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Animals on campus (STudents)

As reflected in institutional policy, dogs and other pets (except service animals and approved emotional support animals) are not permitted in Institution buildings or on Institution property. 

We recognize that having a service animal on campus or an ESA in the residence hall can be a real benefit for someone with a significant disability.  The practical limitations of our campus and housing arrangements make it necessary to carefully consider the impact of the request for an animal on campus on both the student and the campus community.

Students who have service animals or emotional support animals should adhere to the following procedures regarding having their animals on campus.

All students requesting accommodations are required to participate in an interactive process through the Student Accessibility Resources office.  The process includes submitting a request for accommodations form, participating in an access consultation and submitting appropriate documentation.  Together, the information gathered through these steps will be utilized to determine which accommodations for which you will be eligible at WVSU.

Some important considerations and information:

  • Emotional support animals are considered under the Fair Housing Act (FHA).  The FHA indicates a person may keep an assistance animal in his/her residence hall or campus apartment as a reasonable accommodation if:

    • The individual has a disability;

    • The animal is necessary to afford the individual with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy campus housing; and 

    • There is an identifiable relationship between the disability and the assistance the animal provides.

  • When approved, emotional assistance animals are primarily allowed in the residence hall room or campus apartment for which the individual with a disability is assigned by the Office of Housing and Residence Life.
  • ​The process has two stages: a determination if the ESA is necessary based on the documentation AND a determination if it is reasonable to be implemented by the Office of Housing and Residence Life.
  • It is important to remain in contact with the ​Program Coordinator with Disability and Accessibility Resources who will assist you through the process outlined below. 

  • Monitor your WVSU email account for updates regarding your request which will be sent from
  • It can take several weeks or more to complete all the steps.  This is partially dependent on your mental healthcare provider's speed of response as well as the quality and depth of the documentation submitted.
  • ​The process must be completed prior the housing deadline for the given semester.​
When you are ready to begin the request process, complete the steps outlined below:
STEP 1 - Submit Request for Accommodations Form
  • The preferred method is the online form (see link below).  A printed copy is available upon request.
  • For assistance completing the form, you may request this by email, text, phone or in-person at 117 Sullivan Hall East


STEP 2 - Submit Documentation

  • Documentation must be from a psychiatrist, psychologist, counselor or other licensed provider of mental health services. 

  • It must include sufficient detail to make it clear you are an individual with a disability as well as a clear connection between your disability and why the ESA is required in order for you to use and enjoy university housing

  • You are highly encouraged to utilize the Disability Verification Form to obtain the documentation for this request as it allows your mental health provider to thoroughly explain why an emotional support animal is required for you to reside in and enjoy the residence hall.

  • Your mental health provider may utilize their own format as long as answers to the questions from the verification form are included.

    • NOTE - the link for the form is restricted to users in WVSU, to access the documentation form links you must be signed in and utilize your WVSU email address

  • You will need to sign on page 1 to provide consent before forwarding to your provider.

  • Once completed, you or the provider can submit the PDF form using the link below.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to the Senior Program Coordinator for Disability and Accessibility Resources.

Service Animal

Per the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA), “service animal means any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.” In addition to the provisions about service dogs, the Department’s ADA regulations have a separate provision about miniature horses that have been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. The ADA goes on to say “Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition.  The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability.”

Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties.

Service Animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a Service Animal has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability.

Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as Service Animals.

Emotional Support Animal (ESA)

“Emotional Support Animals are animals that provide emotional support which alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person's disability.

Some, but not all, animals that assist persons with disabilities are professionally trained. Other ESA’s are trained by the owners. In some cases, no special training is required. The question is whether or not the animal performs the assistance or provides the benefit needed as a reasonable accommodation by the person with the disability. Unlike a Service Animal, an ESA does not actively assist a person with a disability with activities of daily living, nor does it accompany a person with a disability at all times.

ESA’s may be considered for access to university housing, however, they are not generally permitted in other areas of the university (e.g. libraries, academic buildings, classrooms, labs, student center, etc.).
Service animals are the only animal which may accompany a person with a disability practically anywhere on campus that other students and the general public are allowed. Service animals are welcome in buildings on campus and may attend classes, meetings, or other events.  If there are any questions as to whether an animal qualifies as a service animal, a determination can be made by the Program Coordinator/ADA-504 Coordinator with Disability and Accessibility Resources.

If it is readily evident an animal is providing a service related to a disability such as a dog who guides a person with visual impairments, no further inquiry is allowed.  There currently are no certifications or identification methods, such as vests or ID cards, required or recognized under the laws for service animals.  Conversely, if an animal is observed to be wearing a vest or other identification method indicating they are service animal, this is not in and of itself sufficient to determine they are a service animal. In cases where it is not readily evident, the procedure that follows should be utilized.

