Emotional Support Animals at The College of St. Benedict

CSB Pet Policy

The only pets allowed in campus residence halls/apartments/houses are fish within a tank no larger than 10 gallons. However, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has established the need for housing providers to consider “Emotional Support Animals” (or ESAs), as an appropriate accommodation within one’s place of residence under the Fair Housing Act (FHA).

What is an ESA?

An ESA is not a pet. An emotional support animal is a companion animal that provides therapeutic benefit to an individual with a documented mental or psychiatric disability. The individual seeking to bring an ESA onto campus must have a verifiable disability, not simply a desire for companionship. The animal can serve as a “reasonable accommodation” for a person who meets the definition of a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Housing Act, and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The animal is determined to be needed in order to address specific functional limitations and allow the person to live independently. As this is an accommodation, students must participate in an interactive process to have an animal approved.

What type of animals may I have as an ESA?

Guidance published by HUD had described that animals commonly kept in households for pleasure may be approved as reasonable accommodations. A request is reasonable if the animal is a dog, cat, small bird, rabbit, hamster, gerbil, other rodent, fish, or turtle.

If the individual is requesting to keep a unique type of animal that is not commonly kept in households as described above, then the requestor has the substantial burden of demonstrating a disability-related therapeutic need for the specific animal or the specific type of animal.

What animals are not permitted?

For the health and safety of our committee, we will not accept requests for snakes, reptiles, ferrets, rodents, sugar gliders, or spiders since these animals cannot meet vaccination requirements to be certified disease-free. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicated that emotional support animals should be limited to those that cannot possibly transmit Zoonotic disease. Zoonotic diseases are infectious diseases that can be naturally transmitted from animals to humans.

Individuals approved for an ESA may only have one (1) animal. We will not accept requests for more than one ESA.

What happens to animals that have not been approved to live on campus?

Animals found to be living in a dwelling without approval will be removed immediately at the owner’s expense and the student may be subject to disciplinary action within the CSB Residential Life conduct process.

What documentation is required?

CSB/SJU Student Accessibility Services does not accept letters from the numerous online companies who (in exchange for a fee) purport to offer verification or certification of the need for an emotional support animal. To be considered for approval, a student should be prepared to submit appropriate medical documentation.

Our team has created a form to guide practitioners in describing how the functional limitations caused by the disability are mitigated by the animal.  While we may not ask for a specific diagnosis, we must have information that confirms the presence of a mental or psychiatric disability. Beyond that, we need to know the functional impact of the condition, as well as how the specific animal helps alleviate the impact of disability-related symptoms.

Deadlines: Accommodation requests must be made in a timely fashion. Students seeking to bring an ESA on campus should submit materials by the following dates:

  • For Fall Semester: August 1st
  • For Spring Semester: December 1st.

Student Accessibility Services will not review any ESA request within the two weeks before or after the start of the semester. Student Accessibility Services will consider requests from newly enrolled students and requests made by current students relating to a newly discovered diagnosis (or a significant change in status) on a case-by-case basis throughout the academic year. Be advised that such requests may take up to fifteen (15) business days.

Interactive Process:

CSB has a formal process, by which we work with students to determine ESA eligibility. We are available to help students work through the process of requesting an ESA. Be advised that an ESA may not reside on campus prior to completing the registration process or approval process. Students who have a documented mental or psychiatric disability, who wish to request an ESA, must take the following steps:       

  1. Online Form: Complete the Housing Accommodation Request Form
  2. Documentation - ESA Verification Form: We have designed a form that may be completed by our practitioner, the ESA Verification Form.

***Requests for ESAs will not be reviewed until both of the abovementioned steps are complete.