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Emotional Support Animal Information

Emotional Support Animal (ESA)

The UCA Disability Resource Center (DRC) provides reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities. Under the Fair Housing Act, an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) may be approved while living in on-campus housing on a case-by-case basis when there is a documented need.

Students residing in on-campus living requesting the ESA accommodation must complete a New Student Registration application with the DRC and schedule an appointment.

Submitting Documentation:

In addition to the student’s name and date of the documentation, documentation submitted on official letterhead from their health care or mental health qualified professional must have the following information:

  • Whether the patient has a physical or mental impairment,
  • Whether the patient’s impairment(s) substantially limit at least one major life activity or major bodily function, and
  • Whether the patient needs the animal(s) (because it provides therapeutic, emotional support to alleviate a symptom or effect of the disability of the patient/client, and not merely as a pet).

Students can either upload documentation to the DRC Student Registration form or fax documentation to our office at 501-450-5664.

If the documentation on official letterhead from a health care or mental health qualified professional is not readily available, students also have the option of providing an Emotional Support Animal Request Form (After opening up the form in your preferred program be sure to save the document before you start putting your information into the Form. This will prevent others from gaining access to your personal information) to their qualified professional.  This form must:

  • Be completed by a qualified professional.
  • Be completed as clearly and thoroughly as possible. Incomplete responses and illegible handwriting will require additional follow up that may delay the review process.
  • Be supplemented with any evaluation reports that may provide a more complete understanding of the student. Evaluative reports may include diagnostic reports such as psycho-educational or neuropsychological reports. Please do not provide case notes or rating scales without a narrative that explains the results.
  • Be submitted to the Disability Resource Center. All documentation will be held strictly confidential as a student record. This form may be released at the student’s request.

 ESA Committee Next Step Decision Processes:

Once sufficient documentation has been received by the DRC, the ESA Committee will meet and review each student request to determine accommodation approval.  The ESA Committee will make a decision within 30 calendar days as to on whether an accommodation will be granted.  Please see the information below on the types of decisions below:

Pending Decision Process: 

The ESA Committee may need additional information from the qualified professional who completed the form for clarification purposes.  An ESA Committee member will contact the qualified professional.  After receiving the updated information, the ESA Committee will move forward to either approve or deny the request.

Approval Decision Process:

Once the ESA Committee has approved the ESA request, the DRC representative to the ESA Committee will notify the student by phone and email.  The student is required to attend an Animal Housing Guidelines Review Meeting.  After review meeting, the student will complete all DRC ESA Requirements. The following requirements are to be completed at least 7 days before the animal moves into on-campus housing:

The UCA Housing and Residence Life Animal Housing Guidelines document includes important information on standards for approved animals, animal care & guidelines, cleaning and damage, animal liability, areas off limits to animals, removal of animal, conflicting disabilities/roommate information, and the complaint process.  This document also includes the Housing and Residence Life Registration Form and the Assumption of Liability Statement and Animal Agreement Form.  The following information below is also required:

  • Animal Registration
  • Rabies Vaccination Certificate or Shot Record with rabies vaccination included
  • Rabies Tag (depending on type of animal)
  • Current color picture of Animal

The  Service and Emotional Support Animal Roommate Agreement Form must be completed by each roommate and turned into Housing and Residence Life prior to the animal occupying the assigned space.  Responses on the roommate agreement form may result in a new room assignment for the student and their animal. If a new room assignment is required after housing has been filled for the academic year, students may experience a slight delay in receiving newly assigned living space.  Please be patient with Housing and Residence Life staff during this time as they seek to provide a suitable housing experience for you and your animal.

Denial Decision Process:

The ESA Committee may decide that a requested ESA is not necessary and/or reasonable under the FHA.  Once the ESA committee denies the request, this information will be communicated to the student by phone and email.  The student can choose to appeal the decision and provide additional information to the ESA Committee.  Upon receipt of the appeal, the ESA Committee will reconvene and review all of the relevant information and choose to either grant the appeal, modifying the initial decision, or deny the appeal and maintain the initial decision.  The ESA Committee’s decision shall be final.  If the ESA request is approved after the initial denial decision, the DRC representative will initiate the approval decision process.

Assistance Animals Complaint Form

The Assistance Animals Complaint Form is available to assist with reporting disruptive behavior in regards to a Service Animal or an Emotional Support Animal.  Once the form is completed and submitted, the ESA Committee will meet and make a decision based on the complaint and notify the complainant and offending party.