Service and Emotional Support Animal Procedures

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Service Animals

Service animal means any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual's disability. Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to, assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, providing non-violent protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, assisting an individual during a seizure, alerting individuals to the presence of allergens, retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities, and helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors. The crime deterrent effects of an animal's presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition.

Individuals with disabilities shall be permitted to be accompanied by their service animals in all areas of the University’s facilities where members of the public, participants in services, programs or activities, or invitees, as relevant, are allowed to go.

University staff may ask an individual with a disability to remove a service animal from the premises if:

  1. The animal is out of control and the animal's handler does not take effective action to control it; or
  2. The animal is not housebroken.

A service animal shall be under the control of its handler. A service animal shall have a harness, leash, or other tether, unless either the handler is unable because of a disability to use a harness, leash, or other tether, or the use of a harness, leash, or other tether would interfere with the service animal's safe, effective performance of work or tasks, in which case the service animal must be otherwise under the handler's control (e.g., voice control, signals, or other effective means).University staff are not responsible for any aspects of caring for a service animal.

University staff will not ask about the nature or extent of a person's disability but may make two inquiries to determine whether an animal qualifies as a service animal.

  1. Staff may ask if the animal is required because of a disability.
  2. Staff may ask what work or task the animal has been trained to perform.

The University will not require documentation, such as proof that the animal has been certified, trained, or licensed as a service animal. Generally, staff will not make these inquiries about a service animal when it is readily apparent that an animal is trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability (e.g., the dog is observed guiding an individual who is blind or has low vision, pulling a person's wheelchair, or providing assistance with stability or balance to an individual with an observable mobility disability).

Any student with a disability who is planning extended use of a service animal in campus housing should contact Disability Support Services 618.453.5738.

The University will make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures to permit the use of a miniature horse by an individual with a disability if the miniature horse has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of the individual with a disability.

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.

Guidelines used to determine if the presence of an ESA is reasonable

Disability Support Services will determine reasonable accommodations for students who request to have Emotional Support Animals in University Housing. University Housing will allow an ESA if certain conditions are met. The animal must be necessary for the resident with a disability to have equal access to housing and the accommodation must also be reasonable. An accommodation is unreasonable if it presents an undue financial or administrative burden on University Housing, poses a substantial and direct threat to personal or public safety or constitutes a fundamental alteration of the nature of the service or program.

SIU Carbondale may consider the following factors, among others, as evidence in determining whether the presence of the animal is reasonable or in the making of Housing assignments for individuals with Emotional Support Animals: 

  1. The size of the animal is too large for available assigned Housing space;
  2. The animal's presence would force another individual from individual Housing(e.g. serious allergies);
  3. The animal's presence otherwise violates individuals' right to peace and quiet enjoyment;
  4. The animal is not housebroken or is unable to live with others in a reasonable manner;
  5. The animal's vaccinations are not up-to-date;
  6. The animal poses or has posed in the past a direct threat to the individual or others such as aggressive behavior towards or injuring the individual or others; or
  7. The animal causes or has caused excessive damage to Housing beyond reasonable wear and tear.

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 Form 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

A qualified provider in this case is a licensed:

  • Psychologist
  • Neuropsychologist
  • Psychiatrist
  • Other treating professional qualified to treat mental health conditions

* 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.

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.