Emotional Support Animals and Service Animals

George Fox University is committed to making reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities. As part of our commitment, students with disabilities who have a service animal or who are determined eligible for an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) are permitted to house their animal in their campus room, apartment, or house. Only students with disabilities are eligible for this exception to the pet policy.

Table of Contents

Qualifications and Requests

A student may qualify for this accommodation if:

  1. the student has a documented disability;
  2. the animal is necessary to afford the student with the disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy their dwelling; and
  3. there is an identifiable and documented nexus between the disability and the assistance that the animal provides.

To request a service animal or emotional support animal in campus housing, please follow the Housing/Meal Plan/Animal Accommodations process.


Service Animal

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a service animal as a dog* that is "individually trained" to "do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability." The tasks a dog has been trained to provide must relate directly to the person's disability. The crime deterrent effects of an animal's presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition.

*Under particular circumstances set forth in the ADA regulations at 28 CFR 35.146(i), a miniature horse may qualify as a service animal.

Emotional Support Animal (ESA)

Federal laws recognize emotional support animals as reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities for purposes of housing and travel. In order for an animal to qualify as an emotional support animal, the individual must have an identified psychological disability as diagnosed by a qualified provider; documentation from the provider must include a recommendation for an emotional support animal. By definition and law, a "mental or psychological disorder" qualifies as a disability so long as it substantially "limits a major life activity." 

Animals on Campus

Emotional support animals are allowed in a student’s campus room or apartment. Students who have a disability-related need to take an ESA to other areas on campus should make an appointment with Disability & Accessibility Services to discuss the need for an accommodation. Service animals may accompany students to most areas of campus without specific permission, though entry to some locations might be limited (e.g. science labs) for the safety of the animal. Students with service animals are welcome to register through AIM with Disability & Accessibility Services if they would like notifications to be sent to their professors regarding their service animal.

Service Animals on Campus

Service Animals in the Laboratory

George Fox University is committed to your safety and success in the laboratory. If success includes the use of a service animal, George Fox is committed to making reasonable accommodations to be sure your animal is also safe in the laboratory. Please note that this policy does not apply to emotional support, companion or therapy animals; it is applicable only to service animals. Complete this form to request a service animal in the laboratory.

Service Animal Policy for the Laboratory

PPE for the Animal

Emotional Support Animals on Campus

Conflicting Disabilities and/or Medical Conditions

A student with a disability and/or medical condition that is affected by animals should contact Disability & Accessibility Services if they have a health or safety-related concern about exposure to an emotional support animal. The person asserting the conflicting disability and/or medical condition must provide appropriate medical documentation that identifies the condition(s) and the need for an accommodation. Appropriate action under federal and state law will be taken to consider the needs of all persons involved and to resolve the conflict as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Decision Review Process

If you feel that you were inappropriately denied this accommodation, a request for a decision review can be made by contacting the Director of Learning Support Services at 503-554-2314. The review will be made by a team of appropriate administrators.

Reference Material

Federal Laws:

Professional Guidelines:

Caring for Animals:

Licensing and Vaccinations:

Making an Informed Decision

Evidence shows that Emotional Support Animals can provide therapeutic benefits to their owners. Nonetheless, taking care of an animal is a big responsibility - the owner is accountable for the life and well-being of the animal. Factors such as type of animal, breed, and age of animal all play a role in the type and amount of care an animal needs. Before choosing an Emotional Support Animal, we advise that you become well informed on the responsibilities that come with animal ownership.

You may want to review these questions with your parents, provider, Area Coordinator, or others as you consider bringing an animal into campus housing:

  1. What type of animal do I want to get? What are the needs of this animal, and how will my lifestyle allow me to care for the animal?
  2. Just as humans take time to adjust to a new place to live, animals also need support as they transition to a new home. How will I help my animal feel comfortable living in my room when it first arrives? Where will its supplies (bed, toys, food, etc.) be placed? Will it need to stay in a crate for most of the day? What behaviors might this animal exhibit if it is distressed and how will I address them?
  3. How long am I away from my room during the day? Where will the animal be kept when I’m not home? Will I need to change the amount of time I am away in order to care for the animal? Do I plan to study abroad or travel in the near future? What will I do with my animal at those times?
  4. How big will my animal grow? Does my living space fit the needs of the animal? How much exercise will my animal need, and how will I ensure it gets enough exercise?
  5. How long is my animal’s average lifespan? Am I prepared to care for the animal for its entire life? What responsibilities come with a commitment to long term care of the animal?
  6. What supplies will I need to purchase for my animal? Have I budgeted enough to make those purchases? Do I have a plan in place if my animal needs emergency veterinary care?
  7. What resources will I use to learn more about caring for my animal

If you have questions related to having a service animal or emotional support animal on campus, please contact Disability & Accessibility Services at das@georgefox.edu.