There are different types of animals that are used to support people with disabilities — service animals and emotional support animals. Both types may be used by people on campus, but their purposes are very different.
- Service animals are working animals who are specifically trained to support the needs of a person with a disability.
- Emotional support animals (ESAs), on the other hand, are not trained to perform a task but their presence can provide comfort and help alleviate the impact of mental health concerns.
Both types of animals are viewed very differently under the law and therefore are allowed different privileges on campus.
Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities (ADA Amendments Act, 2008).
Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task of a dog or miniature horse has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person's disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.
Emotional Support Animal (ESA)
Any animal that is specifically designated by a qualified medical provider as affording an individual with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling, provided there is a nexus between the individual's disability and the assistance the animal provides.
An emotional support animal is not a service animal and is thus not entitled to the same privileges as a service animal. At Old Dominion University's discretion, emotional support animals may be permitted in University housing, on a case-by-case basis.