Emotional Support Animal Procedures

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Emotional Support Animals

An Emotional Support Animal (ESA) is one that is necessary to afford a person with a mental or emotional disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy University Housing, pursuant to the Fair Housing Act. An ESA provides emotional support, comfort, and companionship which may alleviate one or more symptoms of a mental or emotional disability.  ESA’s do not perform work or tasks that would qualify them as “service animals” under the Americans with Disabilities Act and therefore are not permitted in any other areas than the student's dwelling unit within University Housing.

Although it is the policy of SIU that individuals are generally prohibited from having animals of any type in University Housing, SIU will consider an accommodation request for an Emotional Support Animal. SIU Carbondale will not limit room assignments for individuals with Emotional Support Animals to any particular building or buildings because the individual needs an Emotional Support Animal because of a disability. However, no Emotional Support Animal may be kept in University Housing at any time prior to the individual receiving approval as a reasonable accommodation.

Student procedures for requesting an ESA

Students with disabilities who request an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) in Housing must submit an Emotional Support Animal Request Application and provide medical documentation showing that the animal is prescribed as part of an ongoing treatment plan.

Documentation for ESA Requests

In order to evaluate the request, DSS must receive sufficient documentation from a qualified provider. Providers can use the Emotional Support Animal in University Housing Documentation Form. Equivalent information may be provided in letter format on official letterhead* by a licensed professional. In either format, documentation must be sent directly to DSS by the provider. Fax 618-453-5700

Examples of a qualified provider in this case include but are not limited to:

  • Psychologist
  • Neuropsychologist
  • Psychiatrist
  • Licensed Counselor or Clinical Social Worker

* Provider letters must answer all questions found on the Emotional Support Animal in University Housing Documentation form.

After these forms (request form and documentation form) are received students will be contacted by DSS to discuss their request for accommodation.

Avoid ESA Letter Scams

Some websites sell certificates or letters for emotional support animals to anyone who answers certain questions or participates in a short interview and pays a fee. Such documentation from the internet is not sufficient to reliably establish that an individual has a disability-related need for an assistance animal.

We recognize that there are legitimate, licensed health care professionals that provide services remotely over the internet. Provider may use our Emotional Support Animal (ESA) form which allows them to answer all necessary questions regarding the accommodation request. A note from a health care professional with personal knowledge of the individual making the request is acceptable. The note needs to provide information on a person’s disability-related limitations, corresponding need for an ESA is also acceptable, and all the necessary details of the treatment plan. Documentation with this level of detail is only possible when the health care professional has personal knowledge of the individual.

If you already have a professional looking after your mental health, that is the best person to talk to regarding your interest in an emotional support animal. 

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) staff are an appropriate venue to establish a therapeutic relationship for purposes of assessing a student’s disability-related need for an Emotional Support Animal.

How do I Know if an ESA Letter Provider is Legitimate?

A legitimate ESA letter can only come from a licensed healthcare professional, such as a therapist, counselor, social worker, psychiatrist, psychologist, nurse, physician’s assistant, or doctor. If you didn't talk to a board-certified doctor or licensed mental health professional who has personal knowledge of you through an established therapeutic relationship, you are being sold an unenforceable document.

Beware of sites that:

  • Approve you for an ESA letter after only asking a few questions online.
  • Only have you message or talk with a mental healthcare professional once, who is often not located in your state.
  • Register your emotional support animal and tell you registration is sufficient for protecting your rights. Registration is NOT the same as getting an ESA letter.

Visitors in University Housing

During special, short-term events such as summer camps and conferences that provide housing, Service Animals are allowed, as required by the ADA. Emotional Support Animals, as defined by the Fair Housing Act, are not permitted to reside in campus housing nor to accompany an Owner during summer camps unless the camp is more than two weeks in length. The FHA rule does not apply to transient housing intended for a temporary sojourn. However, SIU respects the needs of disabled individuals and chooses to allow Emotional Support Animals for any summer camp which is more than two weeks (14 days) in length.

Camp attendees or visitors staying in SIU Housing must initiate the approval process three (3) weeks in advance by faxing a letter from a provider or the ESA documentation form to Center for Disability Services at 618-453-5700. Failure to obtain approval may result in the animal being removed from University housing. Short term or overnight guests in the residence halls are not allowed to bring an ESA.

Employees in University Housing

Requests made by faculty or staff residing in University Housing should be directed to the ADA Office. Before an emotional support animal can move into University housing with an employee with a disability, a request must be submitted to and approved by the ADA Coordinator. Failure to obtain approval may result in the animal being removed from University housing.  To initiate the approval process, employees should visit the employee accommodation website to begin the accommodation process.


Important Information

SIU will accept and consider requests for accommodations in University Housing at any time. The individual making the request for accommodations should contact Disability Support Services (DSS) as soon as practicably possible before moving into University Housing. However, if the request for accommodation is made fewer than 60 days before the individual intends to move into University Housing, SIU cannot guarantee that it will be able to meet the individual’s accommodation needs during the first semester or term of occupancy.

If the need for the accommodation arises when an individual already resides in University housing, the student should contact DSS and provide any available documentation as soon as practicably possible. SIU cannot guarantee that it will be able to meet the accommodation needs during the semester or term in which the request is received.

For questions, call DSS at 618-453-5738.