Emotional Support Animal Policy for Residential Students

Moravian University is committed to reasonably accommodating qualified students with disabilities and adhering to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADA) in ensuring accessibility of its programs and services. 

Students with support animals must contact the Office of Disability and Accommodations to request the animal’s presence on campus. Students who plan to live in residence must notify the offices of Residence Life & Housing. 


Emotional support animal (ESA): Emotional support animals are various terms for assistance animals that do not meet the ADA definition for a service animal. The emotional support animals’ sole function is to provide support to improve the emotional well-being of the owner. Therefore, therapy and emotional support animals are not entitled to the same benefits as service animals [as outlined in ADA]. 

Owner: Student or another covered person who has requested the accommodation and has received approval to bring the support animal on campus. Students cannot bring animals into housing without obtaining authorization from University officials.

Pet: Animal kept for regular use, pleasure, and companionship. A pet is not a service animal or therapy/emotional support animal and, therefore, is not covered by this policy. Students are not permitted to keep pets, other than non-carnivorous fish, in the residence halls. 

Service animal: Defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as a dog or miniature horse that does work or performs tasks for people with disabilities. 

Policy for Emotional Support Animal (ESA) 

Accommodation Request Process 

Moravian University requires that a student who needs an ESA and plans to reside on campus must contact the Office of Disability and Accommodations to register as a student with a disability. 

The student should provide documentation to the Office of Disability and Accommodations at least thirty (30) days before the housing selection or housing registration deadline. If the student needs to have a support animal on campus after they have been assigned housing for the year, the student should provide documentation to the Office of Disability and Accommodations at least thirty (30) days before the date the student would like to bring the animal to campus. Students making requests after housing has already been selected should note that even if the animal is approved, they may need to meet with Residence Life and Housing to review alternative housing arrangements or wait until the following semester to bring the animal to campus.

Residence Life & Housing Approval Process 

After the Office of Disability and Accommodations reviews documentation and determines that a qualifying disability exists, the office will send a formal letter to Residence Life & Housing and the student. The student shall arrange a meeting with a representative of the Office of Housing.

Approval from the Office of Disability and Accommodations is the first step in the approval process. Before the animal is permitted to be in the residence hall, the student must complete the following with a member of the Office of Housing: 

  • Receive written approval of accommodation from the Office of Disability and Accommodations. 
  • Meet with and review the Moravian University Support Animal Policy for Residential Students with a Housing Staff member and identify housing options. 
  • Sign and return the Support Animal Contract to the Office of Housing.
  • Provide current and updated animal records (see below) to the Office of Housing. 
  • Provide a photo of the animal to the Office of Housing. 
  • Receive and return the Approved Animal Agreement Roommate & Suitemate Acknowledgement Form to the Office of Housing. 
  • Receive a registration tag for the animal from Housing. 

Students found with an animal in the residence halls who have not completed the formal approval process, as listed above, may face student conduct action for failure to comply with removing the animal by the deadline determined in the interactive process. 

Types of Animals Allowed as Emotional/Therapy Animals

No animal will be approved as an emotional support/therapy animal that does not qualify as an allowable animal under the law. Only one animal per student may be eligible to reside on-campus as an ESA. The following are typically allowable under the law:

  • Captive-bred species of standard cage birds
  • Domestic dogs (excluding hybrids with wolves, coyotes, or jackals)
  • Domestic cats (excluding hybrids with ocelots or margays)
  • Domestic rodents and rabbits
  • Nonpoisonous snakes, fish, turtles (traditionally kept in the home for pleasure rather than commercial purpose)

Animal Records 

All ESAs must comply with local and state ordinances and laws regarding animals, including requirements for vaccinations and licensing. Cats and dogs must be at least six (6) months or older to reside on campus with their owner. Pennsylvania state law requires that all dogs three (3) months and older have a license by January 1st of each year. For students who are not Pennsylvania residents, Residence Life & Housing may accept a license from the student's home state or county instead of the Pennsylvania license as long as the requirements are similar. 

Support animals (cats and dogs) must have current vaccination against rabies and wear a rabies vaccination tag. For all other ESA’s, owners may be required to provide a letter from a veterinarian stating that the animal is healthy and does not pose a notable risk of zoonosis. The letter should identify any practices or protocols in care necessary to maintain low risk in the close shared living environment of a college residence hall. If the animal eats live food, the veterinarian must describe the volume and frequency of the diet, as well as safe handling instructions and any zoonotic or environmental risks from the live food. 

Resident students should submit their support animal’s health and vaccination records to Housing at least thirty (30) days before the date the student would like to bring the animal to the residence hall. 

Residents with an approved support animal must resubmit their approved animal’s health and vaccination records yearly, generally before the start of the academic year. 

Notice to Residential Community 

Once the support animal is approved to reside on campus, Housing personnel may notify tenants of the shared space (room or suite) and the Residence Life & Housing Staff. The notification does not disclose the student’s disability but merely establishes the animal's presence and instructions for concerned parties.

