Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Accommodation

ESA housing accommodations are used by individuals who would be unable or have substantial difficulty attending the university without this housing accommodation.

Students with documented disabilities are able to apply for an ESA housing accommodation at Radford University and Radford University Carilion. (CAS does not exempt students from housing contracts.)

Please be aware that documentation procured by participating in a conversation with an internet-based provider with whom the student does not otherwise have a clinical relationship may not be sufficient documentation. According to guidance issued by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (2020), “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.”

Procedures for requesting an Emotional Support Animal

A student who resides or will reside in on-campus residence halls and University operated apartments and wishes to keep an emotional support animal in their assigned University residence must complete the following process of requesting an emotional support animal.

The student must register online with the Center for Accessibility (CAS) as a student with a disability as defined by the ADA and provide medical documentation supporting disability diagnosis.

The student must contact CAS to schedule an interview (phone or in person). During the interview, CAS has the right to ask specific questions about the ESA, such as species, breed, size, weight, general description of the animal, etc.  CAS has the right to request additional information on the student’s disability, and have the student explain the following:  What is the barrier the student is experiencing?  What is the link between the barrier and the disability?  How does the presence of the ESA alleviate that barrier?

After the interview, CAS will provide the student with the Request for an Emotional Support Animal Accommodation paperwork. This paperwork must be completed by a professional who can speak at length to the medical necessity of the accommodation (e.g. Doctors, Therapists, Psychiatrists, Licensed Social Workers, and Psychologists). Recommendations must come from off-campus providers not affiliated with the University. Student Health Services and Student Counseling Services cannot provide recommendations for ESA’s.

A student’s completed ESA application includes the following:

  • Registering with CAS offices as a student with a diagnosed disability
  • Completing an ESA interview with a CAS Access Specialist
  • Submitting a completed Request for an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Accommodation form, that will be provided to the student after the interview has been completed.

Student will be notified of the approval or disapproval decision by RU email.

If approved, Housing and Residential Life staff will contact the student to schedule a required meeting to discuss rights and responsibilities of ESA owner and animal. This meeting must occur within the first week of approval otherwise the ESA owner will be considered in violation of the housing policy. To learn more about Housing and Residential Life contact them at https://www.radford.edu/content/residence-life/home.html

ESAs must be renewed annually. If the animal is returned to campus without proper renewal, the animal may be removed from campus until approval is complete.

The owner must notify CAS if the animal is no longer needed or is no longer residing on University property.  If the animal will be replaced, the owner must submit a new request.

If a student is denied an ESA request, the student may make an appointment with CAS offices to discuss the decision.

  • ESAs must be licensed.
  • ESAs must be at minimum: 4 months of age
  • Each case is reviewed on a case by case basis.

The Center for Accessibility, and/or the ESA Review Committee, in collaboration with Housing and Residential Life has the right to decline an ESA accommodation request.

Emotional Support Animals FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to renew my ESA accommodation annually?

Yes, just as academic accommodations are reviewed for appropriateness each year, a student should be able to provide information discussing the continued or discontinued need for an ESA.  If the animal is returned to campus without proper renewal, the animal may be removed from campus until approval is complete.

What happens if the approved ESA is no longer needed or is no longer residing on University property?

The owner must notify the Center for Accessibility and the Office of Residential Life and Housing if there has been a change in the status of the animal. If it will be replaced, the owner must submit a new request.

What happens if I harbor an animal that has not been approved as an ESA?

The animal will be removed and the student may forfeit future ESA accommodations. In addition, conduct charges may also be issued.

What about roommates and notifying them of an ESA?

It is the responsibility of the student requesting an ESA to inform their roommates of the entering ESA. If a roommate is not comfortable with an ESA, the student requesting the ESA will be responsible for finding roommates that are comfortable with their ESA within their apartment or suite. It is not the roommate’s responsibility to care for the emotional support animal.

Can an ESA be removed due to owner and/or the ESA’s behavior and action not abiding to guidelines established in the ESA Housing Agreement?

Yes, if an ESA is disruptive to the atmosphere and enjoyment of others this violates residence life policy.  All residents are to conduct themselves as to not disrupt an environment that is conducive to studying, and sleeping. 

ESA Accommodation Deadlines

Completion of the Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Housing Accommodation Packet does not guarantee approval of an ESA or any other housing accommodations that may be offered through CAS.

ESA Housing Accommodation Packets should be submitted to CAS by;

Fall Semester Request

  • April 1 for RUC students 
  • July 15 for Radford campus students

Spring Semester Request

  • November 15 for RUC students
  • December 15 for Radford campus students

(Incomplete forms will not be reviewed.)