Georgetown College Policy on Reasonable Accommodations regarding Emotional Support Animals in Campus Housing

As a general rule, Georgetown College prohibits individuals from having animals (with the exclusion of fish) in any type of college housing and other campus facilities. However, the College is committed to allowing individuals with disabilities the use of a Service Animal (as defined by Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act) on campus to facilitate their full-participation and equal access to the College’s programs and activities. The College will also consider a request by an individual with a disability for a reasonable accommodation from this prohibition to allow an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) that is necessary because of a disability and reasonable. An ESA is defined as any animal that provides well-being, comfort, aid, or emotional support that alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person’s disability through companionship, non-judgmental positive regard, affection, and close physical proximity. ESAs are not considered Service Animals under the ADA. In accordance with this accommodation, Georgetown College follows the Housing and Urban Development’s Fair Housing Act. Georgetown College reserves the right to amend this policy at any time as circumstances require.

*However, no ESA may be kept in College housing at any time prior to the individual receiving approval for his/her reasonable accommodation request.

Procedures for Requesting an ESA on Campus

A student wishing to request an ESA should follow Georgetown College’s procedures for requesting a housing accommodation, which can be found in the Student Handbook. The College may require a statement from a reliable third party indicating that the student has a disability and that the animal would provide emotional support or other assistance that would ameliorate one or more of the symptoms of the disability.

A “reliable third party” is a professional who is familiar with the individual’s disability and the necessity for the requested accommodation. These include, but are not limited to, professionals who provide medical care, therapy, or counseling to persons with disabilities (e.g. physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers).

 Criteria for Determining if the Presence of the ESA is Reasonable

Disability Services will consult with Residence Life in order to determine, on a case-by-case basis, reasonable ESA accommodations in regards to Georgetown College’s housing options. The College may consider the criteria below in determining the making of reasonable accommodations and housing assignments for individuals with ESAs:

-size of animal (what type of residence best accommodates the Owner and animal)

– whether the animal’s presence would force another individual from individual housing (e.g. serious allergies)

-past behavioral history of the animal (e.g. aggressive, destructive, etc.)

-if the animal’s presence otherwise violates individuals’ right to peace and quiet enjoyment in their dwelling

-if the animal is not housebroken or is unable to live with others in a reasonable manner

-the animal’s vaccination records (e.g. are they current?)

-if the animal poses or has posed in the past a direct threat to the individual or others such as aggressive behavior                  towards or injuring the individual or others; or

-if the animal causes or has caused excessive damage to housing beyond reasonable wear and tear.

The request for an ESA may be denied and deemed unreasonable if the presence of the animal: (1) imposes an undue financial and/or administrative burden, (2) fundamentally alters the College’s housing policy, and/or (3) poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others or would cause substantial property damage to the property of others, including the College’s property.

ESA Owner Responsibilities

The “Owner” is defined as the student who has requested the accommodation and has received approval for their ESA to be on campus. Owners granted the accommodation of an ESA in their residence hall shall be subject to the following rules, in addition to any other college rules and regulations not specifically related to ESAs.

The Owner must:

