Assistance Animals

Assistance Animals in University Housing

MHU University Housing impacts a number of students with a variety of needs who must share common spaces without separate exits and entrances.  Therefore, students who wish to request either a Service Dog or Emotional Assistance Animal as an accommodation to live in University Housing must contact the Office of Disability Services in order to apply for a housing accommodation.  It is recommended that students apply for housing accommodations and submit supporting health care provider documentation as early as possible and preferably by June 1 for Fall Semester and November 1 for Spring Semester.  Student eligibility is determined through the Office of Disability Services; however, an Assistance Animal must also be approved and registered through Office of Residence Life before occupying university housing.  The Office of Residence Life may require up to 60 work days’ notice before allowing occupancy for the ESA since the health, safety, and needs of all residents must be considered.

Animals that do not have prior approval to occupy university housing are considered to be pets.  MHU Residential Life Policy states, “Because of health reasons, such as sanitation, allergy concerns, and consideration for others, pets are not allowed in the residence halls, including a pet that is with friends or family members. Fish in a tank no larger than 10 gallons are the single exception to this policy.”  Any student who brings an animal into the residence hall prior to receiving official approval through both the Office of Disability Services and the Office of Residence Life will be in violation of Residential Life Policy.  The Office of Residence Life has the authority to contact Madison County Animal Control to immediately remove any animal that is in violation of the no pet policy.

For additional information regarding Service and Assistance Animal Guidelines and the application process for requesting approval for a Service or Assistance Animal to live in university housing, please contact the Disability Services Coordinator.

 Request Procedures and Documentation Guidelines for an Assistance Animal (AA) Housing Accommodation: 

To be granted permission to have an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) or Service Dog (SD) in University Housing, the student must first contact the Office of Disability Services to start the process, meet eligibility requirements, and complete the following steps:

  1. Complete an MHU University Disability Services Request for Housing Accommodations Form and submit to the Office of Disability Services;
  2. Provide reliable third-party documentation/verification of a disability using the MHU Housing Accommodation Request Verification Form.  In the case of a Service Dog (as defined by ADA), and when the disability is obvious, professional verification of the disability may not be required.  However, the student should provide a description of what work or tasks related to the disability that the Service Dog has been trained to perform.  Verification may be also be typed on office letterhead that is dated and signed by the physician or treating professional but must include the same information as is required on the Healthcare Provider Verification Form: Request for Disability Accommodation in University Housing; or if for an ESA, the Health Care Provider Verification Form: Request for Emotional Support Animal in University Housing.
    1. A reliable third party is a physician or other medical professional, or a qualified professional from a non-medical or social service agency who is familiar with the individual’s disability and the necessity for the requested Assistance Animal;
    2. A reliable third party provider should be one who is located within reasonable driving distance from either the student’s permanent residence or from Mars Hill University.
    3. Form letters/certificates purchased from commercial websites or third parties who have no established professional relationship with a student are not considered to be reliable verification of a disability.
  3. The Disability Services Coordinator will review the completed MHU Request for Disability Services Housing Accommodation and the MHU Housing Accommodation Request Verification Form or similar documentation in a timely manner.  Student should expect to receive an emailed response to the results of the review within 5 working days.
  4. Approved students will be asked to set up an appointment with the Office of Disability Services to discuss consent for the requested type of animal and to complete the Assistance Animal in Residence Registration Form.  The Office of Residence Life will be consulted regarding the type of animal being requested and room options as well as roommate/suitemate considerations for the choice of residence.
  5. Dogs and Cats must be at least 6 months of age and spayed or neutered.  Dogs must be housebroken.
  6. A record of current state and or locally required vaccinations as well as 2 photos of the animal must be provided along with spay/neuter confirmation for cats and dogs.
  7. The Office of Disability Services will notify the Office of Residence Life of students with approved Assistance Animals who are authorized for entry.   (Note that disability verification records are confidential and remain only within the Office of Disability Services.)  The Office of Residence Life will notify other necessary campus authorities (i.e. Housekeeping, Residence Life Staff, Security, etc.) of the residential placement of students with approved Assistance Animals. Typically, entry for the animal is planned in advance for Move-In Day at the start of a semester. Other dates of entry may be considered on a case by case basis; however, new ESA requests beyond Fall and Spring Semester Breaks will not be approved for entry until the following semester’s Move-In Day.
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