Service Animal and Emotional Support Animal Standard Operating Procedure - Student

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SOP #: 
STS 1007.002 PR
Executive Owner: 
Dean of Students
This is for all students at AdventHealth University.
The purpose is to outline the procedures for students to have service animals or emotional support animals on campus.

Service Animals

  • Students with disabilities who wish to bring a service animal to the AHU campus - including residential facilities, classrooms, and other University buildings - may do so without prior approval.
  • Students are strongly encouraged to reach out to the ADA/Section 504 Coordinator to ensure that their experience bringing the animal to campus is smooth.
  • Students with service animals who plan to live in residential facilities are also strongly encouraged to inform the Residence Life Staff that they plan to have a service animal living with them. Advance notice of a service animal in residential facilities may allow more flexibility in meeting a student’s needs.

Emotional Support Animals

  • Students who wish to bring an emotional support animal on campus or into residential facilities as an exception to the “no pet” policy must go through the reasonable accommodation process with the ADA/Section 504 Coordinator.
  • Accommodation requests will be accepted and considered at any time, requests should be made as far in advance as is reasonably possible before the student intends to bring the animal to campus in order to ensure timely consideration. 

  • An emotional support animal will not be allowed until formal approval has been received.

  • Upon receipt of a request for an emotional support animal, the ADA/Section 504 Coordinator will engage in communication with the student to determine if the use of the animal is a reasonable accommodation.  This is an individualized assessment and determinations will be made on a case-by-case basis. 

  • In order for an emotional support animal to be considered as a reasonable accommodation for a student with a disability, supportive documentation should be from a professional healthcare provider (on letterhead) and generally include the following information:

    • A current diagnostic statement that identifies the disability, including date of initial and most current diagnosis, any evaluations/testing that support the diagnosis, and a description of the functional limitation of the disability;
    • Information regarding the relationship between the disability and the relief the animal provides; and;
    • Information that demonstrates the animal is necessary in order for the student to use and enjoy his/her living arrangement or other University programs, services, or activities.
    • In addition, an owner with an approved emotional support animal as an accommodation for University housing must keep the animal within the owner’s residence. Unless otherwise approved through this process, students are not permitted to bring emotional support animals into classrooms, meetings, or other University facilities and events.

General Standards for the Removal of Service Animals or the Disapproval/Removal of Emotional Support Animals

Decisions to remove a service animal or disapprove/remove an emotional support animal will be made on a case-by-case basis, taking into account all surrounding circumstances.  However, the following general standards reflect reasons why an animal may be removed or disapproved:

  • The animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others.  For example, the animal displays vicious behavior towards others or has a serious illness.
  • The animal causes or would cause substantial physical damage to the property of the University and other community members, including but not limited to students, faculty, staff, and visitors.
  • The animal poses an undue financial and/or administrative burden to the University.
  • The animal would fundamentally alter the nature of the University’s housing and/or general operations.
  • The animal is out of control and the handler/owner does not take effective action to control it. If the out of control behavior happens repeatedly, the handler/owner may be prohibited from bringing the animal into University facilities until the handler/owner can demonstrate that he/she has taken significant steps to mitigate the behavior.
  • The animal is not housebroken.
  • The handler/owner does not abide by his/her responsibilities as outlined below in this procedure.
  • When an animal has been properly removed pursuant to this policy, AHU will work with the handler/owner to determine reasonable alternative opportunities to participate in the University’s services, programs, and activities without having the animal on the premises.