  1. Keep the Animal in the Owner’s personal Residence Hall Unit. An ESA must be contained within the Owner’s privately assigned individual living space, except to the extent the Owner is taking the animal out for natural relief. When the ESA is outside of the Owner’s privately assigned living space, it must be in an animal carrier or controlled by leash or harness. The Owner must also ensure that the animal does not unduly interfere with the routine activities of the residence or cause difficulties for individuals who reside there.
  2. Keep the Animal under Control. The ESA must be properly restrained and otherwise under the control of the Owner at all times. When the Owner is not in the room (attending class or other activities), the ESA must be contained, as appropriate, so as to keep the animal safe and those who might enter the room when the Owner is not present. The ESA is not permitted to run loose across campus; if the animal is running loose across campus, it is subject to capture and confinement and immediate removal from College housing.
  3. Abide by Local Animal Laws and Ordinances. The Owner must abide by current city, county, and state ordinances, laws, and/or regulations pertaining to licensing, vaccination, and other requirements for animals. It is the Owner’s responsibility to know and understand these ordinances, laws, and regulations. For information regarding Scott County’s animal policies, please contact the Scott County Animal Humane Society. All vaccination records must be on record with Disability Services.
  4. Ensure the Animal is Well-Cared For. The Owner is required to ensure the well-being of the animal’s health. This includes maintaining appropriate routine/maintenance care and medications for different species. College personnel shall not be required to, and will not be held liable, to provide care or food for any ESA, including, but not limited to, removing the animal during emergency evacuation for events such as a fire alarm. ESAs may not be left overnight in campus housing to be cared for by any other student or individual other than the Owner. If the Owner is to be absent from campus housing overnight or longer, the ESA must accompany the Owner, or other appropriate accommodations must be made for the ESA to be off-campus while the Owner is away.
  5. Be responsible for Property Damage. The Owner is required to clean up after and properly dispose of the animal’s waste in a safe and sanitary manner. The Owner may be charged for any damage caused by his or her ESA beyond reasonable wear and tear to the same extent that other students are charged for damages beyond reasonable wear and tear. The Owner’s living accommodations may also be inspected for fleas, ticks, or other pests if necessary as a part of the College’s standard inspections. If fleas, ticks, or other pests are detected through inspection, the Owner will be billed for the expense of any pest treatment above and beyond standard pest management in the residence halls.
  6. Notify Disability Services if the ESA is no longer needed. The ESA is allowed in campus housing only as long as it is necessary because of the Owner’s disability. The Owner must notify Disability Services in writing if the ESA is no longer needed. To replace one animal with a different animal, the Owner must file a new request with Disability Services.
  7. Approval for an ESA is valid only for the school-year in which it is granted. Repeated requests for an ESA must occur every school-year.

Georgetown College will not ask for or require an individual with a disability to pay a fee or surcharge for an approved ESA.

Residence Life personnel will notify the Disability Services Coordinator of any policy violations that occur within the residences.

Removal of an ESA

Georgetown College may require the Owner to remove the ESA from campus housing if:

  1. The ESA poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others or causes substantial property damage to the property of others, including the College’s property;
  2. The presence of the ESA results in a fundamental alteration of a College program;
  3. The Owner does not comply with the Owner’s Responsibilities set forth above;
  4. The presence of the ESA creates an unmanageable disturbance or interference with the College community.

These determinations will be made on a case-by-case basis, upon consideration of the specific circumstances. The College will not base this determination on speculation or fear about the harm or damages an animal may cause. Any removal of the animal will be done in consultation with the Disability Services Coordinator.

Should the ESA be removed from the premises for any reason, the Owner is expected to fulfill his or her housing obligations for the remainder of the housing contract. Please see the Reasonable Housing Accommodation Policy for appeals.

Expectations of Faculty, Staff, Students, and Other Georgetown College Members

Members and visitors of the College/Campus Community shall not initiate contact with any ESA unless allowed by the Owner. ESAs are not allowed to be deliberately teased, startled, fed, or distracted by any member or visitor of the College/Campus Community. The disability of the Owner regarding the ESA is not to be asked of the Owner.

Acknowledgement and Release of Information Consent Form

By my signature below, I verify that I have read, understand, and will abide by the requirements outlined here and I agree to provide the additional information required to complete my request for an Emotional Support Animal.

I have read and now understand the “Policy on Reasonable Accommodations regarding Emotional Support Animals in Campus Housing” and I agree to abide by the requirements applicable to my circumstances as an Owner. I understand that if I fail to meet the requirements set forth in the Policy, Georgetown College has the right to remove my Emotional Support Animal and I will be nonetheless required to fulfill my housing, academic, and all other obligations for the remainder of the housing contract.

I further recognize that the presence of my Emotional Support Animal may be noticed by others visiting or residing in campus housing and agree that staff may acknowledge the presence of the animal and explain that under certain circumstance ESAs are permitted for persons with disabilities.

I also give permission to Disability Services to disclose to others directly impacted by the presence of my Emotional Support Animal (potential and/or actual roommate(s), Residence Life staff, the Director of Campus Life, Campus Safety, and Campus Housing and Maintenance) that I will be living with an animal as an accommodation. I understand that this information will be shared with the intent of preparing for the presence of the Emotional Support Animal and/or resolving any potential issues associated with the presence of the Emotional Support Animal. I will hold Georgetown College harmless from any liability for disclosing such information. Such information shall be limited to information related to the animal and shall not include information related to the Owner’s disability.