Emotional support animals: What you need to know before moving in



Daniel Records, Sr. Compliance Coordinator and ADA Coordinator for the Office of Civil Rights Compliance and Investigation, discusses emotional support animals on Tuesday at French Administration Building.

JACKEE SMITH, Evergreen reporter

The support and love animals provide us is not only comforting — for some people, it’s curing. Many people rely on emotional support animals (ESAs) to help with mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress and more.

That’s why it can be beneficial to bring your ESA to college.

There are steps ESA owners must take and rules to follow with one of these supportive animals on campus, said Daniel Records, WSU senior compliance coordinator and ADA coordinator.

It’s important to distinguish the difference between an ESA and a service animal. There are distinctions between an ESA and a service animal within the idea of training and their rights on campus, Records said.

“An ESA — just its mere presence — provides the benefit, but a service animal is actually doing something,” Records said.

People do not have to provide documentation for service animals on-hand. In fact, there are only two questions a public entity can ask about a service animal: “Is this animal required because of a disability?” and “What work has this animal been trained to perform?”

To bring an ESA into the residence halls, the student must provide a doctor’s note, Records said.

Students with a doctor’s note who are looking to complete the application process may visit access.wsu.edu.

ESAs can be any type of animal, but it’s important to remember they must be appropriate for a residence hall as large dogs and farm animals are prohibited.

ESAs are only allowed inside residence halls. They are only allowed into classrooms with specific accommodations, which can be arranged with the WSU Access Center. If the ESA is a dog, the owner can take them for walks but must clean up after them.

It’s important for students to discuss bringing in an ESA with their resident adviser.  While they are notified through the application process, students should be aware that other students in the residence hall could be allergic, and remember to practice courtesy, Records said.

If their roommate is allergic, it’s up to the RA and students to find a solution that works for everyone.

Students may file an application to bring an ESA to campus at any time during the school year. Once all paperwork is completed and submitted, the student will then work with Residence Life to find a way to make the situation work.

WSU does not charge a fee for having an ESA in a dorm, but any personal cost associated with the animal is the responsibility of the student, Records said.

There are scenarios where ESAs can be denied from living in the dorm. If they are a threat to others and show that they are physically violent to people or objects, they can be removed immediately, Records said.

If they are disruptive, such as barking a lot, it will be brought to the attention of the student, and it is their responsibility to fix the issue.

The Access Center website notes that animals are not allowed on campus without prior approval from the Access Center, as it is a violation of Residence Life and Housing policies, and will result in the animal being removed from campus and potential fines.