Service and Emotional Support Animals
Note: Students who bring animals into Caltech student housing prior to approval by Caltech may be subject to a fine, removal of the animal, and/or other penalties.
A "service animal" is a dog, or miniature horse, that is individually trained to perform work and/or tasks for a person with a disability. The work and/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. CASS will not ask about the nature or extent of a student's disability, but when it is not readily apparent, CASS may ask the student if the animal is required because of a disability and what work or task they have been trained to perform. Caltech does not require documentation for service animals, such as proof that the dog has been certified, trained, or licensed as a Service Animal.
Students who are approved to have a service animal in Caltech housing will be required to sign a Service Animal Agreement. Caltech may require removal of an approved service animal if there is any violation of any of the terms and conditions of the Service Animal Agreement. Residential Life staff will make a reasonable effort to notify the other residents in the housing unit where the service animal 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.
Please be aware that the City of Pasadena requires proof of rabies vaccination as part of the mandatory city registration process for all dogs. Dogs living in Pasadena, unless medically exempt, must also be neutered or spayed. Please plan to have this documentation available to provide to the housing office.
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.
Students may not bring their ESAs to any Caltech facilities outside the Caltech housing unit where they reside. This means that ESAs are not permitted inside classrooms, labs, offices, dining facilities, or other campus buildings. 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.
Caltech may require removal of an approved emotional support animal if there is any violation of any of the terms and conditions of the ESA Agreement, which students must complete as part of the approval process. 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.
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.
A student wishing to bring an emotional support animal into Caltech housing must request that accommodation from CASS at least 30 days in advance.
Here is a brief overview of the process. Please read the entire section thoroughly for more details.
Step 1: Provide CASS with documentation from a mental health provider (with whom you have an established treatment relationship) that supports your need for an ESA.
Step 2: After reviewing your documentation, CASS will schedule an intake appointment with you to discuss your request.
Step 3: CASS will notify you of the decision in writing. Denials may be appealed under the disability grievance procedure.
Step 4: If approved by CASS, students will then be contacted by the Housing Office and the Office of Residential Experience to fill out an ESA Agreement form and meet with them to discuss rules and expectations.
Important: Any student who brings an animal into Caltech Housing prior to the completion of the full approval process will be subject to a $350 fine; will have two weeks to remove the animal; and may lose their housing privileges, per Caltech Housing's Pet Policy.
It is strongly recommended that students begin this process well before the start of the school year. There are designated spaces for approved animals within a variety of areas across Caltech housing, and approved ESAs will ordinarily be placed/moved into those spaces. The approval process may take longer if an ESA is requested after housing assignments have already been made, as the housing office must ensure that an ESA does not adversely impact other students living nearby, such as those with respiratory or sensory conditions, severe allergies, or phobias.
A student who wishes to have an ESA in Caltech Housing must provide appropriate documentation of the need for the ESA completed and signed by an outside psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker, physician or other health care professional who has an established treatment relationship with the student. To fulfill this requirement, students may submit a letter from the provider discussing whether the student has a need for the animal to help treat a qualifying disability, and/or have the provider fill out the CASS ESA documentation form.
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 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).
All cats and dogs living in Pasadena must be current on their rabies vaccines and, unless medically exempt, be neutered or spayed. Dogs must also be registered with the City of Pasadena. Please plan to have this this documentation available to provide to the housing office.
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 student may be required to move to alternate Caltech housing, depending upon housing location, in order to best accommodate them and/or the animal.
A request for an assistance animal may be denied as unreasonable if the presence of the animal:
- Imposes an undue financial and/or administrative burden
- Fundamentally alters Caltech's housing program
- Poses a direct threat to the health and safety of the student or others; or
- Would cause substantial property damage to property.
Animals who exhibit aggressive or destructive behavior or have potential to transmit zoonotic diseases will not be approved.
The decision of the CASS will be provided to the student in writing. Denials may be appealed under the disability grievance procedure. If the request for an ESA is approved, the student will be required to sign an Emotional Support Animal Agreement. Once approved, students should visit the Caltech Housing ESA page for additional instructions.
Please note that an ESA approval does not guarantee on-campus housing.