Allergies and fear of dogs are not solely sufficient as reasons for denying access or refusing service to people using service animals. When a valid reason does exist to consider exclusion of the service animal, the university must consider the situation carefully to determine when the animal may be excluded.

A person with a disability cannot be asked to remove his service animal from the premises unless:

(1) the dog is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it or
(2) the dog is not housebroken.

When there is a legitimate reason to ask that a service animal be removed, staff must offer the person with the disability the opportunity to participate or obtain goods/services without the animal’s presence.
As a best practice, WVSU will use the following process to help us determine if an animal is a service animal under the ADA:
  1. Is the animal a dog or a miniature horse?
  • If “yes,” proceed to the next question.
  • If “no,” the animal is not a service animal but may be another type of assistance animal for which a reasonable accommodation is needed.  Proceed to Animals in Residence Hall, Part II below.
  1. Is it readily apparent* that the animal is trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability?​
  • If “yes,” further inquiries are unnecessary and inappropriate because the animal is a service animal.
  • If “no,” proceed to the next question.
       *It is readily apparent when the animal is observed:
  • guiding an individual who is blind or has low vision
  • pulling a wheelchair
  • providing assistance with stability or balance to an individual with an observable mobility disability.
  1. If it is not readily apparent the animal is trained, WVSU should limit its inquiries to the following two questions:
  • WVSU may ask in substance:
    • (1) “Is the animal required because of a disability?” and
    • (2) “What work or task has the animal been trained to perform?”
No employee of WVSU, including the Program Coordinator/ADA-504 coordinator, may ask about the nature or extent of the person’s disability, may not ask for documentation, nor ask that the animal perform the task identified.
  • If the answer to question (1) is “yes” and work or a task is identified in response to question (2), the animal qualifies as a service animal. 
  • If the answer to either question is “no,” “none,” or is unclear, the animal does not qualify as a service animal under federal law but may be a support animal or other type of assistance animal that needs to be accommodated.  Guidance for this process is included in the section regarding animals in residence halls.
Performing “work or tasks” means that the animal is trained to take a specific action when needed to assist the person with a disability.
  • If the individual clearly identifies at least one action the animal is trained to take which is helpful to the disability other than emotional support, the animal should be considered a service animal and permitted on campus including in housing, public and common use areas.  WVSU should not make further inquiries. 
  • If no specific work or task is identified, the animal should not be considered a service animal but may be another type of animal for which a reasonable accommodation may be required.  Emotional support, comfort, well-being, and companionship are not a specific work or task for purposes of analysis under the ADA and/or Section 504.
  1. Considering special circumstances when a service animal may be excluded from certain spaces/locations on campus.
The ADA does not require the institution to modify policies, practices, or procedures if it would –
  • fundamentally alter the nature of the goods, services, programs, or activities provided. 
  • would pose a direct threat to health and safety of others
  • overrule legitimate safety requirements 
If admitting service animals would fundamentally alter the nature of a service or program, pose a direct threat or present a legitimate safety concern, service animals may be prohibited.  In addition, if a particular service animal is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it, or if it is not housebroken, that animal may be excluded.
  • In most settings, the presence of a service animal will not result in a fundamental alteration.  However, there are some exceptions.  If the animal’s presence interferes with the experiment which would make the lesson and/or research impossible to conduct. For example, if the lab is a sterile environment or houses hazardous pathogens, the animal may be excluded.
  • A decision to exclude a service animal cannot be based on the notion that an animal might threaten the safety of others. It also cannot be based on assumptions or bad experiences with other animals.  Each service animal must be considered individually and each situation or location requires a Direct Threat or Needs Assessment.
  • When a person who is allergic to pet dander or has a fear of the animal and a person who uses a service animal must spend time in the same room or facility, for example, in a classroom or a dorm room/suite, they both should be accommodated.  The Accessibility Specialist will be involved in the cases in which both parties are students.  If one party is a student and the other is faculty or staff, both the Accessibility Specialist and the ADA Coordinator will be involved in determining how best to accommodate the parties.  This may include assigning the parties, if possible, to different locations within the room or different rooms in the facility.

