Assistance Animal Policy

Agnes Scott College is committed to providing reasonable and appropriate accommodations for qualified students with disabilities.  The College complies with Section 504 of the Rehabiliation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) and the Fair Housing Act (FHA).  Agnes Scott College permits Assistance Animals (often referred to as Emotional Support Animals) in campus residential housing as a reasonable accommodation once the student has met the guidelines under which approval of an assistance animal is determined,  and the procedure for requesting housing accommodations has been completed and approved.   Please note that if you are found responsible for having an assistance animal without approval, you are no longer eligible.

Assistance Animal and other definitions

“Assistance Animals” are animals that provide assistance or emotional support which alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person’s disability.  For animals to be designed as Assistance Animals, students are required to demonstrate that their animal is a reasonable accommodation for an emotional or mental health disability (defined as an impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities).  Demonstrating this need requires documentation from a treating medical or mental health provider (not related to the student) certifying that the Emotional Support Animal is part of a prescribed treatment plan for the disabling condition and alleviates symptoms or effects of a disability. Assistance Animals may be considered for living in the student’s assigned living space; however, they are not permitted in other areas of the College (e.g., McCain Library, academic buildings, classrooms, labs, Alston Student Center, Evans Dining, kitchen areas, public bathrooms, etc.). 

“Service Animals” are dogs or miniature horses that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability.  Service animals are permitted nearly everywhere on campus.  Where it is not readily apparent that an animal is a service animal as defined by the ADA, the College may ask whether the animal is required because of a disability, and what work or task the animal has been trained to perform.  Animals whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals. 

A “Pet” is an animal kept for ordinary use and companionship.  A pet is not considered an Assistance Animal or a Service Animal and is not covered by this policy.  On-campus residents are not permitted to keep pets, other than fish, on college property or in college housing.

An “Approved Animal” is a Service or Assistance Animal that has been granted as a reasonable accommodation under this policy.

An “Owner” is the student who has requested an accommodation under this policy and has received approval to bring the “approved animal” on campus. 

Procedure for Requesting an Assistance Animal

Assistance Animals may not be brought into campus housing without express approval of college officials. The procedures for requesting Assistance Animals in college housing are as follows:

1. A student requesting permission to keep an Assistance Animal in college housing must make a formal request to the College’s Housing Accommodations Committee. To do so, the student should submit the Housing Accommodation Request Form and documentation of their disability to be reviewed by the Committee.  Documentation may be submitted via email to Rashad Morgan (rmorgan@agnesscott.edu), hand delivered to Buttrick Hall, Room G13 or faxed to (404-471-6083). The Housing Accommodations Committee meets at least once per semester to review requests for housing accommodations.  Requests for Assistance Animals as an accommodation are not guaranteed.  The following important dates for requesting housing accommodations are as follows:

Agnes Scott incoming first-year students: June 15th for the fall semester   

Agnes Scott Returning Students: March 1st for the fall semester; November 1st for the spring semester

While applications submitted after these dates will be accepted and considered, Agnes Scott cannot guarantee that it will be able to immediately meet applicants’ accommodation needs, including any needs that develop during the semester.  Agnes Scott College will make a good faith effort to accommodate student needs throughout the semester.    

2. Where it is not readily apparent that an animal is an Assistance Animal under the FHA, the College may require documentation of the need for an Assistance Animal. Documentation should generally include the following information:

Documentation must:

  • Be in the form of a letter or report from a therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist who is qualified to make the diagnosis and is currently treating you for the disability for which you are requesting an Emotional Support Animal.
  • The documentation must be on official letterhead and should be signed and dated within the last year.
  • Include a specific diagnosis, a statement of your current condition, the date and a summary of your most recent evaluation, and the expected duration of your condition.
  • State the current impact of (or functional limitations) imposed by the condition on your living situation.
  • Provide evidence the provider is currently treating you for the condition for which the accommodation is requested.
  • Explain how the condition relates to your request for an Emotional Support Animal. There must be a direct link established between the condition and your requested ESA.
  • Clearly state a recommendation for an ESA as part of your treatment plan.
  • Include possible alternatives if the requested accommodation is not available.

3. The Housing Accommodations Committee will review documentation and, if the Committee approves the request, will contact the student after a approval decision has been determined. A formal meeting may be arranged to review this policy with the student.  Students in violation of the protocol or policy are no longer eligible for an assistance animal.

The college may consider the following factors, among others, as evidence in determining whether the presence of the animal is reasonable or in the making of housing assignments for individuals with Assistance Animals:

  1. The animal's presence otherwise violates individuals' right to peace and quiet enjoyment;
  2. The animal is not housebroken or is unable to live with others in a reasonable manner;
  3. The animal's vaccinations are not up-to-date;
  4. 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
  5. The animal causes or has caused excessive damage to housing beyond reasonable wear and tear.
  6. The size of the animal

Agnes Scott College will not limit room assignments for individuals with Assistance Animals to any particular building or buildings because the individual needs an Assistance Animal because of a disability.

4. Upon approval of an Assistance Animal, residential building staff will be notified as appropriate.

5. Upon approval of an Assistance Animal, the student’s roommate(s) or suitemate(s) will be notified to solicit their acknowledgement of the approval, and notify them that the approved animal will be residing in shared assigned living space.

Emotional Support Animal Annual Renewal Process

Any approval for a specifically identified Emotional Support Animal on campus is only for the designated academic year and will need to be renewed annually.

Renewal Process Will Involve:

  1. A renewal of roommate/suitemate agreement contained within the policy.
  2. Student is responsible to submit any documentation that is not current with the new academic year. (Provider Documentation)
  3. Student is responsible to submit any documentation that is not current with the new academic year. (Updated Vet Records and DeKalb County Registration)
  4. In order to provide enough time for consideration, students should submit a renewal request at least thirty (30) days prior to the date on which the resident seeks to have the Emotional Support Animal in the residence hall.

Service Animals

Students using Service animals are not required to register with the Office of Accessible Education; however, you may be eligible for academic accommodations if you use a service animal.  Students using Service Animals are strongly encouraged to connect with the Office of Accessible by the established important dates to discuss various housing adjustments that may need to be made. 

Conflicting Health Conditions

Students with a medical condition affected by animals (e.g., respiratory diseases, asthma, severe allergies) are asked to contact the Office of Accessible Education  if they have a health or safety related concern about exposure to an Approved Animal.  Students presenting such concerns will be asked to provide medical documentation identifying the condition so the College can determine whether the medical condition requires accommodation when living in proximity to Service or Assistance Animals.

Assistance Animal Etiquette for Faculty, Staff, Students, and Other Members of the Agnes Scott Community:

Members of the Agnes Scott College community are NOT to: 

  1. Touch a Service or Assistance Animal unless invited to do so.
  2. Feed a Service or Assistance Animal.
  3. Deliberately startle a Service or Assistance Animal.
  4. Separate or to attempt to separate an owner from his or her Service or Assistance Animal.
  5. Inquire for details about the owner’s disabilities. The nature of a student’s disability is a private matter protected by law.