Service and Emotional Support Animal Policy


Service & Emotional Support Animal Policy


Saint Mary’s College of California (“SMC”) recognizes the importance of Service and Assistance Animals. The term “Assistance Animal” is distinct from the term “Service Animal” and the two are not treated the same under the law or this policy. Additionally, the term “Emotional Support Animal,” used throughout this Policy and at SMC, is used synonymously with the term “Assistance Animal.”. This Policy may be amended by SMC from time to time. 


Assistance Animal: An Emotional Support Animal.

Service Animal: Means any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including but not limited to, performing services such as minimal protection work, rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, or fetching dropped items. This definition includes services for individuals whose disability may include but is not limited to physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual or other mental disability. A Service Animal has the capacity to recognize a situation and respond to it. The term “Service Animal” in this Policy is intended to be used in a manner consistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as amended and consistent with California law.

Emotional Support Animal: In the context of housing accommodations, this term means an animal that is used by a person having a disability to alleviate a symptom of the disability. In the context of employment accommodations, this term means an animal that is used by a person having a disability or medical condition to alleviate a symptom of the disability or medical condition. Under applicable state and federal law, various terms may be used in a manner equivalent or substantially similar to Emotional Support Animal. Other terms used under applicable law, which may include but are not limited to “support animal,” “comfort animal,” or “therapy animal,” shall be interpreted to mean Emotional Support Animal under this Policy. Emotional Support Animals need not have any particular service training as the mere presence of the animal positively affects the disability. In addition, although Emotional Support Animals are often dogs, this Policy is not limited to dogs and may include other animals.


Statement of Policy

SMC is committed to accommodating individuals with disabilities. Consistent with its legal obligations, SMC will accommodate students and other individuals with disabilities by permitting the use of Service Animals on campus and in all areas of campus (with limited exception) to facilitate their full-participation and equal access to the College’s programs and activities. SMC is also committed to accommodating individuals with a medical need or disability to maintain Emotional Support Animals in the individual’s campus work space if an employee of the College. Finally, SMC is committed to accommodating individuals with a disability to maintain Emotional Support Animals in residential facilities. Accommodations for Service Animals are addressed differently than accommodation requests for Emotional Support Animals as the legal requirements are different.

The Office of Student Disability Services  (“SDS”) collaborates with individuals, faculty, and staff to ensure that individuals with disabilities have equal access to all SMC programs and activities. All requests for emotional support animals need to be made in advance of bringing the animal to campus through the Student Disability Services office or, in the context of workplace accommodations, the Human Resources office. Requests for accommodations will be evaluated consistent with applicable legal requirements.

Approved accommodations involving Emotional Support Animals will be limited on campus to the individual’s residence room or, if an employee of SMC, the individual’s workspace

All animals, inclusive of Service and Emotional Support Animals, may be prohibited from the campus, including but not limited to office spaces and residential facilities, if 1) the animal is out of control and effective remedial action is not taken to maintain control, 2) the animal is not housebroken, or 3) the animal poses a direct threat of harm or substantial property damage.

Relationship to SMC’s Pet Policy

SMC has a campus-wide Pet Policy that, with limited exception, prohibits pets on campus. Service Animals are not considered “pets” and therefore the general prohibition of pets does not apply to these animals. Notwithstanding the terms of the Pet Policy, under certain circumstances and by express written agreement, pets may be allowed on campus. Individuals who maintain approved pets are expected to comply with a uniform set of rules related to the maintenance of their animal on campus. To the extent not inconsistent with an individual’s accommodation or inconsistent with state and federal law concerning the accommodation of individuals with Service Animals, the uniform rules for animals maintained on campus shall be followed by all members of the campus community who have authorized animals on campus. Exceptions to abiding by individual rules in the uniform rules by individuals with Service Animals may be made by the 504 Coordinator where compliance with the particular rule is contrary to applicable law (e.g., SMC may not charge an individual with a Service Animal a deposit or other pet or animal fee, but it may charge an individual for the cost of cleaning or fixing damage to campus property). If the individual is an employee and seeking an exception to a rule as it may apply to a workplace accommodation, such exceptions must be reviewed by Human Resources as a part of the interactive accommodation process.


To request an emotional support animal, contact Student Disability Services at or at (925) 631-4358.  Students will need to apply for Disability Services housing accommodations through the standard accommodation request process and also have a diagnosing professional with which the student has an on-going relationship provide additional documentation verifying the animal is part of the student's treatment plan.  Contact the Disability Services office for the appropriate forms.

Requests are reviewed 2 times a year. Requests received after the term meeting will be evaluated for the future term.  Any requests for an exception to the established deadlines will be made on an individual basis. 

  • For Fall term, requests will be reviewed in March, at the same time other housing accommodation requests are made. 

  • For Spring term, requests will be reviewed in January.

Requests MUST go through all proper steps and be approved in writing by the Student Disability Services Director before any animal is brought on campus as an emotional support animal.  Current vaccinations, animal registration if applicable and roommate/suitemate notification will also be required.