Requirements of service animals and their handlers/owners
  • In accordance with local law, dogs should be licensed (through Kanawha County) and wear a current vaccination tag.
  • Animals should be in good health.
  • The owner must be in full control of the animal at all times.
Reasonable behavior is expected from service animals while on campus. The owners of disruptive and aggressive service animals may be asked to remove them from university facilities. If the improper behavior happens repeatedly, the owner may be told not to bring the service animal into any facility until they take significant steps to mitigate the behavior. Cleanliness of the service animal is mandatory. Consideration of others must be taken into account when providing maintenance and hygiene of service animals. The owner is expected to clean and dispose of all animal
Q. What does "do work or perform tasks" mean?
A. The dog/miniature horse must be trained to take a specific action when needed to assist the person with a disability. The mere presence of an animal providing comfort to someone would not be considered a service animal under the ADA.  Service animal examples would include, a person with diabetes may have a dog that is trained to alert him when his blood sugar reaches high or low levels. A person with depression may have a dog that is trained to remind her to take her medication. Or, a person who has epilepsy may have a dog that is trained to detect the onset of a seizure and then help the person remain safe during the seizure.
Q. Who is responsible for the care and supervision of a service animal?
A. The handler is responsible for caring for and supervising the service animal, which includes toileting, feeding, and grooming and veterinary care. Covered entities are not obligated to supervise or otherwise care for a service animal.
The Fair Housing Act as amended in 1988 requires housing providers, such as WVSU, to modify or make exceptions to policies governing animals when it may be necessary to permit persons with disabilities to utilize animals. Because HUD interprets the FHA to require access for individuals who use service animals, our Institution will initially follow the analysis that DOJ has determined is used for assessing whether an animal is a service animal under the ADA. The Department of Justice’s ADA regulations generally require state and local governments entities and public accommodations to permit the use of service animals by an individual with a disability. For support animals and other assistance animals that may be necessary in housing, although the ADA does not provide for access, housing providers must comply with the FHA, which does provide for access. 

Additionally, as WVSU is subject to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Office of Civil Rights at the US Department of Education has indicated that such requests also should be considered through the interactive process outlined in the regulations. While Section 504 does not speak to animals - instead it addresses discrimination – it would require consideration of a modification to policy or procedure (such as a no-pet policy), if without the modification the person was denied access.  The burden of proof is on the student to prove how a no pet policy denied them access. 

Overall questions to be considered – Is the animal a service animal?  If not, how is the requested accommodation of an animal in the residence hall reasonable and necessary to afford the student to have an equal opportunity to use and enjoy student housing at WVSU?

With regards to emotional support animals, the accommodations must be reasonable and HUD does not require the Institution to permit animals that:
  • pose a direct threat to the health and safety of others (that cannot be reduced or eliminated by another reasonable accommodation);
  • would cause substantial physical damage to the property of others (including campus housing);
  • would pose an undue financial and administrative burden on the University; or
  • would fundamentally alter the nature of the University’s operations.
Approved assistance animals are allowed in the residence hall or campus apartment for which the individual with a disability is assigned by the Office of Housing and Residence Life. An individual with a disability may be asked to remove an assistance animal from campus 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 (that cannot be reduced or eliminated by another reasonable accommodation),
  • causes substantial physical damage to the property of others (including University housing), or
  • poses an undue financial and administrative burden to the University.
SAR and Housing/Residence Life may place reasonable conditions or restrictions on approved animals, depending on the nature and characteristics of the animal.  This will be determined on a case-by-case basis using an interactive process involving the student and staff of the aforementioned offices.

If the accommodation is denied and the assistance animal is properly excluded when requested, the individual with a disability has the opportunity to use and enjoy campus housing without having the assistance animal on the premises. 

An assistance animal is not required to have special training, certification or be licensed as an assistance animal; however the animal shall be under the control of the individual. An assistance animal shall have a harness, leash, other tether, or cage (restraining device) unless either the individual is unable because of a disability to use a restraining device, or the use of a restraining device 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). 

The University is not responsible for the care or supervision of an assistance animal. 

The University may ask about:
  • the nature or extent of a person’s disability that substantially limits a major life activity,
  • how the assistance animal is necessary for the student to use or enjoy his/her residence, and
  • the relationship between the student’s disability and the relief that the animal provides.
The University may request veterinary verification of routine care of the animal, including vaccines.

The University will not charge the individual with a disability a surcharge, even if people accompanied by pets are required to pay fees. If the University normally charges individuals for damages caused by a pet, an individual with a disability may also be charged for damage caused by the assistance animal particular accommodation must be granted if it is deemed not reasonable or other suitable methods are available.

What is a service animal?

