Service and Emotional Support Animals

Service Animals on Campus

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a service animal as a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with disabilities. A dog meeting this definition is considered a service animal regardless of whether they have been licensed or certified by state or local agencies. Service animals are working animals, not pets. An animal that is used to provide an emotionally supportive therapeutic service for a student does not meet the definition of a service animal. A student is not required to provide an instructor an Academic Accommodation Form from the Disability Services Coordinator to have the service animal in the classroom. The student does assume responsibilities for the care of the service animal.

Responsibilities of Individuals Using Service Animals

  • The owner must follow local requirements for pets.
  • The service animal is in a harness or on a leash at all times.
  • The service animal is under control and behaves properly at all times.
  • The supervision of the service animal is the responsibility of its owner.
  • Regular bathing of the service animal is expected to avoid odor and shedding.
  • The service animal must be toilet trained; the owner is responsible for the cleanup of animal waste.
  • The owner must use appropriate toilet areas for the service animal.

Additional information can be obtained from the Disability Services Coordinator.

Emotional Support Animal (ESA)

Procedure and Agreement for Emotional Support Animals

Muscatine Community College (MCC) recognizes the importance of “Service Animals” as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA), and of Emotional Support Animals (ESAs), supported by the Fair Housing Act. MCC is committed to allowing individuals with disabilities the use of a Service Animal on campus to facilitate their full participation and equal access to the programs and activities of Muscatine Community College. MCC is also committed to allowing ESAs, necessary to provide individuals with mental health disabilities an equal opportunity to use and enjoy student housing. This document explains the specific requirements applicable to an individual’s use of an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) in student housing. MCC reserves the right to amend this document as circumstances require. This document applies solely to ESAs that may be necessary in student housing. It does not apply to “service animals” as defined by the ADAAA, and whose presence on campus is explained in the previous section.  

Although it is the policy of MCC that individuals are generally prohibited from having animals of any type in student housing, MCC will consider a request by an individual with a disability for reasonable accommodation from this prohibition to allow an ESA that is reasonable and necessary because of a mental health disability. However, no ESA may be kept in student housing at any time prior to the individual receiving approval as a reasonable accommodation.  Any requests for animals in residence for individuals with disabilities that are neither service animals nor ESAs should be directed to the Disability Resources Office.


An Emotional Support Animal (ESA) is an animal that provides therapeutic emotional support for an individual with a diagnosed mental health disability.  Unlike service animals that are trained to perform specific tasks that are important to the independence or safety of their disabled handler, ESAs are generally not trained to perform disability-specific tasks.  Their therapeutic support is a function of their presence and interaction with the person with a disability.  ESAs are not pets, but they typically are animals commonly kept in households as pets.  An ESA may be a dog (most common), cat, small bird, rabbit, hamster, gerbil, fish, turtle, or other small, domesticated animal that is traditionally kept in the home for pleasure.  Under guidelines from HUD, reptiles (other than turtles), barnyard animals, monkeys, and other non-domesticated animals are not considered common household animals.  Exceptions to these guidelines regarding animals serving as ESAs will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

The question in determining if an ESA will be allowed in student housing is whether or not the ESA is necessary because of the individual’s disability to afford the individual an equal opportunity to use and enjoy student housing and its presence in student housing is reasonable. However, even if the individual with a disability establishes necessity for an ESA and it is allowed in student housing, an ESA is not permitted in other areas of MCC (e.g. dining facilities, libraries, academic buildings, athletic buildings and facilities, classrooms, labs, individual centers, etc.).

The “Owner” is the individual who has requested the accommodation and has received approval to bring an ESA into student housing.

The Disability Services Office (“Disability Services”) collaborates with individuals, faculty, and staff to ensure that individuals with disabilities have equal access to all MCC programs and activities.

Procedures for Requesting Emotional Support Animals in Nyweide-Scott Housing

The procedure for requesting ESAs follows the general procedures set forth in the MCC General Housing Accommodation guidelines for student housing (“student housing”) and the requirements set forth below. However, to the extent the requirements and procedures for Emotional Support Animals conflict with the MCC General Housing Accommodation guidelines, the ESA requirements and procedures shall control.

  1. Student housing is unique in several aspects including the mandatory assignment of roommates for many individuals and the mandate that individuals must share a room or suite in many cases. To ensure that the presence of ESAs is not an undue administrative burden or fundamental alteration of student housing, MCC reserves the right to assign an individual with an ESA to a single room without a roommate.
  2. However, for all requests for ESAs, Disability Services shall nonetheless consult with Residence Life in making a determination on a case-by-case basis of whether the presence of an ESA is reasonable.  A request for an ESA may be denied as unreasonable if the presence of the animal: (1) imposes an undue financial and/or administrative burden; (2) fundamentally alters MCC housing policies; and/or (3) poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others or would cause substantial property damage to the property of others, including MCC property.
  3. MCC may consider the following factors, among others, as evidence in determining whether the presence of the animal is reasonable or in the making of housing assignments for individuals with ESAs:
    • The space needed for the cage/crate in which the animal will be housed is too large for available assigned housing space;
    • The animal's presence would force another individual from individual housing (e.g. serious allergies);
    • The animal's presence otherwise violates individuals' right to peace and quiet enjoyment;
    • The animal is not housebroken or is unable to live with others in a reasonable manner;
    • The animal's vaccinations are not up-to-date;
    • The animal poses health risks from zoonotic diseases or safety concerns regarding containment that cannot be sufficiently mitigated for inclusion in the communal living setting.
    • The animal poses or has posed in the past a direct threat to the individual or others such as aggressive behavior towards or injuring the individual or others; or
    • The animal causes or has caused excessive damage to housing beyond reasonable wear and tear

Emotional Support Animals

An ESA must be contained within the student’s privately assigned individual living accommodations (e.g., room, suite, apartment) except to the extent the individual is taking the animal out for natural relief.

