Emotional Assistance Animals

Emotional assistance animals can alleviate one or more identified symptoms or effect of an individual’s condition. The assistance performed by the animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability. Emotional assistance animals are different from service animals in that emotional assistance animals do not assist a person with a disability with daily living activities and do not accompany a person with a disability everywhere and at all times. An emotional assistance animal is not required to have special training, certification or be licensed as an emotional assistance animal.

In accordance with the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Student Accessibility Council at the College engages in an interactive and collaborative process with students in order to determine eligibility for reasonable accommodations, including the use of an emotional assistance animal. The Council will give priority consideration to the specific accommodations requested by a student, but cannot guarantee that a particular accommodation will be granted if the Council determines it is not reasonable or that other suitable methods are available.

Under the FHA, a person may keep an emotional assistance animal in their residence hall or campus residence as a reasonable accommodation if:

  1. The individual has a disability;
  2. The animal is necessary to afford the individual with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy campus housing; and
  3. There is an identifiable relationship between the disability and the assistance the animal provides.

Emotional assistance animals are allowed only in the residence hall, apartment or townhouse to which the individual with a disability is assigned by Residential Life. Emotional assistance animals are not allowed in other areas of the college such as the library, academic buildings, classrooms, dining areas, etc.  In making a decision whether to permit an emotional assistance animal, the Council shall inquire:

  1. About the nature or extent of a student’s disability that substantially limits a major life activity
  2. If the emotional assistance animal is necessary for the student to use or enjoy his or her residence;
  3. About the relationship between the student’s disability and the relief that the animal provides; and
  4. Require veterinary verification of routine care of the animal, including vaccines.

The College is not responsible for the care or supervision of an emotional assistance animal. The animal shall be solely under the control of its owner. An emotional assistance animal shall have a harness, leash, other tether, or cage unless either the individual is unable because of a disability to use a harness, leash, other tether, or cage, or the use of a harness, leash, other tether or cage would interfere with the animal’s safe, effective performance of assistance, in which case the animal must be otherwise under the individual’s control (e.g., voice control, signals or other effective means). A student with a disability may be asked to remove an emotional assistance animal from College housing if the animal is out of control and the individual does not take effective action to control it, poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others, causes substantial physical damage to the property of others, or poses an undue financial and administrative burden to the College. If the emotional assistance animal is properly relocated when requested, the student with a disability has the opportunity to use and enjoy campus housing without having the emotional assistance animal on the premises.

The College shall not charge a surcharge for the emotional assistance animal. However, since individuals would be charged for damages caused by a pet or otherwise, a student with a disability may also be charged for damage caused by the emotional assistance animal.

Procedure to Apply

  • Students requesting to have an emotional assistance animal in campus housing should apply using the Emotional Assistance Animal Request Form:
  • Students must provide documentation on official letterhead that is signed by a qualified and credentialed practitioner, usually a treating physician or mental health provider, who is not a family member of the student. Documentation must be dated within the last 12 months and include the following: A statement from an appropriate treating medical professional regarding the student’s disability or condition, the impact of the condition upon a major life activity, the necessity of the emotional assistance animal for the student to use or enjoy campus housing, and a statement regarding the relationship between the student’s disability and the relief the emotional assistance animal provides.
  • Once appropriate documentation is received, a professional staff member from the accommodations council will contact the student to discuss the request.
  • Students will also receive an e-mail notification from the accommodations council regarding the outcome of the request.
  • The accommodations council will notify the Department of Residential Life if the student is approved for this accommodation.
  • The Department of Residential Life will contact the student in order to complete an Emotional Assistance Animal Agreement, and request veterinary verification of routine care of the animal, including vaccines.
  • The Department of Residential Life will make a reasonable effort to notify neighboring residents of the Emotional Assistance Animal’s location.  The notice will only include that the Emotional Assistance Animal is an accommodation to a student with a disability.  No information will be shared about the disability.  All roommates or suitemates of the emotional assistance animal owner must acknowledge the Emotional Assistance Animal’s presence in writing to The Department of Residence Life.  If the neighboring residents have a safety concern or a medical condition(s) that could result in a negative impact from the animal, (such as allergies, asthma, respiratory illnesses), they should contact the Accommodations Coordinator.  Affected students may qualify for an accommodation while living close to the Emotional Assistance Animal.  The Department of Residence Life and Accommodation Services will work together to resolve conflicts surrounding the presence of an Emotional Assistance Animal.

Student Responsibilities

  • Students using or seeking to use an emotional assistance animal in a College residence hall or apartment are encouraged to contact the accommodations council prior to housing selection through the Department of Residential Life to discuss housing needs.
  • It is the student’s personal responsibility to immediately clean up or to solicit the proper assistance for cleaning up if their emotional assistance animal defecates, or becomes ill and either vomits and/or becomes incontinent.
  • Students should contact the Residence Life Department at 860-297-4281 to identify the appropriate dumpster to discard animal waste.
  • Students must complete the Emotional Assistance Animal Agreement with the Department of Residential Life.
  • Students are responsible for the procedures detailed in the Emotional Assistance Animal Agreement.
  • Students must submit requested information regarding their emotional assistance animal (e.g., veterinary verification of routine care) to the Department of Residential Life.

Any questions regarding this policy and procedure should be directed to Lori Clapis, Coordinator of Accommodation Resources at (860) 297-4025 or Lori.Clapis@trincoll.edu.