The university will utilize the previous method outlined under service animals to determine if the animal meets the criteria to be considered as such.  If not, the procedure outlined starting in Part II will be initiated. 
  1. Has the individual requested a reasonable accommodation —that is, asked to get or keep an animal in connection with a physical or mental impairment or disability?
Note:  The initial request for a reasonable accommodation with respect to an emotional support animal may be oral or written.  To proceed through the interactive process, the student will need to submit the Request for Access/Accommodation form.
  • If “yes,” proceed to Part III.
  • If “no,” WVSU is not required to grant a reasonable accommodation that has not been requested. 
2) Does the person have an observable disability or does WVSU already have information giving us reason to believe that the person has a disability?    

Note:  Observable and Non-Observable Disabilities

Under the FHA and section 504, a disability is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.  While some impairments may seem invisible, others can be readily observed.  Observable impairments include blindness or low vision, deafness or being hard of hearing, mobility limitations, and other types of impairments with observable symptoms or effects, such as intellectual impairments (including some types of autism), neurological impairments (e.g., stroke, Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, or brain injury), mental illness, or other diseases or conditions that affect major life activities or bodily functions. Observable impairments generally tend to be obvious and would not be reasonably attributable to non-medical causes by a lay person.

Certain impairments, however, especially including impairments that may form the basis for a request for an emotional support animal, may not be observable. In those instances, WVSU may request information regarding both the disability and the disability-related need for the animal.
  • If “yes,” skip to question #4 to determine if there is a connection between the person’s disability and the animal.
  • If “no,” continue to the next question.
3) Has the person requesting the accommodation provided information that reasonably supports that the person seeking the accommodation has a disability?
  • If “yes,” proceed to question #7.  WVSU, at its discretion, may make the truth and accuracy of information provided during the process part of the representations made by the student tenant under a lease or similar housing agreement to the extent that the lease or agreement requires the truth and accuracy of other material information.
  • If “no,” WVSU is not required to grant the accommodation unless this information is provided but may not deny the accommodation on the grounds that the person requesting the accommodation has not provided this information until the requester has been provided a reasonable opportunity to do so. To assist the person requesting the accommodation to understand what information WVSU is seeking, WVSU provides a disability verification form with questions specific to an ESA.
Disability Determination

Note that under DOJ’s regulations implementing the ADA Amendments Act of 2008, which HUD also considers instructive when determining whether a person has a disability under the FHA, some types of impairments will, in virtually all cases, be found to impose a substantial limitation on a major life activity resulting in a determination of a disability. Examples include deafness, blindness, intellectual disabilities, partially or completely missing limbs or mobility impairments requiring the use of a wheelchair, autism, cancer, cerebral palsy, diabetes, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection, major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, obsessive compulsive disorder, and schizophrenia. This does not mean that other conditions are not disabilities. It simply means that in virtually all cases these conditions will be covered as disabilities.

4) Has the person requesting the accommodation provided information which reasonably supports that the animal does work, performs tasks, provides assistance, and/or provides therapeutic emotional support with respect to the individual’s disability?
  • If “yes,” proceed to Part IV.  WVSU, at its discretion, may make the truth and accuracy of information provided during the process part of the representations made by the tenant under a lease or similar housing agreement to the extent that the lease or agreement requires the truth and accuracy of other material information.
  • If “no,” WVSU is not required to grant the accommodation unless this information is provided but may not deny the accommodation on the grounds that the person requesting the accommodation has not provided this information until the requester has been provided a reasonable opportunity to do so.  To assist the person requesting the accommodation to understand what information WVSU is seeking, the requester should reference the Disability Verification Form for ESA’s to ensure WVSU receives the disability-related information that is actually needed to make a reasonable accommodation decision.

Documentation Sources
In the WVSU interactive process, the student is the primary, but not the only, source of documentation.  As such, the student will be a significant source of information when considering if their request is necessary and reasonable. The following are assessed and related questions will be utilized by the Program Coordinator with Disablity and Accessibility Resources to guide the individualized assessment:
  1. Nature and Degree of Impairment - Does the student have a disability (an impairment that substantially limits major life activities)?
  2. Substantial Limitations - How is the student substantially limited? (how do the symptoms of the disability substantially limit a major life activity)?
  • Barriers - What barrier will/is the student experiencing that would make it difficult for them to live in the dorm and how is the barrier related to the student’s disability?
  • Effect of ESA on Impairment and Barriers – What has been the student’s experience with pets (dog or cat, etc.) in the past? Why does the student believe the ESA is a good idea? Is there anything specific that the animal does to help the student? What symptoms does the student anticipate or knows having an ESA will help control?  How will/does the presence of the ESA mitigate or address that barrier?
  • Past History - Has the student lived in a communal residence such as dorm previously? If yes, how does the student describe the experience?  Did they have an ESA in that setting?  Why/Why not? If not, what has changed since the previous experience?
  1. Responsibilities - What challenges does the student anticipate having in caring for an ESA on campus and how do they plan to address them?
  • Outside documentation from a professional whose scope of practice allows them to diagnose and treat mental health disorders.  The Disability Verification Form has been developed in order to assist providers in providing the degree of information needed.  There needs to be a clear connection between references to the animal assisting with relief and the symptoms related to the disability.  The provider need not use the specific form, but all the information requested is necessary for the institution to have in order to consider the request for an ESA; the form is provided as a convenience.  Generally, the institution will accept documentation from providers in the State of West Virginia or the student’s home state who have personal knowledge of the student, consistent with their professional obligations.

