Emotional Support Animals

CAPS does not provide documentation for emotional support animals (ESA's). Students who want to register an ESA first need to contact Student Disability Services (SDS). SDS will provide you with instruction on obtaining documentation for an ESA. Typically, this involves an assessment from a mental health provider in the community who is comfortable providing ESA documentaiton. CAPS does not have a list of providers who provide ESA documentation. 

Animals can be of great support to us, but it is also crucial to consider their well-being. Please consider these points before you proceed with obtaining an ESA:

  1. Where will the animal reside and will it have enough room?
  2. Opportunities for exercise?
  3. Substitute caretaker if you are away or for during-the-day respite?
  4. What will be the stresses on the animal?
  5. Cost? (obtaining, veterinary visits, obedience classes, food, toys, treats)
  6. Special needs?  (ex. some animals have allergies or special diet requirements)
  7. Choice of type/size of animal?  (ex. What is the energy level of its breed or type of animal?  What are the characteristics of the breed/animal?)
  8. Roommates?
  9. Exposure to other people?                                            
  10. TRAINING!! *
  11. Socialization with other animals.

*Prior to taking the animal home with you, speak to a trainer about assessing it’s personality for calmness.  As to training, plan to do at least basic obedience classes.

While the above topics are hopefully considered for all animals, even one that is “just a pet,” you are asking more from it as an ESA.  Therefore, you need to be especially sensitive to its needs.                                                  

Remember that ESAs do not have the same privileges as service animals.  ESAs are allowed in housing and on airplanes, both of which can ask to view your certification.  Example:  Landlords can request a copy of your paperwork.  ESAs are not legally allowed in restaurants, malls, etc.

Adapted from WKU Counseling Center