Emotional Support Animal Policy and Procedures

SVSU is committed to complying with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act as amended by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADA), the Fair Housing Act and any other applicable county, state and federal regulations that prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability. SVSU believes it is responsible for providing safe, healthy housing to all students living in University Housing. SVSU is also committed to providing equal access to University Housing for those students with documented disabilities. The following are the Emotional Support Animal Policies and Procedures that must be followed to assure compliance between the Office of Accessibility Resources and Accommodations (ARA), Residential Life, Housing, and the owner/student and their ESA. Determinations are based on documentation provided for both the student and the ESA to allow an ESA to be brought into University housing. Each determination will be decided on a case by case basis. 

Reptiles, Apes and animals which could be unmitigated pathways for zoonotic diseases (like hedgehogs and rats) are not allowed as ESAs at SVSU.


Clean Bill Certificate (374KB)


According to Fair Housing Act (FHA), an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) is, “an animal of any species, the use of which is supported by a qualified physician, psychiatrist or other mental health professional based upon a disability-related need. An ESA does not have to be trained to perform any particular task. ESAs do not qualify as service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but they may be permitted as reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities under the Fair Housing Act.”

ESAs should be well-behaved animals that are always under the complete control of the owner/student in the residence and outside when toileting. Such animals must be domesticated species.

Illegal animals and Reptiles, Apes or any other animal which could be unmitigated pathways for zoonotic diseases (like hedgehogs and rats) are not allowed as ESAs at SVSU.

The student who is requesting the accommodation and has received approval to bring their ESA to campus.

An animal that is permitted in designated areas of residential communities as a reasonable accommodation.

A domestic or trained animal kept for companionship and pleasure.

Dwellings owned and operated by the university with the express intent to house students. At SVSU, Housing Operations is the department which oversees University Housing.

A comprehensive program that facilitates the experience of living "on campus" in a residence hall. At SVSU, Residential Life is the department which oversees this experience.

According to the ADA, a documented disability is, “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity. This includes people who have a record of such an impairment, even if they do not currently have a disability. It also includes individuals who do not have a disability but are regarded as having a disability.”


Emotional Support Animals are held to a higher standard at SVSU due to their interactions within the public campus environment. 

SVSU Mandates:

  1. The ESA must not pose a direct threat to the health and safety of members of the campus community. Additionally, the ESA must not cause property damage or alter university operations.
  2. The ESA's behavior and noise must comply with the same policies required of students as discussed in the Resident Student Handbook.
  3. The owner/student is responsible for the actions of the ESA under all circumstances.


Emotional Support Animals are considered SVSU accommodations allowed to an owner/student and, as such, should be treated as the owner/student's responsibility.

SVSU Mandates:

  1. SVSU does not require an owner/student to pay an ESA deposit.
  2. The owner/student may be charged for any damage to their room caused by their ESA beyond reasonable wear and tear.
  3. The owner/student’s room may be inspected for fleas, ticks or other pests. Should fleas, ticks or other pests be detected, the owner/student will be responsible for university-approved pest control service and will be billed accordingly. The owner/student will also be responsible to have their ESA treated for any infestation.
  4. Any costs incurred because of actions by the ESA, including bodily injury, property damage and/or non-standard cleaning will be the responsibility of the owner/student and will be billed accordingly.


The ESA Housing Policy specifically addresses what standards and guidelines must be maintained in order for ESAs to inhabit SVSU housing.

SVSU Mandates:

  1. Residential students are not allowed to have pets in University Housing, except for non-carnivorous fish contained in no more than a 10-gallon tank.
  2. An animal that is an Approved ESA is allowed only in the owner/student’s room and must be crated, caged or contained when the owner/student is not home. Such animals are not allowed in academic and administrative buildings, university food preparation and service areas, classrooms, lounges, etc.
  3. On or before May 1st, owner/students who have received approval for an ESA must renew their ESA permit with the Office of Accessibility Resources and Accommodations, this includes providing proof that the ESA has received all applicable vaccinations, is appropriately licensed, has been spayed or neutered (if relevant), and the Veterinarian’s Certificate and Checklist that the ESA can safely live on campus.
  4. After the May 1st deadline, the owner/student will be required to move to receive a new housing assignment should the ESA conflict with a roommate’s documented physical or mental inability to live with an animal.