Documentation from the Internet
Some websites sell certificates, registrations, and licensing documents for assistance animals to anyone who answers certain questions or participates in a short interview and pays a fee.  Under the Fair Housing Act, WVSU may request reliable documentation and the documentation from the internet is not, by itself, sufficient to reliably establish that an individual has a non-observable disability or disability-related need for an assistance animal.  Letters purchased from the internet for a set price rarely provide the information necessary to support an ESA request.

By contrast, there are legitimate, licensed health care professionals who deliver services remotely via telehealth services, including over the internet.  Reliable documentation can include that from a person’s health care professional that confirms a person’s disability and/or need for an animal when the provider has personal knowledge of the individual. 

NOTE: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been asked to investigate websites that purport to provide documentation from a health care provider in support of requests for an ESA.  The websites in question offer for sale documentation that is not reliable for purposes of determining whether an individual has a disability or disability-related need for an ESA because the website operators and health care professionals who consult with them lack the personal knowledge that is necessary to make such determinations.  An unofficial list of questionable providers is maintained by Laurel Overby at Texas Christian University and is available online at -

Additional information about the ESA determination process (including the questions on which the disability verification form is based) is available from Jane Jarrow with Disability Access Information and Support –  

Information regarding the WVSU Disability Verification Form
The areas included on the verification form include:
  1. Nature of Professional Relationship - the type of professional relationship, ongoing treatment, number of sessions and first and last meeting dates
  2. Nature and Degree of Impairment - The nature of the student’s impairment and the degree to which the impairment impacts functioning
  3. Substantial Limitations - What major life activities is the student substantially limited and how they will present as difficulties in the residential life environments of the university
  4. Prescription - If the animal was specifically prescribed as part of treatment (and why) or a pet that will have a beneficial effect
  5. Impact of ESA - The ways in which the animal will help the student – which symptoms are mitigated by the presence of the ESA and if there is clear evidence that an ESA has helped this student with the impairments impact, currently or in past
  6. Well-being and Consequences - How the ESA will contribute to the student’s well-being and how important is it to have the ESA in the residence on campus including the consequences in relation to the impairment if the accommodation is not improved
  7. Responsibilities - If the student shared the rules and restrictions for having an animal in university housing with the professional as well as if the professional discussed with the student the responsibilities associated with properly caring for an animal while engaged in typical college activities and residing in campus housing and if those duties would exacerbate the symptoms.
Information Confirming Disability-Related Need for an Assistance Animal. . .
  • Reasonably supporting information often consists of information from a licensed health care professional –e.g., physician, optometrist, psychiatrist, psychologist, physician’s assistant, nurse practitioner, or nurse – general to the condition but specific as to the individual with a disability and the assistance or therapeutic emotional support provided by the animal.
  • The documentation must make it clear there is a logical nexus - relationship or connection – between the disability and the need for the assistance animal.  This is particularly the case where the disability is non-observable, and/or the animal provides therapeutic emotional support. 
  • For non-observable disabilities and animals that provide therapeutic emotional support, WVSU may ask for additional information in order to conduct an individualized assessment of whether it must provide the accommodation under the Fair Housing Act or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.  The lack of such documentation may be reasonable grounds for denying the requested accommodation. 
5) Is the animal commonly kept in households?     
  • If “yes,” the type of animal could be a reasonable accommodation under the FHA unless the general exceptions described below exist.
  • If “no,” a reasonable accommodation need not be provided, but note the very rare circumstances described below.
Animals commonly kept in households. If the animal is a dog, cat, small bird, rabbit, hamster, gerbil, other rodent, fish, turtle, or other small, domesticated animal that is traditionally kept in the home for pleasure rather than for commercial purposes, then the reasonable accommodation should be granted because the requestor has provided information confirming that there is a disability-related need for the animal. For purposes of this assessment, reptiles (other than turtles), barnyard animals, monkeys, kangaroos, and other non-domesticated animals are not considered common household animals.

