Service and Emotional Support Animals

Service Animal:


A "service animal" is a dog or miniature horse that is individually trained to perform work or tasks for a disabled person. The work or task must be directly related to the person's disability, such as guiding a person with impaired vision, or alerting a person with impaired hearing. Caltech permits students to use service animals in connection with all Institute facilities, programs, and activities consistent with its obligations under federal and state law.

The person who requires the assistance of a service animal is responsible for keeping the animal harnessed, leashed, or tethered at all times, unless these devices interfere with the animal's work or the person's disability prevents using these devices, in which case the person must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal, or other effective controls.

A student wishing to live with a service animal in Institute housing must inform CASS in a timely manner, so that appropriate arrangements can be made, and so that the expectations for the appropriate care and behavior of the animal living on campus may be discussed.

Emotional Support Animals:


An "emotional support animal" (ESA) is an animal that alleviates one or more symptoms or effects of a person's disability, and is necessary to afford the person an equal opportunity to use and enjoy Caltech housing. An ESA may be necessary to provide physical assistance, emotional support, calming, stability, and other kinds of assistance. Caltech permits students with disabilities to have an ESA reside with them in Caltech housing, consistent with federal and state law.

Caltech does not allow ESAs anywhere other than the Caltech housing that is occupied by the registered student. Moreover, that student is responsible for keeping the animal harnessed, leashed, caged or tethered at all times, unless these devices interfere with the animal's work or the student's disability prevents using these devices, in which case the student must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal, or other effective controls.

A student wishing to bring an emotional support animal into Caltech housing must request that accommodation from CASS at least 30 days in advance. Any student who introduces an unapproved animal into Caltech Housing will be subject to a $200 fine; will have two weeks to remove the animal; and may lose their housing privileges, per Caltech's Pet Policy. The approval of a request is animal-specific and is not transferable to another animal. Only one ESA will be approved per student, unless the medical provider gives justification for more than one animal (based on additional need).

Students seeking to have an ESA in undergraduate or graduate housing must submit a request for review each academic year. A request for a returning ESA should be submitted at the same time housing selection begins for Caltech Housing each April, in order to guarantee consideration. There are designated spaces for approved animals within a variety of areas across Caltech housing. In order to allow for other students who have allergies and/or phobias, approved ESAs will ordinarily be placed/moved into those spaces. 

A student who wishes to have an ESA in Caltech Housing must register with CASS; sign the CASS confidentiality agreement; give their signed consent form to an outside psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker, physician or other health care professional who has an established treatment relationship with the student; and then submit the Request for Information Re: Emotional Support Animal to CASS once it has been completed by that professional. Please note that CASS does not accept letters from the numerous online companies who (in exchange for a fee) offer verification or certification for the need of an ESA. The animal may not take up residence before it has been approved. 

CASS will determine, on a case-by-case basis, and in collaboration with other appropriate offices on campus, whether to approve the student's request for an ESA. In making this determination, CASS will consider the needs of the student; the impact of the animal on other members of the housing facility and Caltech community; and whether the available and/or assigned space is appropriate for the animal. The request will be denied if accommodating the request will impose an undue hardship on Caltech; if the animal poses a direct threat to the safety of others; or would cause substantial physical harm to Caltech property or the property of others. The student may be required to move to alternate Caltech housing, depending upon housing location, in order to best accommodate them and/or the animal. 

The decision of the CASS will be provided to the student in writing. If the request for an ESA is approved, the student will be required to sign an Emotional Support Animal Agreement. Residential Life staff will make a reasonable effort to notify the other residents in the housing unit where the ESA will be located. This notice will be limited to information about the animal's presence as an accommodation to a student with a disability: there will be no disclosure of the student's disability. 

Other resident students with medical condition(s) who are directly and negatively impacted by animals (e.g., respiratory diseases, asthma, severe allergies) are asked to contact CASS if they have a health or safety related concern about exposure to an ESA. Such affected students may be eligible for a disability accommodation when living in proximity to an ESA. Roommates of students with ESAs will be asked to sign an Animal Roommate Agreement

CASS, Residential Life, and Caltech Housing staff will collaborate, as necessary, to resolve conflicts related to an ESA. Staff members will consider the needs and/or accommodations of all resident students involved. If the student's ESA causes damage to the student's unit or the common areas of the housing facility, the student will be charged for the cost of repairing the damages and may be asked by Caltech Housing to remove the animal if the animal's behavior continues.