All roommates or suitemates of the owner must sign an agreement allowing the approved ESA to be in residence with them. If one or more roommates or suitemates do not agree, either the owner or the non-approving roommates or suitemates, as determined by Housing, may be moved to a different location. 

Responsibilities of the Owner 

The owner is responsible for creating and maintaining an environment that is supportive of their support animal’s health and well-being. A support animal must be clean and well-groomed, and the owner should take measures at all times to prevent flea and odor control. If at any time, the proper care of the animal is questioned by the Office of Housing or another campus office, the owner may be asked to remove the animal.

Support animals must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered. If the owner resides on campus, a support animal may be off-leash or off-harness in the owner’s suite or bedroom when it is not working and the owner is present. 

When the owner is not with the animal, it must be inside the owner’s bedroom. 

The support animal should never be left unattended or under the care of another Moravian University community member. The owner is expected to navigate their class schedule and obligations accordingly to ensure the support animal has proper care. For extenuating circumstances, please contact the Office of Housing for assistance.

The support animal must be housebroken. It is the owner’s responsibility to be aware of the animal’s need to relieve itself and respond accordingly. It is the owner’s responsibility to remove and properly dispose of any waste. 

In the event of an emergency evacuation, the owner is responsible for evacuating the building. The owner should use discretion regarding the removal of the support animal during the evacuation.

The owner is solely responsible for any damage to persons or University property caused by the support animal. The owner is also responsible for any expense incurred for cleaning above and beyond a standard cleaning or for repairs to University premises that are assessed after the student and support animal vacate the residence. 

Responsibilities of Moravian University

The primary role of the offices of Residence Life & Housing is to support the student/owner. Moravian University assumes no responsibility for the owner’s animal or the behavior of the animal. Moravian University is not responsible for the loss, damage to, or death of the animal. 

If the owner has challenges with their animal that impact the other students of the community, the offices of Residence Life & Housing are available to meet with and support the owner. The offices can provide recommendations for the owner and their roommates and/or suitemates. The offices, however, are unable to provide recommendations for the animals, other than removal. Owners who are struggling with care for their animals should refer to the veterinarian for recommendations. 

If the animal becomes a burden for the owner and thus the owner experiences an exacerbation of their disability, the Office of Disability and Accommodations will meet with the student and may require new documentation from the student's health professional as to whether or not the animal is a support or a hindrance to the student's health. If a roommate conflict presents itself as a result of the animal’s presence the University will treat the conflict as if it were a traditional mediation. Should no resolution be identified, the University may require all parties to relocate, dependent on the availability of space. 

Should multiple owners seek to have animals in a shared space (bedroom and/or suite), priority will be given in order of approval by the Office of Disability and Accommodations. Housing will coordinate with the subsequent approvals on alternative housing arrangements. 

Removal of Animal 

The Office of Disability and Accommodations, in collaboration with the Office of Housing and Student Development (if appropriate), will review and evaluate if any actions of the owner of the support animal violate this policy. If the support animal’s behavior poses a threat to the safety of others, Campus Police may also be part of the team responding to the behavior. Permanent exclusion of the animal may occur if continuous behavior problems are reported. 

The owner may be asked to remove a support animal from College facilities or grounds within 48 hours if the animal displays disruptive behavior, such as wandering, barking or whining, defecating or urinating in unauthorized spaces, or if it displays aggressive behavior. If the owner mistreats or neglects the support animal, the owner will be asked to remove the animal. A support animal may also be removed if it demonstrates negative and/or destructive behavior beyond the duties of the support animal and if the owner does not, or is unable to, control the animal. Ill, unhygienic, and/or unsanitary support animals are not permitted in public campus areas. 

The College retains the right to remove the animal if the owner is unable to produce the required animal records by the deadline established by the Office of Housing.

Requirements for Moravian University Community Members 

Members of the Moravian University community are required to abide by the following practices: 
● They are not to touch or pet a support animal unless invited to do so. 
● They are not to feed a support animal. 
● They are not to deliberately startle a support animal. 
● They are not to separate or to attempt to separate an owner from their support animal. 
● They are not to inquire for details about the owner’s disability. The nature of a person’s disability is a private matter. 

Conflicting Disabilities 

Allergies and fear of animals are not valid reasons for excluding a support animal from the campus or residence hall. 

A person who expects to come into contact with the support animal frequently, and who has a medical condition(s) that are affected by animals, are asked to contact the Office of Disability and Accommodations if they have health or safety-related concerns. The individual will be asked to provide medical documentation that identifies the condition(s) and will allow a determination to be made as to whether the condition is disabling and whether there is a need for accommodation. 

The Office of Disability and Accommodations and Residence Life & Housing will resolve any conflict promptly. Staff members will consider the conflicting needs and/or accommodations of all persons involved.