Emotional Support Animals

In accordance with the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, Access Services at Bryn Mawr College engages in an interactive and collaborative process with students in order to determine eligibility for requests for reasonable accommodations to its housing policy to allow students experiencing significant mental health issues to keep an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) in-residence. 

The College offers this preliminary guidance for those who are considering making a request for an ESA:

  • Documentation of a significant mental health challenge and the associated need for an ESA must come from a mental health provider with whom you have an established therapeutic relationship. The College is aware of website services that offer to create “ESA letters” for a set price, usually based only upon answers to an online survey. Such letters rarely provide sufficient documentation to support a request, and the College generally does not view them as reliable sources of information.
  • The nature of communal living requires that the College consider the needs of all students in residence. Therefore, even if the College approves your request to have an ESA, it will not necessarily approve the specific animal requested. For example, most reptiles and rodents must be rejected because of safety and health concerns, as they may carry diseases which pose a threat to the general welfare of residents in a communal living environment
  • Our residence halls are generally not an animal-friendly environment. Approved ESAs will be restricted to your dorm room. They are not allowed in common areas in the residence hall and must be crated when the owner is not in the room.
  • ESAs and/or their belongings may not be washed/cleaned on the College’s premises.
  • ESAs must be crate-trained and must be reliably housebroken.
  • An ESA must be owned by the student and/or their family.
  • Approved ESAs must not be left in the care of other residents, even for one night.
  • Students bringing approved ESAs to campus are fully responsible for the ESA’s behavior and for any damage caused by the ESA. If the ESA is disruptive in any manner, it must be removed within 24 hours of notice to the student.
  • Requests for an ESA must be made by March 1 for the following Fall semester and/or November 1 for the following Spring semester. If/when approval is granted, the student may need to wait until the beginning of a new semester until the ESA can be brought to campus.
  • Generally, the presence of only one ESA will be approved per student.
  • The College encourages responsible ESA ownership. Generally, dogs and cats should be spayed/neutered before bringing them to campus to live in a communal setting. Additionally, they should be fully vaccinated.

Students wishing to inquire about their eligibility to have an emotional support animal in their college residence must make an appointment with the Director of Access Services, prior to taking any further steps, to discuss their request and the requirements of the College’s policy regarding emotional support animals in more detail. The Director will explain the complete process and procedures and distribute the necessary forms.

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Contact Us

Access Services

Access Services
Eugenia Chase Guild Hall, Room 103
101 N. Merion Ave.
Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania 19010
Fax: 610-526-7451

Deb Alder, Director of Access Services
dalder@brynmawr.edu
Phone: 610-526-7516
Office Hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday-Thursday

Grace Cipressi, Assistive Technology Specialist
gcipressi@brynmawr.edu
Phone: 610-526-5470
Office Hours: 8 a.m.-3 p.m., Monday-Friday