Emotional Support Animals (ESA) are a category of animals that provide necessary emotional support to an individual with a mental or psychiatric disability that alleviates one or more identified symptoms of an individual’s disability. Emotional Support Animals are not Service Animals and are not trained to provide support. Dogs and cats are commonly used as ESAs, but any animal may serve a person with a disability as an ESA.
An ESA is prescribed to an individual with a disability by a healthcare or mental health professional. An ESA does not assist a person with a disability with activities of daily living, nor does it accompany a person with a disability at all times.
Lynchburg College will consider a request by an individual with a disability for reasonable accommodation to allow an ESA that is necessary because of a mental health disability. Lynchburg College recognizes under the Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA) the importance of emotional support animals (ESA) which provide emotional support for individuals with disabilities. The FHAA assures that people with disabilities be allowed to have an ESA in the residence with them if the animal is necessary for the individual to have full benefit, enjoyment, and use of the residential facility. Lynchburg College is committed to allowing an ESA necessary to provide individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to use and enjoy college housing.
Lynchburg College will accept and consider requests for reasonable accommodation in college housing at any time. The individual making the request for an ESA should initiate the process of requesting an ESA as soon as practicably possible before moving into college housing. However, if the request for accommodation is made fewer than 60 days before the individual intends to move into college housing, Lynchburg College cannot guarantee that it will be able to meet the individual’s request for ESA during the first semester or term of occupancy. Consideration for applications made fewer than 60 days prior to term will apply only to situations with extenuating circumstances.
ESA may not be kept in college housing at any time prior to the individual receiving approval as a reasonable accommodation pursuant to this policy. ESA are only permitted in College housing and may not be present in other buildings on campus.
The procedure for requesting an ESA follows the general procedures set forth in the College Housing Reasonable Accommodations Policy (PDF) and the requirements set forth below. However, to the extent the requirements and procedures in this Policy conflict with the Reasonable Accommodation Policy, this policy shall control.
Approval of an ESA and approval of the particular animal requested by the student is determined on a case-by-case basis. Students must renew their application each academic year to have an ESA in college housing (updated documentation may be required) due to changing residential assignments and settings. Lynchburg College will accept and consider requests for reasonable accommodation in college housing at any time. The individual making the request for an ESA should complete the steps below as soon as practicably possible before moving into college housing. However, if the request for accommodation is made fewer than 60 days before the individual intends to move into college housing, Lynchburg College cannot guarantee that it will be able to meet the individual’s request for an ESA during the first semester or term of occupancy.
To seek approval for an Emotional Support Animal:
- Request an ESA through the Disability Services Coordinator (DSC), by email or by appointment.
- Review the Emotional Support Animal Residential Policy.
- Complete the Emotional Support Animal Request for Housing Accommodation.
- Documentation of Disability: The student will provide a completed ESA Provider Request for Information Form, available through the DSC. Other forms of documentation will be accepted, but additional necessary information not provided may be required.
- Appointment with DSC: The student will schedule and participate in an appointment with the DSC, during which the student’s request to have an ESA in college housing will be considered. The student will review the Emotional Support Animals Residential Policy with the DSC and complete the Emotional Support Animal Agreement and Release of Information Consent Form.
- Approved Accommodation: If the DSC determines the request for an ESA accommodation is approved:
- Animal Information: The Owner will complete the Emotional Support Animal Registration Form and submit to the DSC, including copies of appropriate vaccination documentation and current veterinary Health Certificate.
- Roommate Agreement: Where applicable, the Owner’s roommates, apartment mates or housemates will meet individually with the DSC and will review the Emotional Support Animals Residential Policy and complete the Roommate/Apartment Mate/Housemate Agreement Form.
- Review: The DSC and the Director of Residence Life will review the Owner’s request, information gathered in the interview, documentation and completed forms (and as applicable, Roommate/Apartment Mate/Housemate Agreement Form) for the ESA to determine if the request is reasonable and necessary for the Owner to use and enjoy college housing.
- Approved Animal and Housing: If the DSC and the Director of Residence Life determine the requested ESA accommodation is necessary and is not unreasonable:
- The DSC will schedule a meeting with the Director of Residence Life and the student owner. The policy and agreement as well as specific information pertaining to the approved ESA will be reviewed and the Owner will be given an approved move in date.
- The Resident Assistant for the living area, where the Owner/ESA will be notified of the ESA as an accommodation.
- Residence Life staff and Maintenance staff will be notified of the presence of the ESA as appropriate.
- Neighbors, where applicable in residence halls, will be notified the Owner will be living with an ESA as an accommodation.
- Should changes in housing assignment for the Owner or roommates be required, the Office of Residence Life and/or DSC will meet with the individuals and make arrangements for room assignment changes.
- The Owner may opt to use an ESA Notification Poster, provided by the DSC.
- Denial of Accommodation/Appeal:
- If Disability Services and the Director of Residence Life determine the request for an ESA accommodation is denied, Disability Services will contact the student and the Office of Residence Life in writing, within seven (7) business days of its determination.
- If the individual is unwilling to accept the denial, Disability Services will provide written notification to the individual and the Office of Residence Life of the denial, the reasons for the denial, and the right to appeal the decision, and the procedures for that appeals The notification shall be in writing and made within seven (7) business days of the notification from the individual of his/her unwillingness to accept any of the alternative accommodations offered or the determination that there are no alternative accommodations available.
- An individual may also use the grievance procedure provided under the general College antidiscrimination This grievance procedure can be found at: http://internal-public.lynchburg.edu/hr/HumanRightsPolicy.pdf
- All appeals are reviewed by the Lynchburg College ADA/Section 504 Compliance If the appeal is denied, Lynchburg College’s ADA/Section 504 Compliance Officer shall provide written notification of the denial to the individual and a written explanation with all of the reasons for the denial.
Julia R. Timmons
Disability Services Coordinator
1501 Lakeside Drive
Lynchburg, VA 24501
434.544.8687 or 434.544.8339