Housing Accommodation Info—Emotional Support Animals


Emotional Support Animal (“ESA”): Indoor-appropriate animal which is not individually trained to meet a student’s specific disability need, but provides psychological, mental or emotional support or comfort to the student. An ESA is NOT a working “Service Animal,” which is a working dog “individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability.”

It is the general policy of Emmanuel College that pets are NOT allowed in campus buildings or in housing facilities. This general policy is known, and shall be referred to here as the “no pets rule.”

However, Emmanuel will, in select, appropriate cases, at the request of a student with a documented disability who meets the noted eligibility criteria through submission of required documentation and in accordance with the noted established procedures, make a partial exception to the “no pets rule” in the student’s residence only, as a reasonable accommodation for a student with a documented disability. Such an accommodation would allow the specific student to keep an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) with them in his/her dormitory room if the documentation demonstrated that the accommodation is necessary for the student to have equal access to and use of Emmanuel’s housing.

Certain animals will be excluded from the ESA accommodations. These shall be referred to in this policy as “excluded animals.” Animals that are inherently dangerous or predatory (such as certain snakes, pythons, birds, etc.), large animals (over 30 lbs.), and wildlife or endangered species (such as, but not limited to, ferrets, etc.) will generally be excluded but the exclusion determination will be made by the housing committee on a case-by-case basis.

If this reasonable accommodation is granted, the student will be required to strictly follow the rules pertaining to animal control and student responsibility, noted within the Owner’s Responsibilities contract.

At least annually, or upon request, the student will register the animal with Residence Life and will provide veterinary evidence that the animal is healthy and appropriately vaccinated according to Massachusetts law.


In order to be eligible to request an ESA as a housing accommodation, the student must demonstrate all of the following:

  • That the student has a documented disability;
  • That the exception to the no pets rule is a reasonable accommodation and necessary to afford the student an equal opportunity to use and enjoy Emmanuel housing;
  • That there is an identifiable relationship, or nexus, between the accommodation and the student’s documented disability;
  • That the ESA is not an excluded animal.

Guidance Regarding Application of the Policy:

In applying the above eligibility criteria, Emmanuel will be guided by the following “interpretive principles, rules, and factors”:

  • The student will have the burden of demonstrating, through documented health care provider opinion, testimony and other evidence, that the student would not be able to use and enjoy Emmanuel housing facilities “but for” the requested accommodation (having the ESA in the dorm room).
  • The student will have the burden of demonstrating, through documented health care provider opinion, testimony and other evidence, that the animal is both necessary and reasonable for equal enjoyment and use of Emmanuel housing.
  • The student must also demonstrate that NO other means and methods (ie. medication, counseling, other housing accommodations, other available interventions, crisis response mechanisms or treatments), or combination of means and methods are available to adequately manage or ameliorate the symptoms of his/her disability in the housing context. If such other means and methods, or combination of means and methods, ARE available to the student to adequately manage or ameliorate the symptoms of the student’s disability to a degree that the student, with the aid of those other means and methods, WOULD be able to use and enjoy Emmanuel housing, then this accommodation would not be granted.
  • The medical or psychological documentation presented must be from licensed providers that are NOT family members nor employed by Emmanuel College.

Note: These eligibility criteria are based primarily on the relevant provisions of the Fair Housing Act (FHA), 42 U.S.C. 3604(f), and regulatory guidance provided by the US Department of Housing and Development in its Final Rule entitled “Pet Ownership for the Elderly and Persons with Disabilities” published in the Federal register on October 27, 2008 (73 FR 63834).


If you believe you meet the criteria to request an ESA as a housing accommodation, please contact Alyson Czelusniak, Assistant Director of Disability Support Services (czelusniaka@emmanuel.edu) as early as possible and BEFORE the room assignment process begins.

You will be asked to follow the standard procedure for requesting housing accommodations (please see “How Do I Request Housing Accommodations?” on the Housing Accommodations main page).

Your disability documentation and submitted evidence must demonstrate that you meet the eligibility criteria listed above. Most crucially, you must demonstrate that one or more of your major life functions are significantly, amply or substantially limited in the residential environment, and that your requested ESA is necessary for you, or essential to your ability, to have an equal opportunity to use and enjoy Emmanuel housing. The documentation and other information submitted should also directly address the “interpretive principles, rules and factors” set forth in the “Guidance Regarding Application of the Policy” section above.

Specific Steps in the Process of Requesting an ESA:

  1. Contact Alyson Czelusniak, Assistant Director of Disability Support Services at czelusniaka@emmanuel.edu to express your interest in requesting this specific accommodation.
  2. Follow the standard procedure for requesting housing accommodations (be currently registered with Disability Support Services, complete and submit the Student Request for Housing Accommodations form, have a health care provider complete and submit the Health Care Provider Request for Housing Accommodations). The documentation submitted must substantiate the disability and the specific impact it has on your ability to live in Emmanuel housing.
  3. Please complete the Animal Information Form which, if approved, will later serve as registration information, and that demonstrates veterinary evidence of proper vaccinations and reasonable health.
  4. Once all components of the request packet (registration with DSS, Student Request form, Health Care Provider form and Animal Information form) have been received, the Housing Committee will review your request. They will determine whether there is sufficient evidence to warrant the ESA as a reasonable housing accommodation. You will be informed by Residence Life of the committee’s decision.
  5. If there is sufficient evidence, Residence Life will recommend a housing assignment location.
  6. Upon assignment, you are expected to comply with all Residence life requirements and behavior code policies regarding noise, cleanliness and conduct. Students are solely responsible for their animal’s behavior. You will be required to sign the Owner’s Responsibility contract and meet with Residence Life staff to review expectations and answer any questions you may have.

Policy Regarding Responsibility for ESAs in Emmanuel Housing Facilities:

The following policies are pertinent to an ESA approved as a reasonable accommodation for a student with a documented disability in Emmanuel housing:

  • The approved ESA is allowed to reside with the student in their residence hall and is allowed to be taken outdoors anywhere on campus grounds where students are allowed to go.
  • The ESA is NOT allowed in any academic buildings, administrative buildings, athletic facilities or laboratory settings.
  • Emmanuel is not responsible for the care or supervision on the ESA.
  • The student is responsible for the cost, care and supervision of the ESA, including:
    • Compliance with any laws pertaining to animal licensing, vaccination and owner identification;
    • Keeping the animal under control and taking effective action when it is out of control;
    • Feeding, walking and disposing of waste;
    • Waste disposal via Emmanuel plumbing or indoor trash containers is prohibited. Waste must be picked up, bagged and placed in an outside trash container.
  • The student will be charged for damage caused by an ESA to the same extent that a student would normally be charged for damage caused to Emmanuel property.
  • The student must comply with all college rules regarding noise, safety, disruption and cleanliness.
  • In all cases, the student will agree to hold harmless Emmanuel College for any damage or any injury to others caused by the ESA.
  • If necessary, the removal of any ESA, with any necessary cleaning, repairs and/or pest control will be done at the expense of the student.
  • The student will be permitted to have no more than one animal due to the confined residential living space.
  • The ESA must be housebroken (i.e. trained so that it controls its waste elimination, absent illness or accident).
  • The ESA must be kept under control by a leash, harness, cage or other tether when leaving the dorm room.
  • The above policies will be strictly enforced; violations are subject to the Emmanuel College Student Conduct process.