Q&As About Emotional Assistance Animals in University Housing
Q: When does the University allow students to bring pets with them to University housing?
A: The University does NOT allow students to bring pets into University housing.
Q: Does the University ever allow students to bring an animal with them to University housing?
A: Yes. The University allows two different categories of animals into University housing only as needed to provide assistance to qualified students with disabilities, as required by law, and in accordance with university policies and protocols. These are: (1) service animals (dogs or, in some cases, miniature horses) trained to perform specific tasks or functions for the benefit of an individual with a disability, as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act; or (2) emotional assistance animals (also called emotional support or therapy animals) necessary to afford a student with a documented disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy University housing, where there is documented evidence of a direct relationship between the disability and the assistance the animal provides, in accordance with the Fair Housing Act and, unless not substantially equivalent to or otherwise inconsistent with the Fair Housing Act, the Virginia Fair Housing Law.
Q: Can service animals and emotional assistance animals go other places on campus with disabled students besides University housing?
A: Trained service animals will generally be allowed in facilities across campus, as required by the ADA, with exceptions noted in the University's policy on Use of Service Animals on Campus. However, a request for an emotional assistance animal only applies to the student's campus residence, NOT academic or administrative buildings or elsewhere on campus (except public spaces where pets are allowed).
Q: What do I need to do to request approval to bring an emotional assistance animal to live with me in University housing?
A: A student wishing to bring an emotional assistance animal to University housing will need to complete and submit a request for disability accommodation form and submit it to the Title IX Coordinator and Director of Disability Resources, along with all required documentation needed to demonstrate a disability in accordance with W&L's General Guidelines for Documentation of Physical and Non-Neurodevelopmental Mental Disabilities. In addition to demonstrating a disability, the documentation must evidence that the animal is necessary to afford the student an equal opportunity to use and enjoy University housing and that there is a direct relationship between the disability and the assistance that the animal provides (in other words, that the animal's support directly alleviates at least one of the identified symptoms or effects of the disability). [Note - - In the case of emotional/psychological disorders, conditions, or syndromes, the professional must have comprehensive training in the differential diagnosis of mental disorders and direct experience in diagnosis and treatment of adults. Qualified diagnosing professionals would include licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, and neurologists, or other professionals with such training and expertise in the diagnosis of mental disorders.] The student may also wish to give consent for W&L's Director of Student Health and Counseling or other administrators to speak with the student's medical provider(s) in follow up, as needed, for clarification of documentation provided or discussion of whether there is an alternative accommodation that would be appropriate.
Q: How far in advance do I need to make my request to bring an emotional assistance animal into University housing?
A: A student should make a request for an emotional assistance animal as a disability accommodation and provide the required documentation outlined below as soon in advance of moving into University housing as possible. However, if the request and required documentation are received fewer than sixty (60) days before the individual intends to move into University housing, W&L cannot guarantee that it will be able to process the request and make arrangements to meet the student's accommodation needs, if approved, during the first academic term following the request. If the need for the accommodation arises when a student already resides in University housing, the student should make the request and submit the required documentation as soon as possible; however, W&L cannot guarantee that it will be able to process the request and make arrangements to meet the student's accommodation needs, if approved, during that term in which the request is received. In no case may a student bring the animal to campus pending the final decision on a request for accommodation, only after a request is approved and all paperwork requirements are met (see below).
Q: If I am approved to bring an emotional assistance animal into University housing, what are my responsibilities before and after bringing the animal to campus?
A: A student approved to bring an emotional assistance animal into University housing will need to provide a letter on official letterhead from the animal's treating veterinarian in advance, confirming that the animal is up to date on all required and recommended vaccinations, is in good health, and is free from diseases or conditions communicable to humans. The student will also need to sign an official disability accommodation letter with the Title IX Coordinator and Director of Disability Resources and an Emotional Assistance Animal Agreement, specifying and agreeing to all details required by W&L regarding the student's responsibilities for care and control of the animal, conditions of care and supervision, the specific housing areas in which the animal will be allowed, prohibition on the animal being taken to other campus facilities, student responsibility for property damage or personal injury cause by the animal, circumstances justifying removal of the animal, and other W&L conditions and student responsibilities associated with the presence of the animal in campus housing.
All dogs must be completely housebroken. The use of "puppy pads" will not be permitted. For dogs under 12 months old that are not already living with the student at the time the request for an Emotional Assistance Animal is submitted, the University will require a statement from the breeder, adoption agency, or other person or entity providing the animal to the student that the dog is completely housebroken, not requiring the use of "puppy pads." For animals already living with the student, the student can self-attest that the dog is completely housebroken.
This policy has not yet been revised.