Emotional Support Animal

Effective June 2020

Applicable Employee Classes:

Review Date:

Approved by:  

All Florida Tech Faculty, Staff and Students July 2020 Dr. T. Dwayne McCay, President

I. Statement of Commitment

Florida Tech is committed to making reasonable modifications to its rules, policies, and practices as required by law to provide equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in the participation of activities operated and sponsored by the University. This policy applies to the use of emotional support animals used by individuals with disabilities at the University. The University has a separate policy for service animals, which can be found at (link). Service animals are permitted on the Melbourne campus and in campus housing. Pets, other than fish, are generally prohibited in Florida Tech residence halls and housing. Approved emotional support animals are permitted to reside in residence halls and housing.

II. Emotional Support Animal (ESA)

An ESA is an animal that provides emotional support or alleviates one or more of the identified symptoms or effects of a person’s disability. Unlike service animals, ESA’s do not have to be specially trained and are not limited to dogs or miniature horses.

III. Verification of ESA

As a condition for approval of having an ESA in campus housing, the University may require documentation from a physician, psychiatrist, physician’s assistant, social worker, or other mental health professional that the animal provides emotional support that alleviates one or more of the identified effects or symptoms of an existing disability. The documentation will be sufficient if it establishes that the student has a disability and that the animal in question will provide some type of disability-related assistance or emotional support.

IV. Approval of ESA

Florida Tech reserves the right to deny an individual’s request to live with and use an animal as an ESA if: (1) the specific assistance animal in question poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others that cannot be reduced or eliminated by another reasonable accommodation, or (2) the specific assistance animal would cause substantial physical damage to the property of others that cannot be reduced or eliminated by another reasonable accommodation. A decision to deny approval shall be based on an individualized assessment based upon objective evidence about the specific animal’s conduct. Among the potential considerations are:

  • Whether the animal poses or has posed in the past a direct threat to the student or others
  • Whether the animal causes or has caused excessive damage to housing beyond reasonable wear and tear
  • Whether the size of the animal is too large for available assigned housing space
  • Whether the animal’s presence would force another individual from their assigned housing; and
  • Whether the animal is housebroken.

V. Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Disability Request Form

Students requesting an ESA as an accommodation should file an Emotional Support Request Form, which can be obtained from the Office of Accessibility Resources as well as at https://www.fit.edu/accessibility-resources/. Assistance with completing the form can be obtained by contacting the Office of Accessibility Resources at (321) 674-8285 or visiting the office located in the Academic Support Center, north entrance of Wood Hall.  The deadline for submission of an ESA request is 60 days prior to the beginning of each semester. Any request submitted after the deadline will be examined on a case-by-case basis and accommodation provided if available at the time of submission. No ESA may be kept in university housing at any time prior to the approval of the application.

Applicants requesting approval to keep an ESA in campus housing must provide written consent for the Office of Accessibility Resources to disclose information regarding the request for and presence of the assistance animal to those individuals who may be impacted by the presence of the animal including, but not limited to, Florida Tech Housing personnel, Residence Life personnel and potential and/or actual roommate(s) or neighbor(s). Such information shall be limited to information related to the animal and shall not include information related to the individual’s disability.

VI. Owner’s Responsibilities

Service animals are permitted on the Melbourne campus and in campus housing. Pets, other than fish, are generally prohibited in Florida Tech residence halls and housing. Approved ESA’s are not considered pets and are permitted to reside in residence halls and housing with the student with the disability whom they accompany. ESA’s must be confined to the student’s individually assigned residence hall room, except when necessary for the animal to go outside for natural relief. 

The owner must abide by current City, County, and State ordinances, laws, and/or regulations pertaining to licensing, vaccination, and other requirements for animals. It is the owner’s responsibility to know and understand these ordinances, laws, and regulations. The University has the right to require documentation of compliance with such ordinances, laws, and/or regulations, which may include a vaccination certificate and proof of licensure. The ESA must be immunized against diseases common to that type of animal. Dogs must have current vaccination against rabies and wear a rabies vaccination tag. Cats should have normal shots required for a healthy animal. ESAs must have an annual clean bill of health from a licensed veterinarian. Documentation should be an Animal Wellness check from a veterinarian regarding the animal’s health. The University has the authority to direct that the Service Animal or ESA receive veterinary attention but has no obligation to do so. 

The care and supervision of the animal is the responsibility of the owner.  University personnel shall not be required to provide care or food for an ESA, including, but not limited to, removing the animal during emergency evacuation for events such as a fire alarm. In the event of an emergency, appropriate personnel will determine whether to remove the animal and may not be held responsible for the care of, injury to, or loss of the animal.