Approval Process to Bring an ESA Into University Housing

The owner/student will register with ARA prior to bringing their animal to campus. The registration, called AIMS, can be found on the top right corner of the ARA webpage.

Using the Emotional Support Animal form, the owner/student must provide ARA with documentation from a state-licensed physician, psychiatrist, social worker or other mental health professional specifying the ESA provides emotional support which alleviates one or more of the identified symptoms or effects of an existing diagnosis. The Emotional Support Animal form can be found below.

In addition to having the Emotional Support Animal form completed and uploaded, the owner/student must also secure the following documentation and upload it to their AIMS profile.  This documentation includes:

  1. An immunization record that demonstrates the ESA has completed the appropriate course of medication specific to that animal, including the rabies vaccine.
  2. Proof that the animal has a state or a county approved license.
    1. State law requires that all dogs over four months of age must be vaccinated against rabies and licensed through the county.
    2. A Bay County ordinance requires that all cats over four months of age be vaccinated against rabies and licensed through the county. The receipt from Bay County for the License is the required documentation*
  3. An annual clean bill of health from a licensed veterinarian and the checklist.

*The Bay County Treasurer’s Office states that since the zip code for Saginaw Valley State University is a Bay County zip code, all licensing laws for Bay County are applicable to any cat living in University Housing.

Once all of the owner/student's documentation has been uploaded, they should email us at accessibility@svsu.edu. 


Upon receiving the owner/student's email, ARA will look over the uploaded material to decide whether the appropriate documentation is present.  If not, we will contact them via email and clarify any problem. 

If the owner/student's documentation is appropriate, we will contact them via email to tell them that the next step is to contact Housing to register their ESA and obtain a Housing Permit.

Each year on or before the first of May, this Housing permit must be renewed. This renewal is done by the owner/student providing ARA with recent proof that their ESA has received all applicable vaccinations, is appropriately licensed and has been spayed or neutered (if relevant). This proof is in the form of a completed Certificate of Health and Veterinarian’s Checklist verifying that the ESA can safely live on campus.  Once this has been reviewed by the ARA staff, the owner/student will again be told to contact the Housing Office to get a new permit.

Emotional Support Animal Form
Clean Bill Certificate

Responsibilities of the Owner/Student

The ESA should be housed in the owner/student’s room except when taking the ESA outside to relieve itself or for exercise.

The ESA must always be under the control of the owner/student. 

When the owner/student is not in their dorm room, the ESA must be crated or caged. An ESA is not a pet to roommates/suitemates.

The ESA cannot be left overnight in the care of someone else. If the owner/student intends to be out all night, the ESA must accompany them.

The owner/student must give Residential Life contact information for someone outside of the university community who can collect the ESA should the owner/student be incapacitated.

The owner/student is responsible for providing food and care for the ESA.

ESA food should be kept in a closed container within the confines of the owner/student’s room. Open bags of food attract bugs and are not permissible.

University personnel is not responsible for evacuating the ESA in the case of an emergency.

If the ESA becomes sick and vomits or becomes incontinent, the owner/student must clean up the vomit and waste immediately. University personnel is not responsible for cleaning up after the ESA.

The ESA must be housebroken or housed in a species-appropriate habitat. Pee pads are not permitted in University Housing.

The owner/student is responsible for managing all cleaning and grooming tasks related to the ESA. This includes any fur, waste, litter and bedding. The ESA cannot be bathed or groomed in University Housing facilities. 

If the ESA uses a litter box, the owner/student must place a mat under the litter box to prevent spillage onto university carpeting.

The owners/students must keep all animal related odors to reasonable standards.

Owners/students whose ESAs are to be toileted outside are responsible for removing any waste and disposing of the waste properly.

In accordance with veterinary standards, ESAs are required to be spayed or neutered prior to coming to campus.


Ann Coburn-Collins, Director of Academic Support Programs
Wickes 260
(989) 964-7000

Shawn Wilson, Associate Director of Accessibility Resources and Accommodations
Wickes 260
(989) 964-7000

Debbi Abeare-Jacobs, Administrative Secretary
Wickes 260
(989) 964-7000