Emotional Support Animals (ESA) are a category of animals that provide necessary emotional support to an individual with a mental or psychiatric disability that alleviates one or more identified symptoms of an individual’s disability.
Occidental College maintains a “no pets” policy in the residence halls. However, in accordance with Federal law (Fair Housing Amendments Act), the College will consider requests for accommodations to the housing policy to allow students experiencing significant mental health problems to keep an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) with them in-residence.
An ESA may be a dog, cat, small bird, rabbit, hamster, gerbil, fish, or other small, domesticated animal that is traditionally kept in the home for pleasure. Animals that pose health risks from zoonotic diseases or safety concerns regarding containment that cannot be sufficiently mitigated for inclusion in the communal living setting generally will not be approved. Generally, a dog must be at least 9 months of age to live on campus to assure that the dog is reliably housebroken, not disruptive to other residents, and has all of the shots necessary to make it safe to be around humans and other animals that may be in residence.
The communal living nature of the residence hall requires the institution to consider the comfort and concerns of all students in residence. ESAs are not permitted on campus until the accommodation request has been made and approved. Students found with unauthorized animals in the residence hall will be subject to sanctions under the Student Code of Conduct.
- ESA requests must be made within 60 days before the Student intends to move into College housing, in order to allow for arrangements to be made for the ESA. This policy refers to the rules established for a student to bring one ESA into the residence setting. In general, only one animal may be allowed in an individual residence hall room, as well as in a residence hall unit. A student must fill out our Accommodation Request form and submit documentation from their current treating provider.
- The documentation provided for an ESA must come from a mental health practitioner in the state of California, or in the student's home state. Our ESA Provider Form should be shared with your current treating provider as a guide to includethe necessary information we need to evaluate this request. Documentation of your significant mental health impairment and the associated need for an ESA should come from a mental health provider who knows and understands your difficulties and can explain how the presence of the animal may help to alleviate your symptomology. Occidental College is concerned about the growing number of questionable website services that offer to create “ESA letters” for a set price, often based answers to an online survey. Such letters will rarely provide the information necessary to support your request for accommodation, and are not viewed by the institution as a reliable source of information. 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 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.
Once we have received the following documentations,the Owner will have a meeting with a Disability Services Staff member to determine eligibility, and to go over the ESA Policy and Agreement Form.