort animal. If the accommodation of an emotional support/comfort animal cannot be granted, AU will make every reasonable effort to find ways to assist the student in her/his academic progress.

Important Notes:

  • Each request requires a minimum of 30 days advance notice to gather, review, and  verify  the necessary documentation  prior  to  making  a  determination  regarding  the  emotional  support  animal.
  • The required documentation may be mailed, scanned/emailed, faxed, or delivered in person to the Director of Student Success.
  • Information provided is confidential and will not be released to outside parties or agencies without the signed consent of the student.
  • As an institution, we consider a Treating Physician or Counselor to include at least 5 visits or more with that same licensed professional.
  • All documentation for the fall semester is due by August 1st and December 1st for the spring.

Animals in University Housing

Emotional support/comfort animals may not reside in Averett housing without expressed advance approval of the Director of Student Success and must abide by all housing policies. Each request requires a minimumof  30days  advance  notice  to gather, review and verify the necessary documentation  prior to making a determination regarding the emotional support animal.


Should the emotional support/comfort animal be removed from campus housing due to a violation of this or Averett housing policy, your privileges to obtain another emotional support animal may be relinquished. This will be determined by university housing or administrative officials.

A person requesting an emotional support animal must provide the Director of Student Success with appropriate documentation prior to moving into campus housing. Animals will not be allowed to reside in Averett housing if this condition of reasonable advance notice is not fulfilled in a timely manner. The necessary documentation is listed in the earlier part of the policy.

Care and Supervision

Care and supervision of the animal is the sole responsibility of the owner/individual who benefits from the animal’s use. The following are the requirements for the care and supervision for students who have been approved to have an emotional support animal:

  • The person is required to maintain control of the animal at all times.
  • The person is also responsible for ensuring the clean-up of the animal’s waste.
  • The animal must not be left alone overnight or for extended periods of time.
  • The animal must not be left outside unattended in student’s dwelling or campus buildings.
  • Caged animals are to be kept in appropriate cages with flooring and liner to prevent any damage to living quarters, and to easily allow removal of waste.
  • Leash: The animal must be on a leash, harness, or other tether at all times, unless the individual is unable to use one of those because of the disability. If this is the case, the animal still has to be under an alternative form of control (e.g., voice control or signals).
  • Keepingtheanimalwell-groomedandfreefromticsandfleasatall
  • Designatingalocal alternativecaregiverfortheanimalwhenthehandlermaybeunableto do
  • Identifyingalocalveterinariantoprovidetreatmentfortheanimalwhen
  • Immediate clean-up and proper disposal of all animal waste in the designated areas. Students cancontactthe Office of Housing and Residence Life for designated areas.
  • Ensure that the animal behaves appropriately at all times and adheres to the same socially accepted standards as any individual in the university community. Unacceptable behaviorsituationsmayinclude,butarenotlimitedtothefollowing: excessivebarking,meowing,orother Unpleasantodors or significantshedding

The living spaces of students who have a service animal or an emotional support animal may be inspected for cleanliness and adheres to all published policies. Inspections may be performed by the Director of Housing or an assigned designee.

Exceptions and Exclusions

Averett University may pose restrictions on and may even exclude a service or emotional support animal in certain instances. Restrictions or exclusions will be considered on a case-by-case basis in accordance with applicable laws and published policies.

A service or emotional support animal may be excluded from campus if:

  • It poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others that cannot be reduced or eliminated by reasonable modifications.
  • It is out of control or is disruptive and the animal’s handler does not take effective action to control it.
  • It is not housebroken.
  • Its presence alters the nature of the programs, services, or activities.

Student Success, with consultation from other Averett University departments (i.e., Housing and Residence Life), is responsible for the verification of and making decisions about the exclusion of any service or emotional support animal. The exclusion procedure will include an individualized assessment of all relevant facts and evidence in support of the exclusion. Handlers will have an opportunity to resolve the issues that would warrant the exclusion prior to final decisions about the exclusion.

If an exclusion decision is verified and determined to be fair and reasonable, the handler will have 48 hours to remove the service animal or emotional support animal from campus.

Student Resources

All students seeking to submit documentation for an emotional support animal are encouraged to be knowledgeable of their rights, as well as the university’s rights and responsibilities.

Students are encouraged to read the following:

  •  HUD document on emotional support animals in housing.
  •  Document from the ADA National Network which explains the differences between service animals and emotional support animals.
  •  DOJ FAQ on service animals.

If you believe you are being discriminated against, or you were denied an emotional support animal and you believe you were unjustly denied, you can receive guidance through the Office for Civil Rights.

Students are encouraged to connect with the following material: