Picture of a person holding and hugging a small shaggy long haired brown dog.

Emotional Support Animals (ESA) are housing accommodations that are outlined by the Fair Housing Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. They state that an ESA is: 

An animal that provides emotional support that alleviates one or more identified effects of a person’s disability. An assistance animal is not a pet.

An ESA may be necessary for a person with a disability to have equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling, including public and common use spaces.

The Process

To request an ESA as a reasonable accommodation, you will need to contact the Disability Resources office to start the process. Upon reaching out to Disability Resources you will be prompted to register by completing an AIM application. Prior to meeting with an Accommodations Specialist you will need to:  

  1. Fill out the Assistance Animal in University Housing Request and email it to us at dr@sou.edu or fax it to (541) 552-8462.  This form also references the SOU's Assistance Animal Policy. It will be important that you reference this policy when completing the request form.
  2. Once we get the ESA request form back from you, we will review the information and then contact you to schedule an appointment. You will then:
  3. Meet with one of our Accommodation Specialists to talk through your need for the accommodation and how that works here at SOU. 
  4. Provide us with documentation from a qualified clinician to support your need for the animal. Please use our ESA Verification Form, which makes it easy for your clinician to know how much information they need to disclose.
  5. Complete our ESA Structured Interview which consists of answering some questions about your disability and current needs, and information about your animal. 

The following documentation will be required as well in order to complete the process and bring your animal to the campus:
  1. ESA Inquiry-Guidelines
  2. The animal’s updated vaccination records
  3. A full-body picture of your animal

As soon as Disability Resources receives the aforementioned documentation a decision will be provided within 10 business days and our University Housing staff will be officially notified via email. From there, University Housing will contact you for the next steps to be followed.

Some websites sell certificates, registrations, and licensing documents for assistance animals to anyone who answers certain questions or participates in a short interview and pays a fee. Under the Fair Housing Act, a housing provider may request reliable documentation when an individual requesting a reasonable accommodation has a disability and disability-related need for an accommodation that are not obvious or otherwise known. In HUD’s experience, such documentation from the internet is not, by itself, sufficient to reliably establish that an individual has a non-observable disability or disability-related need for an assistance animal.
HUD Assistance Animal Policy
HUD Memo Re: ESAs
SOU housing Policy
Service Animal vs. Emotional Support Animals (Bookmark)

Questions about Service Animals

For more information or if you have any question contact Disability Resources at (541) 552-6213 or by email: dr@sou.edu.