Unique Animals and Circumstances
Unique animals.  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.  The individual is encouraged to submit documentation from a health care professional confirming the need for this animal.  The lack of such documentation in many cases may be reasonable grounds for denying a requested accommodation. 

If WVSU enforces a “no pets” policy or a policy prohibiting the type of animal the individual seeks to have, WVSU may take reasonable steps to enforce the policy if the requester obtains the animal before submitting reliable documentation from a health care provider that reasonably supports the requestor’s disability-related need for the animal. 

Reasonable accommodations may be necessary when the need for a unique animal involves unique circumstances ...

  • The animal is individually trained to do work or perform tasks that cannot be performed by a dog.
  • Information from a health care professional confirms that:
    • Allergies prevent the person from using a dog; or
    • Without the animal, the symptoms or effects of the person’s disability will be significantly increased.
  • The individual seeks to keep the animal outdoors at a house with a fenced yard where the animal can be appropriately maintained.
Example: A Unique Type of Support Animal

An individually trained capuchin monkey performs tasks for a person with paralysis caused by a spinal cord injury.  The monkey has been trained to retrieve a bottle of water from the refrigerator, unscrew the cap, insert a straw, and place the bottle in a holder so the individual can get a drink of water.  The monkey is also trained to switch lights on and off and retrieve requested items from inside cabinets.  The individual has a disability-related need for this specific type of animal because the monkey can use its hands to perform manual tasks that a service dog cannot perform.
Once the student has met with the staff with Student Accessibility Resources for the intake/access consultation and submitted appropriate documentation, an initial determination will be made regarding further consideration of the ESA.  This determination will include if the student has a disability with substantial limitations for which having an ESA may be of assistance.  If deemed for further consideration, the request will be referred for consultation with the Special Housing Committee for a determination on a case-by-case basis of whether the presence of the requested ESA is reasonable. A request for an ESA may be denied as unreasonable if the presence of the animal: (1) imposes an undue financial and/or administrative burden; (2) fundamentally alters university housing policies; and/or (3) poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others or would cause substantial property damage to the property of others, including university property.

WVSU will consider the following factors, among others, in determining whether the presence of the animal is reasonable or in the making of housing assignments for individuals with an ESA. WVSU will consider whether:
  1. Undue Financial and/or Administrative Burdens
    1. The animal's presence would interfere with another individual’s use and enjoyment of housing
      1. The animal's presence otherwise violates other individuals' right to peace and quiet;
      2. The animal’s presence would force another individual from individual housing such as for serious allergies or intense fear;
  2. Fundamental Alteration of University Housing Policies
    1. The size of the animal and/or it's containment system is too large for available assigned housing space
    2. The animal would make physical modification of the dwelling unit necessary or require WVSU Housing to provide services that are not part of its usual services in order to accommodate it.
  3. Poses a Direct Threat
    1. The animal is not housebroken or is unable to live with others in a reasonable manner;
    2. The animal poses or has posed in the past a direct threat to the individual or others such as aggressive behavior towards or injuring the individual or others
    3. The animal causes or has caused excessive damage to a leased space beyond reasonable wear and tear.
WVSU will not limit room assignments for individuals with ESA to any particular building or buildings. However, University housing is unique in several aspects including the assignment of roommates for individuals and the mandate that individuals must share a room or suite in certain residence hall types. To ensure that the presence of an ESA is not an undue administrative burden or fundamental alteration of University housing, WVSU reserves the right to assign a single occupancy room and/or relocate an individual with an ESA when necessary.
Once the Special Housing Committee determines the accommodation request is reasonable and is approved, the following will occur:
  • The Program Coordinator with Disablity and Accessibility Resources will notify the student the request has been approved.
  • The Residence Life staff will notify the student’s roommate(s) or suitemate(s) (if applicable) for their acknowledgement of the presence of an animal housed in their living environment.
  • Residence Life staff will work with the student in order to complete all further necessary forms.  
The animal may not reside in campus housing until the following forms have been completed and submitted:
  1. Owner’s Responsibilities for Emotional Support Animal (ESA) agreement form
  2. Emotional Support Animal Registration Form
  3. Required veterinary records
  4. Roommate/Suitemate Acknowledgement Form (if applicable).
Should there be conflicting considerations between the student approved for an emotional support animal and the needs of roommate(s) or apartment mate(s) such as health/allergy conditions or fear of the animal, the University will engage with all parties involved.  The Program Coordinator will conduct an interactive process with the student who has health/allergy conditions or fear of animals that rise to the level of a disability.  For those who do not meet this threshold, the Director of Residence Life and any administrators in the affected area will be involved.  In either case, the university will come to a resolution that protects the rights of the student with a disability as well as takes into consideration the needs and rights of the other parties involved.

