Emotional Support Animal
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, but which are not considered Service Animals under the ADAAA. Keystone College maintains a “no pets” policy in the residence halls. However, in accordance with Federal law (Fair Housing Amendments Act), the College will consider requests for accommodations to the housing policy to allow students experiencing significant mental health problems to keep an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) with them in-residence. Some ESAs are professionally trained, but in other cases, ESAs provide the necessary support to individuals with disabilities without any formal training or certification.
ESA requests must be made within 30 days before the Student intends to move into College housing, in order to allow for arrangements to be made for the ESA. This policy refers to the rules established for a student to bring one ESA into the residence setting. In general, only one animal may be allowed in an individual residence hall room, as well as in a residence hall unit.
The documentation provided for an ESA must come from a mental health practitioner in the state of Pennsylvania, or in the student’s home state. Documentation of your significant mental health impairment and the associated need for an ESA should come from a mental health provider who knows and understands your difficulties and can explain how the presence of the animal may help to alleviate your symptomology. Letters purchased from the internet for a set price rarely provide the information necessary to support an ESA request.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been asked to investigate websites that purport to provide documentation from a health care provider in support of requests for an ESA. The websites in question offer for sale documentation that is not reliable for purposes of determining whether an individual has a disability or disability-related need for an ESA because the website operators and health care professionals who consult with them lack the personal knowledge that is necessary to make such determinations.
Jaclyn Risboskin, B.A.
Learning Center Coordinator
Monday – Friday
8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Hours subject to change)
Monday – Thursday
8 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Miller Library - Offices 309 – 310
ESAs are not permitted on campus until the accommodation request has been made and approved. Students found with unauthorized animals in the residence hall will be subject to sanctions under the Student Code of Conduct.
It is important to note that the College may approve your request to have an ESA, but not approve the specific animal you were hoping to bring. The approval of a specific animal may be subject to a number of considerations including the age of the animal, the space needed to house the animal, the care/feeding requirements, and the risk of transmission of zoonotic diseases which may pose a threat to the general welfare of the communal living environment.
An ESA must remain only in the Student’s assigned bedroom in a residence hall or other dwelling unit, or common space (e.g., a living room or residential hall study space) associated with such bedroom, except to the extent that the individual is taking the animal out for natural relief. An ESA is not permitted in other areas of the College (e.g. dining facilities, library, academic buildings, athletic buildings and facilities, classrooms, labs, etc.). The ESA may not be left in the care of other residents. If the student leaves campus overnight, the ESA must be taken along.
Students bringing ESAs to campus are fully responsible for the animal’s behavior, and for any damage done. If the ESA is disruptive to the living environment for others (for example, barking or other loud noises, or significant odor from litter boxes or cages), or if there is damage done to college facilities, the ESA will need to be removed from the premises within 48 hours of notice being given. The student will be responsible for paying for property damage.
Steps to Make an ESA Request
Step 1: Review Keystone’s ESA policy
Step 3: Have a licensed health care provider (physician, psychology, psychiatrist, etc.) complete the Request for Information: Emotional Support Animal form. Have the licensed health care provider submit the form to the Office of Disability Services by email, mail, or fax:
Address: Keystone College
Attn: Office of Disability Services
One College Green
La Plume, PA 18440
Step 4: Complete the Proposed Emotional Support Animal Information. Please be sure to attach medical records from a veterinarian licensed in Pennsylvania or the student’s home state. This form will not be processed unless such documentation is attached.
Step 5: Set up an intake appointment with the Office of Disability Services using the link here. Appointments cannot be made until Steps 2, 3, and 4 have been completed.
If and when the ESA request has been approved, the Office of Disability Services will help the student set up a meeting with Resident Life staff to go over dorm rules and guidelines.
Keystone College may use up to 30 working days (starting the day documentation of the disability is received) in order to do its due diligence of gathering and verifying the necessary documentation for the student and determining eligibility. If documentation is immediately available and deemed sufficient, the time for the approval process may be shortened.
The Department of Justice/ADA rule defines “service animal” as a dog or any animal that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. All students who bring a service animal to campus are encouraged to register with the Office of Disability Services.
Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a service animal has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Some examples of such work or tasks include:
- Guiding people who are blind
- Alerting people who are deaf
- Pulling a wheelchair
- Alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure
Please Note: Service Animals that are not trained to perform tasks that mitigate the effects of a disability, including animals that are used purely for emotional support, comfort, therapeutic benefit, companionship, are not service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act as Amended (ADAA).
If you are requesting an emotional support animal (ESA), please look at our ESA policy.
Service animals must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered, unless these devices interfere with the service animal’s work or the individual’s disability prevents using these devices. In that case, the individual must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal, or other effective controls.
The service animal must be clean and in good health. Owners and/or users of service animals must abide by current ordinances/laws pertaining to licensing and vaccination requirements for service animals. It is the responsibility of the owner and/or user of the animal to know about these ordinances and laws. All owners and or users of dogs or service animals are responsible to clean up after and properly disposing of their animal’s waste.