Dominion and Control

Notwithstanding the restrictions set forth herein, the ESA must be properly housed and restrained or otherwise under the dominion and control of the student at all times. No student shall permit the animal to go loose or run at large. If an animal is found running at large, the animal is subject to capture and confinement and immediate removal from student housing.

If MCC grants a student’s request to live with an ESA (as approved), the student is solely responsible for the custody and care of the ESA and must meet the following requirements:

General Responsibilities

  1. The student 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 student’s responsibility to know and understand these ordinances, laws, and regulations. MCC has the right to require documentation of compliance with such ordinances, laws, and/or regulations, which may include a vaccination certificate. MCC reserves the right to request documentation showing that the animal has been licensed, if appropriate.
  2. The student is required to clean up after and properly dispose of the animal’s waste in a safe and sanitary manner and, when provided, must use animal relief areas designated by MCC.
  3. The student is required to ensure the animal is well cared for at all times. Any evidence of mistreatment or abuse may result in immediate removal of the ESA and/or discipline for the responsible individual.
  4. MCC will not ask for or require an individual with a disability to pay a fee or surcharge for an approved Emotional Support Animal.
  5. An individual with a disability may be charged for any damage caused by the ESA beyond reasonable wear and tear to the same extent that it charges other individuals for damages beyond reasonable wear and tear. The student's living accommodations may also be inspected for fleas, ticks or other pests, if necessary, as part of the college’s standard or routine inspections. If fleas, ticks or other pests are detected through inspection, the residence will be treated using approved fumigation methods by a college-approved pest control service. The student will be billed for the expense of any pest treatment above and beyond standard pest management in the residence halls. The college shall have the right to bill the student’s account for unmet obligations under this provision.
  6. The student must fully cooperate with college personnel with regard to meeting the terms of the requirements and procedures for ESAs and developing procedures for care of the animal (e.g., cleaning the animal, feeding/watering the animal, designating an outdoor relief area, disposing of feces, etc.).
  7. ESAs may not be left overnight in student housing to be cared for by any individual other than the student. If the student is to be absent from the residence hall overnight or longer, the animal must accompany the student. The student is responsible for ensuring that the ESA is contained, as appropriate, when the student is not present during the day while attending classes or other activities.
  8. The student agrees to abide by all equally applicable residential policies that are unrelated to the individual’s disability such as assuring that the animal does not unduly interfere with the routine activities of the residence or cause difficulties for individuals who reside there.
  9. The animal is allowed in student housing only as long as it is necessary because of the student‘s disability. The student must notify the Disability Services in writing if the ESA is no longer needed or is no longer in residence. To replace an ESA, the new animal must be necessary because of the student’s disability and the student must follow the procedures and requirements for an ESA and the MCC General Housing Accommodation guidelines when requesting a different animal.
  10. College personnel shall not be required to provide care or food for any ESA including, but not limited to, removing the animal during emergency evacuation for events such as a fire alarm. Emergency personnel will determine whether to remove the animal and may not be held responsible for the care, damage to, or loss of the animal. The Owner must provide the college with the name and contact information for someone who does not reside in campus housing and who can take responsibility for the animal within 12 hours should the Owner be unable or unavailable to care for it.
  11. The individual must provide written consent for Disability Services to disclose information regarding the request for and presence of the Emotional Support Animal to those individuals who may be impacted by the presence of the animal including, but not limited to, Residence Life personnel and potential and/or actual roommate(s)/neighbor(s). Such information shall be limited to information related to the animal and shall not include information related to the individual’s disability.
  12. Should the ESA be removed from the premises for any reason, the Owner is expected to fulfill his/her housing obligations for the remainder of the housing contract.
  13. Generally, the presence of only one ESA will be approved for a student, in order to fulfill the intent of the FHA requirements in providing support to the student with a mental health disability.  As the presence of ESAs is limited to the student’s immediate residence unit and will necessitate a cage/crate and appropriate supplies, typically only one animal will be approved to be in a single unit.
  14. MCC has determined that the residence hall setting, in most cases, is not an appropriate environment in which to raise a young puppy. Generally, dogs must be at least 10 months of age, and have received their first rabies vaccination before they can live in-residence in student housing.  Responsible pet ownership suggests that the animal be spayed or neutered.

The college may require the individual to remove the animal from student housing if:

  1. the animal 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 a college program;
  3. the Owner does not comply with the Owner’s Responsibilities set forth above; or
  4. the animal or its presence creates an unmanageable disturbance or interference with the college community.

The college will base such determinations upon the consideration of the behavior of the particular animal at issue, and not on speculation or fear about the harm or damages an animal may cause. Any removal of the animal will be done in consultation with the Disability Services Provider and may be appealed to the Dean of Academic Support Services, in writing, within seven business days of the decision.

If it is determined that the animal must be removed from the residence hall and the student fails to comply with the stated time frame, the college may have the animal removed to the nearest, appropriate animal shelter.  Additionally, failure to comply with the order for removal may result in a referral in further sanctions up to and including eviction.

Should the Emotional Support Animal be removed from the premises for any reason, the Owner is expected to fulfill his/her housing obligations for the remainder of the housing contract.

MCC will not retaliate against any person because that individual has requested or received a reasonable accommodation in student housing, including a request for an Emotional Support Animal.

Acknowledgment and Release of Information Consent Form

Download and print the Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Agreement form