Emotional Support/Comfort Animal

Click here to download the Emotional Support Animal Request Form.

  1. An emotional support/comfort animal is not a service animal or a therapy animal, and an emotional support/comfort animal need not have specialized training.

  2. An emotional support/comfort animal may not reside in Housing and Residence Education Facilities without the approval of authorized University Officials.

  3. A student requesting permission to have an emotional support/comfort animal in his or her on-campus housing must provide the NOEL Center for Disability Resources with appropriate documentation 60 days prior to the start of the semester in which they are enrolling to ensure sufficient time to review all pertinent information. Formal student requests may be accepted and reviewed after this date, but Gardner-Webb University cannot guarantee that it will be able to meet late applicants’ accommodation needs, including any needs that develop throughout the semester.

  4. The NOEL Center for Disability Resources requires such advance notice in order to gather, review, and verify the necessary documentation, which includes but is not limited to: verification of a disability, the determination of any conflicting disabilities in the immediate vicinity where the animal will be housed, and verification of all vaccinations and the health of the animal including all the necessary licensing. If documentation is immediately available, the time for the determination process may be shortened.

  5. Documentation of the need for an emotional support/comfort animal should include a signed letter, on professional letterhead, from the person’s mental healthcare specialist or licensed therapist. The provider or therapist should be familiar with the professional literature concerning the assistive and/or therapeutic benefits of emotional support/comfort animals for people with disabilities. At a minimum, the letter should include the following items:
    • The provider’s diagnosis of the person’s condition.
    • A clear description of the current impact and functional limitations resulting from the disability.
    • The provider’s confirmation that the emotional support/comfort animal has been prescribed for treatment purposes and is necessary to help alleviate symptoms associated with the person’s condition.
    • The provider’s description of the service(s) that the animal will provide.
    • All supporting documentation must be current (no older than 6 months).
    • Any additional rationale or statement the University may reasonably need to understand the basis for the professional opinion.

  6. The NOEL Program for Disability Resources Staff will review documentation, and if the NOEL Center for Disability Resources Staff determines that a qualifying disability exists, the NOEL Center for Disability Resources Staff will arrange a meeting with appropriate Student Development and other University representatives and the person requesting that an emotional support/comfort animal be housed in Housing and Residence Education Facilities.

  7. This policy will be carefully reviewed with the person at that time and an interactive dialogue will take place to determine whether or not the animal is a reasonable accommodation considering alternative accommodations and the impact of the animal on the Housing and Residence Education Program.

  8. The effect on others in Housing and Residence Education Facilities must be considered, including the potential effect on individuals with allergies to animal hair or dander, as well as the willingness of roommates and floor mates to share their residential community with an animal. Depending on such considerations an alternative housing assignment may be considered.

  9. If approved, the student/owner/handler shall be responsible for any and all losses , liability, expenses, claims, costs, suits and damages of every kind (including damage to Housing and Residence Educations Facilities), nature and description arising from any property damage or personal injury caused by an emotional support/comfort animal. The student/owner/handler will have to sign documentation acknowledging such.

  10. If approved, the approval is valid for one academic year (including summer), and the need for an emotional support/comfort animal will be re-evaluated at the end of each academic year, and a new request completed for each year.

  11. If approved, the emotional support/comfort animal cannot remain in Housing and Residence Education Facilities when the student/owner/handler will be leaving Campus for extended periods including but not limited to: single nights away from campus, weekend trips, campus breaks, and/or campus holidays. Failure to adhere to this stipulation can result in the removal of the animal. The animal cannot be left in the care of other residential students in the residential facilities while the student/owner/handler is away from campus.

