Policy Title

Emotional Support Animal Policy for Students


Emotional support animals are permitted in all campus housing facilities, provided the student has received prior approval and complies with all University established regulations and requirements. This policy is designed to balance the needs of the student with a disability while protecting health, safety, living, and student conditions for other students.


Students that have been approved for the use of Emotional Support Animals in Residential Campus Housing.

Policy Number:3.5.1
Effective Date:08/01/2017
Date Reviewed: 08/01/2017
Last Review Date: Oct 1 2016 12:00AM
Responsible Official: Department of Residence Life
Responsible Office: Division of Student Affairs
Contact Information:

Student Affairs

238 DiGiorgio Center

Rock Hill, SC 29733, USA


803/323-2395 (fax)


1.0 Specific meanings of bold terms seen throughout this policy can be found within the University's policy definition glossary by following the link below.

1.1 http://www.winthrop.edu/policy-definitions-glossary

Winthrop University

Division of Student Life


August 2017

Winthrop University is committed to allowing students with disabilities the use of a service or emotional support animal as appropriate on campus to facilitate their full-participation and equal access to the university's programs and activities. The university recognizes the importance of service animals and emotional support animals to students with disabilities and has established policies unique to both categories of animals. These policies ensure that students with disabilities, who require the use of service or emotional support animals as a reasonable accommodation, receive the benefit of the work or tasks performed by such animals and/or the therapeutic support they provide. 

Set forth below are specific requirements and guidelines concerning the appropriate use and protocols associated with emotional support animals for students. Winthrop University reserves the right to amend this policy as circumstances require. The goal is to find the proper balance that serves the disabled student while protecting health, safety, living, and study conditions for other students. This document is intended to outline the rights and responsibilities of student residents who live in university housing.


Emotional support animals alleviate one or more identified effects of a person’s disabilities. For the purposes of this document, comfort and therapeutic companion animals will be referred to as emotional support animals. This document does not address service animals. The differences between the two are as follows:

A "service animal" is a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. Other animals, whether wild or domestic, do not qualify as service animals. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding a person with impaired vision, alerting a person with a hearing impairment, 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, and/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.

An "emotional support animal" is (1) an animal that works, provides assistance, or performs tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability, or (2) an animal that provides 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 emotional support animals are trained by their owners. In some cases, no special training is required. The university may consider 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 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.

For students living on campus, federal fair housing regulations provide that emotional support animals be considered a reasonable accommodation in campus housing. In order for an accompanying emotional support animal to be considered a reasonable accommodation, sufficient documentation meeting the requirements of current federal fair housing regulations must be provided.

This required documentation (current and dated within the last 12 months) includes the following:

· The existence of a disability.

· A relationship between the disability and the relief the animal provides.

· A showing of necessity in order for the resident to use and enjoy an on-campus residence.

· Please note on-line certifications are not recognized nor used to establish an animal as being an ESA.

Since these regulations only apply to housing facilities, the animals may not be allowed in other areas of campus (e.g., library, academic buildings, classrooms, labs, campus center, other residence halls, etc.), except on a case-by-case basis.

Non-domesticated, wild, dangerous, venomous, and/or illegal animals are not permitted. The Department of Residence Life does not permit rodents, arachnids, reptiles and other exotic animals in university housing given the health and safety issues unique to the type of animal and shared student housing.

In order to receive permission to have an emotional support animal in university housing or other university facilities, the student must work with the Office of Accessibility. Only ONE emotional support animal per student is allowed.


Winthrop University is aware of its responsibility to provide available safe, affordable and healthy housing to all students who are required or wish to live on campus in university housing. In keeping with this obligation, it is the policy of Winthrop that emotional support animals are permitted in all housing facilities provided the established regulations and requirements below are met. However, any student wishing to exercise his/her right to have one emotional support animal in university housing must first have the verification of the Office of Accessibility. Bringing and allowing an emotional support animal to stay in university housing prior to acquiring said verification, may result in loss of privileges related to having an emotional support animal in the future.


 Prior to bringing an emotional support animal to campus, students must contact the Office of Accessibility and provide the required documentation. Required documentation includes the following:

A. The resident student should submit a personal statement detailing the nature of the request and the reason for it; explain how the animal alleviates symptoms of the disability and the resident’s understanding of the animals behavior, particularly when left alone in a room while the student is in class; as well as documentation of the resident’s disability to be reviewed.

