Emotional Support Animal Request Process

The following information outlines the process for requesting an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) in university housing. Please note that we will need to receive medical documentation from a licensed clinician, with whom you have a personal medical relationship, that clearly indicates you have a disability; the documentation must also indicate that the clinician is recommending or prescribing an ESA as a result of your disability. The documentation must articulate how the presence of living with an animal in university housing is necessary in alleviating the symptoms of your disability.

Some important points for you to know as you consider making a request for an Emotional Support Animal in university housing:

  • As defined by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), an EmotionalSupport Animal (ESA) is an animal that provides therapeutic emotional support for individuals with disabilities that affect major life activities; ESAs are not pets.
  • The documentation must come from a clinician who is managing your care and is qualified and licensed to make the diagnosis and recommendations.
  • We will not accept as documentation letters from online companies that provide such letters for afee. Additionally, web based “certifications” of support animals are not considered appropriate documentation. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been asked to investigate websites that purports to provide these letters. 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 healthcare professionals who consult with them lack the personal knowledge that is necessary to make such determinations.
  • Emotional support animals are only permitted in Butler University Housing and are prohibited from classrooms and other buildings on campus.

Below is a description of the process that would happen should you decide to pursue an ESA request:

  1. The student must schedule a meeting with a staff member in Student Disability Services (SDS) in order to register for services (JH 136) and discuss the accommodations process. At this meeting, SDS will provide the student with the necessary paperwork and written breakdown of this process.
  2. The student will provide a typed statement in which they make the request and state why they are making the request in the context of their disability. This statement must include a description of the animal the student hopes to bring and how the presence of the animal will provide them with equal access to university housing. The statement form is available in SDS.
  3. The student must provide documentation from a qualified clinician, including a detailed recommendation regarding an ESA. While a specific verification form is not required, SDS will provide one to the student to help in streamlining the documentation-gathering process after the student meets to discuss the process as detailed in Step 1.
  4. The student engages in an individual discussion with SDS staff to register their disability with SDS. In this meeting, the student signs a release allowing SDS to discuss the request with the recommending clinician should there be questions. Additionally, the student signs a release allowing SDS to share the documentation and overall request with the ESA request committee members. Both release forms are available in SDS.
  5. A committee consisting of staff members from Student Disability Services, Residence Life, Counseling andConsultation Services, and other relevant campus entities as needed, will meet to review the documentation and determine if the request is a reasonable accommodation.
  6. Within 30 days of their submission of the fully completed ESA request packet, the student will be notified bySDS via email regarding the committee decision. The completed request packet includes the ESA ClinicianVerification Form, the ESA Student Request Form, the student’s typed personal statement, and all relevant release forms. This timeframe may be extended as necessary by the University in its sole discretion.
  7. If the ESA accommodation request is granted, the student will be contacted by Residence Life to discuss their policies around animals in university housing. The student must review and sign an agreement indicating their understanding of their responsibilities associated with the emotional support animal.
  8. Each year during the housing assignment lottery, students must indicate on their housing contract that they need a “disability-related housing accommodation request” if they intend to utilize the ESA accommodation again; they must also complete the Residence Life agreement contract each year.
  9. The university reserves the right to require updated vaccination and health/safety information regarding the animal.

For additional information or to discuss your individual circumstances, contact Student Disability Services in Jordan Hall 136, by phone at 317-940-9308, or by email at sds@butler.edu.