Counseling Center Policy on Emotional Support Animals

As per the UM Office of Disability Services Policy on Service Animals, service dogs are defined as those  “specially trained to assist persons with visual disabilities, hearing impairments, or mobility impairments by performing specific tasks.” These are tasks an individual with a disability cannot perform for themselves. Service dogs often wear a special collar, vest, or harness, but they are not required to do so. UM Counseling Center welcomes service animals!.

Assistance animals (e.g. emotional support animals) are allowed in the owner’s campus residence but are not allowed in the Counseling Center or other campus buildings. “Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under ADA.” [ADA Requirements. Service Animals]

Counseling Center Staff may ask:

• Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
• What specific tasks is the animal trained to perform?

Examples of service animal tasks: guiding those who are blind; alerting those who are deaf to specific sounds; pulling wheelchairs and/or fetching/carrying objects for someone with mobility impairments; alerting/protecting someone having a seizure.

Counseling Center Staff May Not Ask:

• What is your disability?
• Require documentation [ID card, certification, etc.] or visible designation [vest, collar, etc.]

The owner/partner/handler of a service animal must maintain the animal on a leash at all times and must be in full control of the animal at all times. Any service animal can be excluded/removed from the counseling if its behavior poses a threat to the health or safety of others, or when its behavior creates a disruption to activities going on around it [e.g. barking or growling at others].

You can see the University’s policy on Service and Assistance Animals at:


Diagnosis of a psychological disability resulting in a prescription for an emotional support animal is a complex process that requires several sessions in order to understand the presence, intensity, and duration of various symptoms, degree of impairment in several areas of life functioning, and an evaluation of how an emotional support animal (ESA) would help mitigate symptoms and improve functioning.  Because Counseling Center providers have a very high demand for our services, and must be available to meet the mental health needs of our whole student body, our primary focus at UMCC is to provide ongoing treatment and acute/crisis services.  We do not have the resources to provide psychological work-ups for the purposes of disability documentation and ESA prescriptions.  For these reasons, the Counseling Center will not issue letters of support for ESA’s.

Students that are interested in obtaining documentation of a disability with a prescription for an ESA accommodation under the Fair Housing Act, should seek this documentation from a prior medical or mental health provider or by starting a disability assessment process through local community resources.  Documentation can come from a licensed medical or mental health professional, including psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, etc.

Please note, UMCC discourages use of online resources that promise ESA support letters for a fee.  These sources are usually fraudulent and the UM Office of Disability may not accept letters obtained in this fashion.

Disputes regarding the use of service animals on campus will be resolved through the Dean of Students office at 305-284-5353.

Service Dogs