Options to be considered may include either the student requesting the assistance animal or the non-approving roommate(s) or apartment mate(s) being moved to a different location based on space availability.

If the Special Housing Committee determines the request is not reasonable, the student will be notified of the denial of the request in writing by the Accessibility Specialist.  The notice will include the specific reasons for the denial, advise the requestor they may submit additional information for reconsideration, and the option the requestor may appeal the decision of the Special Housing Committee through the Discrimination Grievance Procedure through the Office of Title IX/EEO.

Owner's Responsibilities for Emotional Support Animal (ESA)
All emotional support animals approved to live with the owner in University Housing must meet the following requirements:
  1. WVSU will not ask or require a student with a disability, hereinafter referred to as owner, to pay a deposit for an approved ESA.
  2. The owner is solely responsible for the custody and care of the ESA.
  3. Prior to the arrival of the animal on campus, the owner must abide by current county (Kanawha), state (West Virginia) and federal ordinances, laws, and/or regulations pertaining to licensing, vaccination, and other requirements for animals.
    1. It is the owner’s responsibility to know and understand these ordinances, laws, and regulations.
    2. The university has the right to require documentation of compliance with such ordinances, laws, and/or regulations, which may include a vaccination certificate and proof of licensure. The university reserves the right to request an updated verification at any time during the animal’s residency.
  4. The animal must have identification, such as a collar and tag, at all times. For small animals which may not tolerate collars and tags, microchip identification is sufficient. An exception can be made for animals that are primarily caged and confined to the residence. 
    1. The owner does not need a vest, identification card or other such means of identification as there are currently no recognized registries, certifications or other identification methods recognized under the law. 
  5. The animal is allowed in university housing only as long as it is necessary because of the owner’s disability. The owner must notify the Accessibility Specialist with SAR and the Director of Residence Life if the animal is no longer required, the animal is no longer in the residence or the owner is requesting that the approved animal be replaced by another emotional support animal.
  6. The owner must register with the Accessibility Specialist each semester as well as provide documentation from the mental health provider yearly, regarding the continuing need for the emotional support animal as a reasonable accommodation.
  7. The owner is required to ensure the animal is well cared for at all time.  WVSU personnel shall not be required to provide care or food for any animal.  Any evidence of mistreatment or abuse may result in immediate removal of the ESA and discipline for the owner or responsible individual.
  8. WVSU personnel shall not be required to remove an animal during emergency evacuation for events such as a fire alarm, nor will roommates be held responsible for the same.  In cases of emergency, emergency personnel will determine whether to remove the animal.  Neither the university nor first responders may be held responsible for the care, damage to, or loss of the animal.
  9. ESA’s are permitted within campus housing.  The animal should not accompany the student to class, the library, dining service areas, the fitness center, classrooms or other areas of campus. If a student believes they may need the animal in these areas as an accommodation, they must request consideration of this accommodation through Student Accessibility Resources.
  10. An ESA must be contained within the owner’s privately assigned individual living accommodations (e.g., room, suite, apartment) except to the extent the individual is taking the animal out for natural relief or exercise. When an ESA is outside the private individual living accommodations, it must be in an animal carrier or controlled by a leash or harness. When using a leash, the leash must be 6' in length or less.   The restraint applies unless (1) the student is unable to use a leash, harness, tether or other restraint due to disability or (2) use of such a restraint would impede the animal’s safe and effective performance of its work or task. The animal is only allowed outside the student’s residence for the following:
    1. Toileting (within areas approved by University)
    2. Purposes of reaching the nearest transit stop or the student's vehicle to travel off campus
    3. Exercising the animal (within areas approved by the University)
  11. An ESA may not be left unattended other than reasonable periods of time based on the type of animal.  What is reasonable will vary from species to species and animal to animal and should be determined on a case by case basis in consultation with Residence Life staff. 
    1. The owner is responsible for ensuring that the ESA is contained via crate, cage, or other manner, as appropriate, when the owner is not present during the day such as while attending classes or other activities.
    2. For those animals which require daily care, the animal should not be unattended overnight in university housing to be cared for by any individual other than the owner. If the owner is to be absent from his/her residence hall overnight or longer, the owner must make arrangements for care in the owner’s absence.
    3. The University may take reasonable efforts to gain access to an animal confined in the residence hall when the animal appears to be distress or there is danger to the animal as indicated by smells, sounds or other signs which a Residence Life or other University staff member determines may be a sign of such.
