Emotional Support Animal Guidelines

The University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown recognizes the importance of Emotional Support Animals to individuals with documented disabilities and establishes the following guidelines:

  1. Student must register with the Office of Health and Counseling Services and submit an accommodation request to bring the ESA into on-campus housing.  The request must include a direct link between the animal and the Owner’s documented disability.  Owner must personally meet with Office of Health and Counseling Services Executive Director to discuss his/her individual request.  If the request for Emotional Support Animal is approved, Owner must receive written agreement from all residents of the room/apartment where the ESA will reside.
  2. A request for an ESA must include a letter of recommendation from the student’s psychiatrist or physician, or licensed mental health professional.  This recommendation should be part of the treatment plan with evidence of an existing and ongoing therapeutic relationship.
  3. Only the following animals are approved to serve as ESA (no exceptions will be made):
    1. A dog (less than 40 pounds and at least one year old).  The following must be submitted at least two weeks prior to moving in for the semester:
      1. proof of flea prevention,
      2. proof of spay/neuter,
      3. proof of vaccinations for rabies, distemper, leptospirosis, Bordetella, and fecal OVA, and
      4. parasite screening with negative result.  Owner must provide evidence the ESA is licensed and wears its identification tag with its license number, rabies tag, and owner’s cell number at all times. Additionally, the owner must certify the animal is housebroken.
    2. A domestic cat (recommended at least one year old).  The following must be submitted at least two weeks prior to moving in for the semester:
      1. proof of flea prevention,
      2. proof of spay/neuter,
      3. proof of vaccinations for rabies, distemper, Felv/FIV (feline AIDS and leukemia),
      4. fecal OVA, and
      5. parasite screening with negative result.  Owner must certify the animal is litter trained before bringing to campus.
    3. A hamster,
    4. A guinea pig, or
    5. A rabbit. 
  4. In addition to the items mentioned in guidelines #2, the following must be provided at least two weeks prior to moving in for the semester (this applies to all ESAs):
    1. completed and signed Authorized Animal Responsibility Agreement,
    2. clear, full-bodied picture of the animal,
    3. completed and signed Authorized Owner Emergency Contact, and
    4. completed and signed Resident Agreement for Emotional Support Animal (if applicable).
  5. The ESA must have been residing with the Owner or Owner’s family for at least one year.
  6. A student is permitted to have only one ESA on campus.
  7. In the event that a roommate (or suite/lodge mate) does not agree to having an ESA in his/her room, the owner of the ESA will be reassigned to a different location. 
  8. Owner is responsible for the care and supervision of the ESA and is required to maintain control of the animal at all times.
  9. The Owner must communicate with Housing and Dining Services if the care and keeping of the ESA becomes too great, or if the Owner removes the ESA from campus housing.
  10. ESA’s may have access to Owner’s room only and are not permitted in other areas of the University (e.g. other students’ rooms or apartments, patios, library, academic buildings, classrooms, labs, Student Union, etc.).  ESAs are not permitted to travel in any University vehicles or shuttles.
  11. ESA’s 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 his/her residence hall overnight or longer, the animal must accompany the Owner.
  12. 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.
  13. In the event of an emergency, the university is not responsible for obtaining the animal from the residence. The name and contact information must be provided for an emergency contact who can retrieve the animal from campus in the event it must be removed.  This individual must reside within a two-hour proximity to campus.
  14. The Owner is responsible to take care of and pick up the waste on university grounds and disposing it properly and safely.
  15. Owner is financially responsible for the actions of the ESA including bodily injury or property damage. 
  16. Owner is responsible for any expenses incurred for cleaning above and beyond a standard cleaning or for repairs to University premises (includes, but is not limited to, replacement of furniture, carpet, windows, wall covering, etc.). 
  17. The University is not responsible or liable, in any manner, for ESAs.
  18. The Owner is responsible for removal of the animal in the event of an evacuation.
  19. The Owner’s room will be subject to unannounced monthly health and safety inspections to ensure it is sanitary and that the health and wellness of all occupants, including the animal, are well maintained.
  20. Any threat posed to a member of the campus community by an ESA will not be tolerated.  If any aggressive or disruptive behavior is exhibited by the ESA, the Owner will be responsible for the ESAs immediate removal from campus.  Examples of disruptive behavior include, but are not limited to, repeated barking or continuous noise, urinating/defecating on floors or walls, roaming the hallways, etc.
  21. All complaints about an ESA will be investigated by the Office of Housing and Dining Services or Residence Life in conjunction with Student Conduct and Campus Police.
  22. In the event of a medical emergency, including but not limited to the death of the animal while on campus, a local veterinarian or animal hospital must be contacted.  In the case of an animal loss, due to death or simply choosing to not have the animal on campus, the Office of Housing & Dining Services must be notified immediately.  No deceased animal is permitted to be buried anywhere on campus grounds and must be removed from campus immediately.

Any violation of the above guidelines may result in immediate removal of the ESA from the University.  Should the Emotional Support Animal be removed from the premises for any reason, Owner is expected to fulfill his/her housing obligations for the remainder of the housing contract.