Emotional Support Animal Guidelines and Procedures

Winthrop University is committed to allowing students with disabilities the use of an approved emotional support animal (ESA), as appropriate, in campus housing to facilitate their full benefit of the residential experience. For students living on campus, the Fair Housing Act (FHA) provides that emotional support animals may be considered a reasonable accommodation in campus housing. The university recognizes the importance of emotional support animals to students with disabilities and has an established policy unique to this category of animals. 

Set forth below are specific requirements and guidelines concerning the appropriate use and protocols associated with emotional support animals for students.  Winthrop University reserves the right to amend this document as circumstances require. The goal is to find the proper balance that serves the student with a disability while protecting health, safety, living, and study conditions for all students.


Prior to bringing an emotional support animal to campus, students must contact the Office of Accessibility. The Office of Accessibility (OA) will engage in an interactive process with the student to review the current Winthrop policy on emotional support animals, to review appropriate documentation requirements, and to assess if the accommodation is reasonable.

Required documentation is due to the Office of Accessibility by May 15th for new students and February 1st for returning students. Applications submitted later that the deadline will be considered. Winthrop University will make a good faith effort to provide reasonable accommodations, but may not be able to guarantee that appropriate residential provisions will be completed within that semester.

The procedure to officially request an ESA is stated below:

Step 1. Gather appropriate ESA forms and guidelines from OA. These forms will be provided to students upon request. They are the:

Emotional Support Animal Disability Verification Form (ESADVF). This form will need to be completed in its entirety by the resident student’s treating specialist (licensed counselor, medical/psychiatric provider). This completed form provides OA with ESA specific information not typically found in specialist treatment notes, recommendation letters, and/or prescription notes. Please note that on-line certifications typically do not provide the information needed for OA to deem an ESA accommodation request reasonable. The ESADVF requests a statement of the justification and need for an emotional support animal.

ESA Personal Statement Form: this form will be completed by the resident student. It will provide OA with information about the animal the student intends to bring to campus and how that animal will assist the student with managing their disability.

ESA Owner's Responsibilities and Guidelines Form: this form will entail the rights and responsibilities of the resident student who has an ESA in the campus residential setting.

NOTE: Obtaining a signed certification from a veterinarian stating the animal’s current health record and vaccination history, and potential risk of zoonosis in the residential setting by the resident student is also required as part of the ESA accommodation process.

Step 2. Complete and submit the New Accommodation Request Form (online). Upload the following required documents to this form:

  • the completed ESADVF
  • the completed Personal Statement Form
  • the signed verification from the veterinarian
  • a picture of the animal

Step 3. OA will review the submitted information and will follow up with the student. The student will be asked to provide additional information if forms are not completed thoroughly or if the information submitted is not sufficient to determine if the request is reasonable. Alternatively, OA will ask the student to schedule an appointment if adequate information is provided.

Step 4
. The resident student must attend an OA appointment to discuss their request and review the ESA Owners Responsibilities and Guidelines.


Step 5. The Office of Accessibility staff will inform Residence Life via e-mail once the request for an emotional support animal is deemed “reasonable.”  The student and Residence Life staff can continue with the next steps in the process discussing available options for accessible housing.

Step 6. The resident student's roommate(s) and/or suitemate(s) (if applicable) will be contacted by the Department of Residence Life to solicit acknowledgement of their willingness to live with an animal. 


Note: If at least one roommate or suitemate disagrees with living with the animal AND the request for the animal came after the roommate and suitemates were assigned to the space, the animal owner may have to accept another housing assignment.

Step 7. Upon agreement of roommate(s) and/or suitemate(s) agreement to live with animal, Residence Life staff will update the student, typically via e-mail. The student will then be required to meet with the Residential Learning Coordinator (RLC) for their assigned residence hall to review the Emotional Support Animal Maintenance Agreement for the Residence Halls.

Note: At this meeting, the Owner is expected to provide proof of a preventative pest and parasite control program and appropriate vet documents showing the animal’s most recent vaccination history.

Step 8. A student may bring an ESA into university housing ONLY AFTER (1) the ESA request has been deemed reasonable by OA, (2) roommates and suitemates have agreed to living with the animal, and (3) the student has met with their RLC.