  12. It is the owner’s personal responsibility to immediately clean up and properly dispose of the animal’s waste in a safe and sanitary manner, or to solicit the proper assistance, if their assistance animal defecates routinely, or becomes ill and either vomits and/or becomes incontinent.  The owner should contact the staff from the Residence Life in order to identify an appropriate location for elimination of waste.
  13. The owner must fully cooperate with university personnel with regard to meeting the terms of these procedures for care of the animal (e.g., cleaning the animal, feeding/watering the animal, outdoor grass relief area, disposing of feces, etc.).
  14. The student must take appropriate precautions to prevent property damage or injury. The student is financially responsible for the actions of the animal including bodily injury or property damage, including but not limited to any medical expenses, replacement of furniture, carpet, drapes or wall covering, etc.
  15. An individual with a disability may be charged for any damage caused by their ESA beyond reasonable wear and tear or for cleaning which is above and beyond normal cleaning to the same extent that other individuals are charged for damages beyond reasonable wear and tear or additional cleaning. This may include removal of odors caused by the animal and for repairs to University property. The university shall have the right to bill the owner’s account for unmet obligations under this provision. Potential costs include those incurred while the student occupies the residence and those assessed when the student vacates the residence.
  16. The owner's residence may be inspected for fleas, ticks or other pests once per semester or as needed. The Residence Life staff will conduct health and safety inspections.  If fleas, ticks or other pests are detected through inspection or preventative maintenance, the residence will be treated using approved fumigation methods by a university-approved pest control vendor.  The owner will be billed for the expense of any pest treatment above and beyond normally required pest management.
  17. The owner may be requested to utilize certain pieces of equipment in common areas such as laundering machines to eliminate risk of contamination for those who may be sensitive or allergic to pet dander.
  18. The owner must provide consent for Student Accessibility Resources to disclose information regarding the request for and presence of the ESA to those individuals who may be impacted by the presence of the animal including, but not limited to, Residence Life personnel, First Responders, and potential and/or actual roommate(s)/neighbor(s). Such information shall be limited to information related to the animal and shall not include information related to the individual’s disability.
  19. The owner agrees to abide by all equally applicable residential policies that are unrelated to the individual’s disability such as assuring that the animal does not unduly interfere with the routine activities of the university or cause difficulties for individuals who reside there.
  20. Any violation of the above rules will be reviewed by staff with Residence Life and Student Accessibility Resources.  The owner will be afforded all rights of due process and appeal as outlined in the grievance process.
  21. The owner is responsible for adhering to the procedures detailed in this Assistance Animal Agreement.
  22. The owner should submit requested information regarding their ESA (e.g., veterinary verification of routine care) to:
Office of Housing and Residence Life
Judge Damon J. Keith Scholars Hall
(304) 766-3037
(800) 987-2112, ext 3037
Fax: (304) 766-5174
  1. These guidelines will be reassessed annually.
The university may require the individual to remove the animal from university housing if: 
  1. the animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others or causes property damage to the property of others;
  2. the animal’s presence results in a fundamental alteration of a university program;
  3. the owner does not comply with the owner’s Responsibilities set forth in the previous section; or
  4. the animal or its presence creates an unmanageable disturbance or interference with the university community.
The university will base such determinations upon the consideration of the behavior of the particular animal at issue, and not on speculation or fear about the harm or damages an animal may cause. Any removal of the animal will be done in consultation with the Accessibility Specialist with Student Accessibility Resources. The owner has the right to appeal by following the Disability Discrimination grievance process. The owner will be afforded all rights of due process and appeal as outlined in that process.
Unless exigent circumstances require otherwise, the owner will have 48-72 hours to remove the animal from the residence hall. If university housing cannot contact the owner to remove the animal, housing will contact the alternative caregiver listed on the Emotional Support Animal Registration Form. If the alternative caregiver is not available, Physical Facilities staff and the WVSU Police Department will be notified to remove the animal off the premise and taken to the local animal control facility, the Kanawha-Charleston Humane Society. Should the ESA be removed from the premises for any reason, the owner is expected to fulfill his/her housing obligations for the remainder of the housing contract.
Animals on Campus - Disability Services


Michael Casey, MS, CRC, CDF, LCAS


Disability & Accessibility Resources
  • Student Accessibility Resources
  • SAR Testing Center
  • Steps-2-Success

Phone/Text:             (681) 533-0850
Office:                        117 Sullivan Hall East

Monday - Friday
Fall/Spring   8:30am - 5:00pm
Summer      8:00am - 4:00pm

ESA Request FORMDocumentation form

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