Skip to main content Skip to footer

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. 


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.”


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.

Dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.

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.
  2. The ESA must not cause property damage or alter university operations.
  3. The ESA's behavior and noise must comply with the same policies required of students as discussed in the Resident Student Handbook.
  4. The owner/student is responsible for the actions of the ESA under all circumstances.
  5. An ESA may be removed from University housing if its behavior does not meeting University requirements


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.
  5. The owner/student of the ESA, to the extent permitted by law, will defend, indemnify and hold SVSU harmless from any loss, claim or damage (including attorney fees) arising from the wrongful acts or omissions of the ESA.


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. Residential students must complete the ESA approval process each academic year with Housing Operations, renewal is not automatic. It is recommended students complete this approval process by June 1st, prior to the start of Room Selection.
  4. After June 1st, 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.
  5. The owner/student must notify Housing Operations in writing if the approved ESA is no longer needed or is no longer in residence.

Approval Process to Bring an ESA Into University Housing

The owner/student must provide the following information to Housing Operations via the submission form in the Housing Portal:

  • General animal information (type, breed, name, and photo)
  • Emergency Contact Information for someone outside of the University community who can collect the ESA should the owner/student be incapacitated or otherwise not available.
  • Proof that a dog has a state or county approved license (if applicable)
    • State law requires that all dogs over four months of age must be vaccinated against rabies and licensed through the county.


A signed letter, on professional letterhead, from the student's health provider must be sent to or faxed to 989-964-6095 stating:

  • The nature of the disabling condition or impairment (the student must have a disability);
  • The animal is necessary or required to afford the student with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling;
  • There is an identifiable relationship or nexus between the disability and the assistance the animal provides;
  • The type of animal;
  • The first date of contact and last date of contact with the student;
  • The license/certification number and state of licensure, address, phone, fax; and
  • Signature and date

A signed letter, on professional letterhead, from the student's licensed veterinarian must be sent to or faxed to 989-964-6095 stating:

  • The animal's name, breed, and age;
  • The date of annual examination (must be recent, within 6 months);
  • If the animal has a clean bill of health;
  • If the animal is up to date on vaccinations and list them out;
  • If the animal is pest free;
  • If the animal is spayed or neutered;
  • If the animal is house trained (if applicable);
  • If the animal is healthy;
  • The license/certification number, expiration date, and state of licensure, address, phone, fax; and
  • Signature and date

Requests to have an ESA in University housing are considered requests for accommodation and will be reviewed on an individual basis. The process typically takes between 7 to 21 days to approve and process all paperwork depending on the circumstances.

  • Owner/student's roommates will be notified of the newly approved ESA assigned to the unit.
  • Owner/Student will receive an electronic permit to be printed and displayed in unit. If students needs assistance printing permit they can request a copy from Housing Operations.
  • Authorized staff will be notified of the approved ESA.

If you disagree with the determination regarding your Emotional Support Animal accommodation, you may appeal the determination in writing to the ADA Coordinator or their designee within 30 days of this determination. Written appeals must be sent to Appeals should address one or more of the following factors used by the University to assess whether an Emotional Support Animal accommodation is reasonable:

(1) That the requested accommodation is necessary, such that there is an identifiable relationship between the requested accommodation and the student’s disability; and

(2) That the documentation provided to the University meets the basic requirements for approval; and

(3) That the accommodation would not impose an undue financial and administrative burden on the University or fundamentally alter the nature of the University’s operations.

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. 

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. An ESA is not a pet to roommates/suitemates.

The owner/student must give 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 are not responsible for locating any escaped animals or evacuating the ESA in the case of an emergency and are not, under any circumstance, liable for any loss or harm to the animal.

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.

Owner/student is responsible for regularly cleaning their room to avoid animal-related odors. The owner/student acknowledges than an animal in a residential space will create more of a mess/scent than it would within a house and are expected to clean their room more frequently including upon request by SVSU. Animal checks may be conducted throughout the academic year in order to ensure proper care of animals.

The ESA should 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.

Owners/students are responsible for removing and properly disposing of any of their ESA's waste both indoors and outdoors. All waste must be placed in a plastic bag and be disposed of in an outdoor dumpster.

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


Housing Operations
Curtiss 118
(989) 964-4255

Residential Life
Curtiss 114
(989) 964-4410

Dining Services
Curtiss Hall 122
(989) 964-4252