MICA supports the use of Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) on campus by students as a reasonable accommodation specifically to give students with documented disabilities an equal opportunity to use and enjoy College housing in accordance with Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (Fair Housing Act). Any questions about the use of ESAs should be directed to the Learning Resource Center (LRC) at (410) 225-2416 or LRC@mica.edu.
Request and Documentation
A student wishing to bring an ESA to College housing will need to meet with a Learning Resource Center (LRC) staff member as well as complete and submit a request for disability accommodation form along with all required documentation. ESA documentation should include the following:
- Diagnostic statement identifying the nature and extent of the impairment and how the diagnosis is supported by the criteria set forth in the DSM-5.
- Detailed description of the current functional impact of the impairment without any mitigating treatment. Describe how the impairment limits one or more major life activities.
- Description of the expected progression or stability of the impact of the impairment over time.
- Evidence of a direct relationship between the disability and the assistance the animal provides. How does the animal’s support alleviate at least one of the identified effects of the existing disability?
- Evidence that the animal is necessary to afford the student an equal opportunity to use and enjoy MICA housing.
Documentation should be on official letterhead and signed by a licensed professional. The professional must have comprehensive training in the differential diagnosis of mental disorders and direct experience in diagnosis and treatment of college students. Qualified diagnosing professionals would include licensed psychologists or neuro-psychologists, psychiatrists, licensed clinical social workers, or other professionals with such training and expertise in the diagnosis of mental disorders.
A student should make a request for an ESA as a disability accommodation and provide the required documentation as soon as possible in advance of moving into College housing. If the request and required documentation are received fewer than sixty (60) days before the individual intends to move into College housing, MICA cannot guarantee that it will be able to process the request and make arrangements to meet the student’s accommodation needs, if approved, during the first academic term following the request. If the need for the accommodation arises when a student already resides in College housing, the student should make the request and submit the required documentation as soon as possible; however, MICA cannot guarantee that it will be able to process the request and make arrangements to meet the student’s accommodation needs, if approved, during the term in which the request is received. In no case may a student bring the animal to campus pending the final decision on a request for accommodation, only after a request is approved and all paperwork requirements are met.
Emotional Support Animal (ESA): An ESA is a companion animal that provides therapeutic benefit to an individual with a documented disability. ESAs are not pets and they are not service animals. Unlike a service animal, the ESA is not individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability nor does the animal accompany a person with a disability at all times.
ESAs are ONLY approved to be on campus in and around a student’s campus residence. If a student wishes to have the ESA go other places on campus, separate approval must be sought from the MICA Office of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) under MICA’s Pet Policy. The Pet Policy is not administered by the LRC and any approved disability accommodation for an ESA does not apply to campus buildings other than housing. A student bringing an ESA to places on campus other than housing is expected to comply with all applicable provisions of the MICA Pet Policy and EHS registration process.
Requirements and Responsibilities to Implement ESA Approval
A student approved to bring an ESA into College housing will need to provide/complete the following before the ESA is brought to campus: (1) submit a signed and completed Veterinarian Verification Form from the animal’s treating veterinarian confirming that the animal is up to date on all required and recommended vaccinations, is in good health, and is free from diseases or conditions communicable to humans; (2) meet with LRC staff to sign an official disability accommodation letter; and (3) meet with Residence Life staff to sign an Emotional Support Animal Agreement, specifying and agreeing to all details required by MICA regarding the student’s responsibilities for care and control of the ESA, conditions of care and supervision, the specific housing areas in which the ESA will be allowed, student responsibility for property damage or personal injury caused by the ESA, circumstances justifying removal of the ESA, and other MICA conditions and student responsibilities associated with the presence of the ESA in campus housing.
The student will need to contact the LRC to have the ESA accommodation reviewed for re-approval not less than 2 weeks prior to the housing selection process for each successive academic year. This process will necessitate a current Veterinarian Verification Form – the student should schedule the vet visit well in advance of the 2 week time frame for re-approval or the re-approval may be delayed.
Removal of ESA
The student must effectively control the ESA at all times. The ESA cannot pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others. If the student cannot effectively control the ESA or if it poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others, the approval to keep that particular animal in College Housing will be rescinded until such time that the problem is rectified, and if not rectified, approval will be permanently rescinded.