Responsibilities of Handlers/Owners

  • Laws, Ordinances, and Policies - Handlers/owners are responsible for complying with all state laws and local animal ordinances and are subject to all University policies and guidelines regarding Residence Life.
  • Proper Identification - All animals are subject to local licensing and registration requirements.
  • Health and Vaccination - Animals must be immunized against diseases common to that type of animal.  All vaccinations must be current.  These animals must wear a rabies vaccination tag and, in the case of emotional support animals, vaccination documentation must be provided to the ADA/Section 504 Coordinator prior to the animal being allowed into any residence hall.  
  • Caring for the Animal - The cost of care, arrangements, and responsibilities for the well-being of the animal are always the sole responsibility of the handler/owner.  AHU will accept no responsibility for the care of any animal covered by this policy.
    • Animals must be well groomed (residential facilities such as showers, tubs, sinks, and the like may not be used for this purpose).  Animals cannot be left unattended overnight at any time.  If the handler/owner must be away, they must either take the animal with them or make arrangements for the animal to be cared for elsewhere off campus. 
    • Animals cannot be confined to a vehicle, tethered or abandoned at any time.  Regular and routine cleaning of floors, kennels, cages, etc. must occur. The odor of an animal emanating from a residence hall room is not acceptable.
  • Keeping the Animal Under Control - The animal should be fully controlled by the handler/owner, including responding to voice and/or hand commands (if this can reasonably be expected of the type of animal at issue).
  • Being Responsible for Damage Caused by the Animal - Handlers/owners are personally responsible for any damage caused by their animals and must take appropriate precautions to prevent property damage.  The handler/owner will be required to pay for any damages caused by the animal.
    • An individual with an animal covered by this policy in a residence hall has an obligation to make sure that his/her residence is as clean and damage-free as the original standard, excepting normal wear and tear.  When the individual moves out of residential housing or no longer owns the animal, the residence will be assessed to determine if damage to University property or extraordinary cleaning costs are attributable to the animal. 
    • If so, the owner will be financially responsible for associated costs. The University maintains the right to conduct facility inspections for the purpose of assessing damage caused by the animal or otherwise determining the owner’s compliance with this policy.
  • Being Responsible for Waste - Cleaning up after the animal is the sole responsibility of the handler/owner and it must be done so immediately. In the event that the handler/owner is not physically able to clean up after the animal, it is then the responsibility of the handler/owner to hire someone capable of cleaning up after the animal.
  • Leash Requirements - Service animals should be on a leash at all times, unless the owner is unable to use a leash due to a disability or the use of the leash would interfere with the animal’s ability to perform its duties.  Emotional support animals must be on a leash or in a crate when leaving a residence hall but while still on University Housing property.
  • Observing Good Animal Etiquette - To the greatest extent possible, the handler/owner should ensure that the animal does not display behaviors or make noises that are disruptive or frightening to others, unless it is part of the service being provided to the handler (e.g., barking to alert the handler of danger).  The animal must possess friendly and sociable characteristics.
  • Other Conditions and Restrictions - In response to a particular situation, AHU reserves the right to impose other reasonable conditions or restrictions on the use of service animals and emotional support animals as necessary to ensure the health, safety, and reasonable enjoyment of University programs and activities by others.

Additional Matters


  • Upon approval of an emotional support animal, or if a student intends to have a service animal in residential housing, the student’s roommate(s) will be notified that the approved animal will be residing in shared living space.
  • All roommates must sign the Roommate Acknowledgement of Approved Animal in Residential Space agreement.  In the event that one or more roommates do not approve, the Director of University Housing will consult with all of the individuals involved and, based on the circumstances, determine the appropriate course of action, including a possible switch in housing assignments.
  • If at a point later in time there is a conflict between roommates regarding the animal that cannot be resolved amongst the individuals involved, the Director of University Housing should be contacted.  Appropriate parties will be consulted in order to reach a solution.

Animal No Longer Necessary - The ADA/Section 504 Coordinator should be notified when an animal covered by this policy will no longer be in residence or, in the case of emotional support animals, is no longer needed as an accommodation. Please note ESA approvals are for one academic year. Updated documentation must be provided annually.

Conflicting Disabilities - Some people may have allergic reactions, asthma, respiratory diseases, etc. to animals that are substantial enough to qualify as disabilities. AHU will consider the needs of both persons in meeting its obligations to reasonably accommodate all disabilities to resolve the problem as efficiently and expeditiously as possible. Students requesting allergy accommodations should contact the ADA/Section 504 Coordinator.

Concerns - Individuals with animals covered by this policy in residential housing should understand that issues may arise with other residents.  The individual with the animal should be receptive to these concerns and, if necessary, contact the Director of University Housing for assistance in resolving the situation.

Other residents with minor concerns about an animal in their residence hall may discuss the matter with the owner/handler or talk with a representative of the University Housing staff.  Major concerns should immediately be brought to the attention of the Director of University Housing.


Grievance Procedure Related to Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals

If the decision is made to deny a request for or remove an animal covered by this policy, the affected individual may file a formal written grievance with the Senior Vice President for Student Services.  The Senior Vice President for Student Services will review the situation, consult with appropriate personnel, make a final determination on the matter, and notify the student of the outcome in writing. This determination is not subject to further appeal. 


Reasonable Modifications to this Policy

Individuals wishing to request a modification or exception to this policy as a reasonable accommodation should contact the ADA/Section 504 Coordinator.


CommitteeDate VotedMinutes Code
President's CouncilMonday, June 18, 201818:63
President's CouncilMonday, November 11, 201919:146
Strategic and Operational PlanningWednesday, July 21, 202121.13
Approved by: 
Approval Date: 
Wednesday, July 21, 2021
Effective Date: 
Monday, June 18, 2018
Review Date: 
Monday, November 11, 2019
Wednesday, July 21, 2021
Monday, October 9, 2023