The owner must abide by the ESA Rules and Regulations for residential housing. An Owner will be charged for any damage caused by an ESA beyond reasonable wear and tear. The University may inspect the owner’s living area for fleas, ticks or other pests, as necessary and consistent with the room entry policies. If fleas, ticks or other pests are detected through inspection, the University will treat the areas as appropriate. The owner will be billed for the expense of any pest treatment necessitated by the presence of the ESA, including by applying such charges to the Owner’s University student account. 

The owner is responsible for ensuring that the ESA does not unduly interfere with the routine activities of the residence area.

The animal MUST be completely house trained—for dogs: trained to urinate and defecate outside. Training pads are not permitted. The owner is also responsible for ensuring the cleanup of the ESA’s waste and, when appropriate, must toilet the animal in outdoor areas designated by the University. All animal waste, including cat litter, must be placed in a sturdy plastic bag and securely tied up before being disposed of in the appropriately labeled outside trash containers. Litter boxes must be placed on mats so that waste is not tracked onto carpeted surfaces. All bathing/washing care of animals must take place off-campus. 

The owner is responsible for the actions of the ESA, including financial obligations resulting from bodily injury to the owner or another person caused by the animal. The ESA is allowed in University housing only as long as the owner has a disability-related to the need for the animal. The owner must notify the Office of Accessibility Resources in writing if the ESA is no longer needed or is no longer in residence.

ESAs must be contained within the privately assigned residential areas at all times, except to the extent the individual is taking the animal out for natural relief or transported outside the private residential areas in an animal carrier or controlled by leash or harness. ESAs are not allowed in any University facilities other than the University housing to which the resident is assigned. 

The ESA must be properly housed and restrained or otherwise under the dominion and control of the owner at all times. The owner is responsible for ensuring that the ESA is contained, as appropriate when the owner is not present during the day while attending classes or other activities.

No Owner shall permit the animal to go loose or run at large. The animal must be on a leash or harness (if appropriate).  If an animal is found running at large, the animal is subject to capture and confinement and immediate removal from University housing. 

ESAs may not be left overnight in University Housing to be cared for by any individual other than the owner. If the owner is to be absent from the owner’s residence hall overnight or longer, the animal must accompany the owner.

The owner must provide contact information for an alternative caregiver or an emergency contact who will take responsibility of the ESA and remove it from campus should the owner be unable to care for it (e.g., hospitalization, accident). The caregiver or emergency contact must reside OFF campus and must be available to remove the ESA in a timely manner appropriate for the animal species and needed care. Dogs must be removed within 6 hours. All other animals must be removed in no more than 12 hours. In instances where it is determined that ESA care needs are not being provided to ensure its health and well-being, the University reserves the right to have the animal removed from university housing. The University may have an ESA removed from university housing if it is not removed in a timely manner as specified in the rules.

University Housing may relocate Owners and ESAs to other housing consistent with University Housing policy. Owners must also abide by all other residential policies.

VII. Removal of Animal

The University may remove an ESA if there is substantial objective evidence that the animal:

  1.  Poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others or causes substantial property damage to the property of others;
  2.  The animal’s presence results in a fundamental alteration of the University’s programming;
  3.  The owner does not comply with the Owner’s Responsibilities set forth above; or
  4.  The animal or its presence creates an unreasonable disturbance in or interference with the University community.


VIII. Getting Help 

A. For questions regarding service animals on campus grounds, please contact: 

Office of Accessibility Resources

Evans Pavilion Annex (south entrance)

Telephone: (321) 674-8285

Email: accessibilityresources@fit.edu

Website: https://www.fit.edu/accessibility-resources


Florida Tech Campus Services

Harris Commons Building, Suite 113

Telephone: (321) 674-8926

Email: housing@fit.edu

Website: http://www.fit.edu/campus-services


B. For information regarding local vaccination, licensing, and tag requirements, please contact:

Brevard County Animal Services

Telephone: (321)633-2024

Website: https://www.brevardsheriff.com/home/commands-services/operational-services/animal-services/animal-tags-licenses/


C. For reporting an unruly and/or unlicensed animal on campus, contact: 

Campus Security

Telephone: (321)674-8111 

IX. References

  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • Brevard County, Florida- Code of Ordinances Chapter 14- Animal Articles II- Animal Control
  • Brevard County Sheriff’s Office Animal Services

 Frequently Asked Questions about Services Animals and the ADA, U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division