This documentation is due to the Office of Accessibility by May 15th for new students and February 1st for returning students. Applications submitted later will be considered, Winthrop University will make a good faith effort to provide reasonable accommodations, but may not be able to guarantee that appropriate residential provisions will be completed within that semester.

B. Documentation of the need for an emotional support animal should generally include the following information:

  • Verification of the student's disability from the attending physician, psychiatrist, or another professional provider.
  • Statement on how the animal serves as an accommodation for the documented disability.
  • Statement on how the emotional support animal affords the person with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy the residence hall.
  • Current documentation of items requested must be dated within the last 12 months.

C. The Office of Accessibility will engage in an interactive process including the student, other campus officials as needed, and a review of the appropriate documentation. This policy will be carefully reviewed with the resident student at that time.

D. Upon approval of an emotional support animal, the resident student's roommate(s) and/or suitemate(s) will be notified (if applicable) to solicit their acknowledgement of the approval, and notify them that the approved animal will be residing in shared assigned living space.

  • All roommates or suite mates of the Owner must sign an agreement acknowledging that the emotional support animal will be in residence with them.
  • In the event that one or more roommates or suitemates do not want to reside in the hall with an emotional support animal, those individuals will be given the option to move to an alternate location. If roommates were assigned to the housing BEFORE the animal owner applied for housing, the original roommates will not be required to move; the animal owner will have to accept another housing assignment.

E. Upon approval of an emotional support animal, staff in the Office of Accessibility will notify the student via campus mail or email and will then be required to meet with the Residential Learning Coordinator of their assigned residence hall to review the ESA Maintenance in the Residence Hall. The Owner’s meeting with the Residential Learning Coordinator of their assigned residence hall will be to become familiar with a checklist that reviews expectations for behavior, responsibilities, and resources for animal care available to the Owner in and around their assigned residence hall.

F. Only after need and verification has been established by the Office of Accessibility and a meeting with the appropriate Residential Learning Coordinator occurs, may a student bring an emotional support animal into university housing. The university will place signage indicating that an emotional support animal is residing in the residence hall.


A. Residents with emotional support animals must comply with all state and local animal ordinances, as well as university housing policies and guidelines. Residents will be responsible to annually complete all vaccinations and licenses for the emotional support animal.

B. Emotional support animals will not be left alone for extended periods (overnight) in a resident’s room or apartment. In the event that an emotional support animal is left alone in a room or apartment for longer than a reasonable time, and is not being attended to as needed (food, time outside, etc.), or is creating a disturbance, the Department of Residence Life will contact the resident or their emergency contact to remove the emotional support animal IMMEDIATELY. Such action may be taken by the university without liability.

Any cost of removing the emotional support animal if the resident is not present, and prior arrangements have not been made by the resident for the emotional support animal to be removed or cared for, shall be the responsibility of the resident.

C. The Owner is responsible for assuring that the approved animal does not unduly interfere with the routine activities of the residence hall or cause difficulties for students who reside there. Emotional support animals must not make excessive noise or display behavior that will disrupt other community members. Individuals with disabilities who are accompanied by emotional support animals must comply with the same rules regarding noise, safety, disruption, and cleanliness as people without disabilities. Sensitivity to residents with allergies and to those who fear animals is important to ensure the peace of the residential community.

D. The Owner must ensure that the emotional support animal does not:

  • Attack, harass, sniff, jump on/at or disrupt others or their personal belongings
  • Display any repeated behaviors or noises that are disruptive to others.
  • Block evacuation routes or egress in case of an emergency.
  • Leave the Owner’s room except when accompanied by the Owner.

E. The Owner is financially responsible for the actions of the approved animal including bodily injury or property damage. The Owner's responsibility covers but is not limited to replacement of furniture, carpet, windows, wall coverings, and the like. The Owner is expected to cover these costs at the time of repair and/or move-out.

F. The Owner is responsible for any expenses incurred for cleaning above and beyond a standard cleaning or for repairs to university premises that are assessed after the student and approved animal vacate the residence. The university shall have the right to bill the student account of the Owner for unmet obligations.

G. The Owner must notify the Office of Accessibility in writing if the animal is no longer needed or is no longer in residence. To replace an emotional support animal, the Owner must file a new request with the Office of Accessibility.

H. The university recommends the Owner maintain an air purifier that is appropriate for the square footage of the residence where the approved animal resides. This is a preventative measure to reduce any possible allergens in the air.

I. The Owner is responsible for following a preventative pest, e.g., fleas, ticks, etc., and parasite control program.

J. If the animal is canine or feline, the Owner is responsible for the approved animal wearing a collar with an ID tag and a current rabies tag at all times.

