Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals

Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals Policy

This policy applies to service and emotional support animals that may be used by individuals with disabilities at Saint Mary’s College. 

Service Animals

A Service Animal refers to a dog or miniature horse that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the person's disability. The provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship does not constitute work or tasks for the purpose of this definition. Service dogs are permitted to accompany people with disabilities in all areas of Saint Mary’s College’s facilities with very few exceptions. Although students with service dogs are not required to register with Student Disability Services, the College encourages students to contact Student Disability Services in Filippi Academic Hall 190, 925-631-4358 to learn what other services may be available to them.

Emotional Support Animals

An Emotional Support Animal (ESA) is an animal that provides necessary emotional support to an individual with a mental or psychiatric disability that alleviates one or more identified symptoms or an individual's disability, but which are not considered Service Animals under the ADAAA and the Saint Mary’s College Service Animal Policy.  

The question in determining if an Emotional Support Animal will be allowed in College housing is whether or not the Emotional Support Animal is necessary because of the individual’s disability to afford the individual an equal opportunity to use and enjoy College housing and its presence in College housing is reasonable.  However, even if the individual with a disability establishes necessity for an Emotional Support Animal and it is allowed in College housing, an Emotional Support Animal is not permitted in other areas of the College such as dining facilities, libraries, academic buildings, athletic building and facilities, classrooms, labs, individual centers, lounges, etc.

Requests to bring an emotional support animal on campus and in Campus Housing must be made directly to Student Disability Services and should be made 30 days prior to move in.  Contact SDS at 925-631-4358 to initiate the request and receive the appropriate forms for student and their diagnosing professional to complete and return for evaluation of the request.  Reliable documentation from a treating doctor or licensed mental health counselor will be requested by SDS as part of the review.

Responsibilities of People with Disabilities Using Service or Emotional Support Animals

Saint Mary’s College is not responsible for the care or supervision of service or emotional support animals. The individual with the animal is responsible for the cost, care, and supervision of service or the animal, including:

  • compliance with any laws pertaining to animal licensing, vaccination, and owner identification;
  • keeping the animal under control and taking effective action if it becomes out of control;
  • feeding, walking, and providing ordinary care of the animal and the surrounding area; and
  • appropriately disposing of the animal’s waste.

Animal waste disposal via College plumbing is prohibited. Campus Housing will provide guidance on where to appropriately dispose of animal waste.

Saint Mary’s College will not require any surcharges or fees for service or emotional support animals. However, the owner may be charged for damage caused by a service or ESA to the same extent that Saint Mary’s College would normally charge a person for the damage they cause.

People with disabilities and their service or assistance animals must comply with the same College rules regarding noise, safety, disruption, and cleanliness as people without disabilities.

Exceptions and Exclusions

Saint Mary’s College may pose some restrictions on, and may even exclude a service or emotional support animal in certain instances. Reasons an animal may be excluded from an area include but are not limited to:

  • it is out of control and effective action is not taken to control it.
  • it is not housebroken (or in the case of an emotional support animal that deposits waste in a designated cage or litter box, the owner fails to clean such cage or box such that the cleanliness of the room is not maintained);
  • it poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others that cannot be mitigated by reasonable modifications of policies, practices, or procedures, or the provision of auxiliary aids or services.

In the event that restriction or removal of a service or emotional support animal is determined to be necessary, the person with a disability will still be given the opportunity to participate in the service, program, or activity without having the service or emotional support animal present.

If you have a disability that may be affected by the presence of animals, please contact Student Disability Services in Filippi Academic Hall 190, 925-631-4358. Saint Mary’s College is committed to ensuring that the needs of all people with disabilities are met and will determine how to resolve any conflicts or problems as expeditiously as possible. 

Guide and Hearing Trainees

California law allows animals that are being trained to be dog guides for the blind, hearing assistance dogs, or assistance animals for persons with physical impairments to access Saint Mary’s College facilities.