  12. Care for Emotional Support/Comfort Animals
    • All emotional support/comfort animals brought into Housing and Residence Education Facilities and grounds must be under the control of the student/owner/handler at all times. Additionally, all emotional support/comfort animals must be crated within the student/owner/handler’s assigned room when the student/owner/handler is not in the room with the animal. Campus Services, including but not limited to Housing and Residence Education Staff, Student Development Staff, and University Plant Operations Staff will be aware of any rooms that contain an emotional support/comfort animal. Plant Operations Staff will have the right to refrain from processing work orders without the resident present in an effort to ensure the safety of University Personnel. Additionally, reasonable effort to notify residents in residential facilities as to where an emotional support/comfort animal is located in an effort to assist anyone with medical conditions that are affected by animals (e.g., respiratory diseases, asthma, severe allergies) will take place.
    • Fecal matter and other animal waste deposited in Housing and Residence Education Facilities and/or University Grounds by an animal brought to campus must be removed immediately and disposed of properly by the student/owner/handler. The burden is on the student owner/handler to arrange for removal of fecal matter and/or other waste if he or she is personally unable to perform the task. Indoor animal waste, such as cat litter, must be placed in a sturdy plastic bag and securely tied up before being disposed of in outside trash dumpsters. Litter boxes should be placed on mats so that waste is not tracked onto flooring surfaces.
    • The student/owner/handler is responsible for the animal’s well-being including, but not limited to: regular feeding, watering, bathing, grooming, daily care and veterinary services.
    • In accordance with local ordinances and regulations the animal must be immunized against diseases common to that type of animal. Dogs must have current vaccination against rabies and wear a rabies vaccination tag, with supporting documentation submitted annually. Although not mandated, cats and other animals should have the normal shots required for a healthy animal. (Vaccination information for dogs must be submitted to the NOEL Center for Disability Resources before the dog will be permitted in Housing and Residence Education Facilities.)
    • Gardner-Webb University may place other reasonable conditions or restrictions on the animals depending on the nature and characteristics of the animal.

  13. Responsibilities to Housing and Residence Education Facilities
    • The student/owner/handler is responsible for assuring that the emotional support/comfort animal does not unduly interfere with the routine activities of the residential facility or cause difficulties for students who reside there.
    • The student/owner/handler is financially responsible for the actions of the emotional support/comfort animal including bodily injury or property damage. The owner’s responsibility includes but is not limited to: replacement of furniture, carpet, window, wall covering, and the like. The student/owner handler is expected to cover these costs at the time of repair and/or housing check-out.
    • The student/owner/handler is responsible for making sure that the emotional support/comfort animal does not disrupt the residential community or the roommate/suitemates living situation.
    • The student/owner/handler must properly secure the emotional support/comfort animal in a crate/cage when they are away from their room for class, meals, and campus activities.
    • The student/owner/handler is responsible for any expenses incurred for cleaning above and beyond a standard cleaning or for repairs to Housing and Residence Education Facilities that are assessed after the student/owner/handler and animal vacate the residence. Housing and Residence Education shall have the right to bill the student/owner/handler’s student account for unmet obligations. The minimum cleaning fee after the Student/Owner/Handler vacates their assigned residence will be approximately $50.00.
    • The student/owner/handler’s residence may be inspected for fleas, ticks, and other pests once per semester, or as determined necessary to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all residents and the emotional support/comfort animal. All inspections will be scheduled at least 24 hours in advance. If fleas, ticks, or other pests are detected through inspection, the impacted and surrounding units will be treated using an approved treatment method by a university-approved pest control services. The student/owner/handler will be billed for the expense of any pest treatment above and beyond standard pest management in residential facilities.
    • Should the emotional support/comfort animal be removed from the premises for any reason, the student/owner/handler is expected to fulfill his/her housing obligations within the parameters of the housing agreement and the Gardner-Webb University Student Handbook.

  14. Removal of Approved Emotional Support/Comfort Animal
    • The University may remove or require the removal of any animal that poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others, is not housebroken, does not have up-to-date health records, or otherwise disrupts the educational environment of the University and/or its Housing and Residence Education Facilities. Emotional support/comfort animals must not interfere with the quality of life of other residents within the Housing and Residence Education Facilities.
    • Animals found tethered, unattended, or abandoned may be humanely impounded in accordance with applicable laws and regulations. Animals that are tethered, unattended, or abandoned on campus should be reported to the University Police or Housing and Residence Education.
    • If any aspect or circumstance of the condition, health, or behavior of any animal on campus, including in Housing and Residence Education Facilities, is deemed by the University to be a threat to the health or safety of any member of the campus community or to any other animal, then that animal may be removed from campus in any manner deemed necessary by University officials. Such action may be taken even if the animal posing a threat would otherwise be permitted on campus under this Policy. Animals on campus whose condition, adversely impacts the health or safety of any member of the campus community or to any other animal should be reported to the University Police.
    • The student/owner/handler does not comply with their responsibilities in Housing and Residence Education Facilities as referenced in the emotional support/comfort animal policy.e. The animal assists the student/owner/handler in violating policies identified in the Gardner-Webb University Student Handbook, and/or the Housing Contract Agreement signed by the student/owner/handler when they apply for student housing at Gardner-Webb University.

  15. Policy Modifications/Addenda
    • Gardner-Webb University reserves the right to update/revise/modify this policy to ensure compliance with all necessary laws.
    • Gardner-Webb University reserves the right to update/revise/modify this policy to ensure the safety of the students that attend Gardner-Webb University, as well as to protect the faculty and staff of Gardner-Webb University from unnecessary harm and distress.