K. The Owner's residence may be inspected for pests once a semester or as needed, as are all university residence halls. The Department of Residence Life will schedule the inspection. If pests are detected through inspection, the residence will be treated using approved fumigation methods by a university approved pest control service. The Owner will be billed for the expense of any pest treatment above and beyond standard pest management in the residence halls.

L. During times when university custodial or facilities management personnel must be in the residence, the approved animal shall be properly kenneled and the Owner present or the Owner shall temporarily remove the approved animal from the residence.

M. Emotional support animals must be contained at all times within the privately assigned residential room when the student is not present. Emotional support animals must be contained within the privately assigned residential area (room, apartment, suite) at all times. Common area closets may not be used to store emotional support animal materials and items. When transported outside the private residential area, an animal carrier or control by leash or harness must be used. Requests to take an emotional support animal into academic and other areas will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the Office of Accessibility. (Unlike service animals which may travel freely with their owner throughout university housing and other areas of the university.)

N. Approved animals may not be left overnight in university housing to be cared for by another student. Approved animals must be taken with the student if they leave campus overnight or for a prolonged period.

O. The Department of Residence Life may relocate the Owner and approved animal as necessary.

P. The Owner agrees to continue to abide by all Student Code of Conduct policies.

Q. Residents with emotional support animals will provide university housing with contact information for an alternative care giver if the resident is unable, or unwilling to provide adequate care for the emotional support animal. University housing will assume no responsibility/liability for the care or well-being of a resident’s emotional support animal.

R. Should the approved animal be removed from the premises for any reason, the Owner is expected to fulfill his/her housing obligations, including the mandatory two year campus housing residency.

S. The Owner undertakes to comply with the following animal health and wellbeing requirements:

  • Vaccination: In accordance with local ordinances and regulations the animal must be immunized against diseases common to that type of animal, such as the rabies vaccine, and, when appropriate, wear a rabies vaccination tag.
  • Health: Animals, other than cats and dogs, to be housed in university housing should have an annual clean bill of health from a licensed veterinarian. Documentation can be a vaccination certificate for the animal or a veterinarian's statement regarding the animal's health. The university has authority to direct that the animal receive veterinary attention.
  • Control: If appropriate, the emotional support animal must be on a leash, unless the leash would inhibit the animal's ability to be of service. Otherwise, the emotional support animal must be under voice control.

T. Emotional support animals must be housebroken. The resident is responsible for cleaning up all animal waste (both indoors and outdoors) in a timely and effective fashion. Animals that are not housebroken may not be eligible to serve as an emotional support animal. Additionally, the resident shall be fully and solely responsible for disposal of animal waste. Failure to properly dispose of animal waste will result in a charge of violating university housing policies. Continued violations may result in eviction.

U. Emotional support animals must be well-behaved; this includes no barking, whining, scratching, chewing or aggression. The emotional support animal must be under the control of the resident, such as on a leash or in a carrier, when being transported to and from the hall. The resident is responsible at all times for the actions of his or her emotional support animal. Emotional support animals shall not disturb, annoy, or cause nuisance to other members of the community. The owner resident is responsible for any odors, noise, damage, or other conduct of his or her emotional support animal that disturbs others or damages the premises. Residents who violate this policy or these obligations may be required to remove the emotional support animal from the residence hall room or apartment.

V. Emotional support animals cannot interfere with the reasonable enjoyment of people sharing the space. Emotional support animals are generally not permitted in any public common spaces within the residence halls or apartments unless they are being transported to and from the hall, including but not limited to community/shared bathrooms, lounges, dining rooms, indoor recreational rooms, computer labs, and study rooms. Residence Leaning Coordinators are willing to review on a case-by-case basis any reasonable request to modify this general expectation.

W. Emergency contact information for emotional support and service animals must be added to the Owner’s Emergency Medical Information Form in the residence where the Owner resides.

X. Any violation of the above rules and regulations (even just one incident) may result in immediate removal of the approved animal from the university and the Owner may be answerable to the Student Code of Conduct system.


A. Prior to bringing an emotional support animal to campus, students must contact the Office of Accessibility (If residing on campus, the Office of Accessibility will contact the Department of Residence Life) and provide the required documentation.

B. Only after need has been verified by the Office of Accessibility, roommates and suitemates have signed an acknowledgement, and the student has met with their Residential Learning Coordinator, may a student bring an emotional support animal into university housing.

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