Emotional Support Animal Guidelines

In keeping with the Fair Housing Act, GW recognizes the importance of emotional support animals for students with disabilities.

Procedures were established to ensure that GW residents who require the use of emotional support animals as a reasonable accommodation receive the benefit of the therapeutic support the animals provide. GW is committed to ensuring equal access to the university’s residence halls and has set forth specific requirements and guidelines regarding the use of assistance animals through the Procedures for Emotional Support Animals documentation. GW reserves the right to amend these procedures, without notice, as needed.

We share responsibility with the Colonial Health Center, Campus Living and Residential Education (CLRE) and the Center for Student Engagement for implementing and enforcing these procedures.

Approval for an Emotional Support Animal

Register with DSS, and provide the necessary documentation to initiate a request for the approval of an assistance animal as a formal accommodation.

Continuing Students

If you are requesting approval for an emotional support animal for the upcoming academic year, you must submit your request by May 1.

New GW Students

If you are requesting approval for an emotional support animal upon matriculation to the university, for the upcoming academic year, you must submit your request by June 1.

If your request is late, it is not guaranteed that your accommodation needs will be met, including any needs that develop during the semester.

Supporting Documentation

With your request, you are required to provide necessary supporting documentation from a licensed health care or mental health provider. The health care provider must be reliable and qualified to make the requested assessment and must submit a signed letter on professional letterhead indicating the:

  • diagnosis of the nature of the your disability
  • opinion that the condition affects a major life activity
  • professional opinion that the assistance animal is necessary to provide emotional support that alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of your disability
  • assessment of the relationship between the disability and the assistance or relief that the animal provides

After we receive your request and documentation, we will engage with you and appropriate health care providers, if necessary, to determine the details of the accommodation, if any.

Once notified of the approval, you must then provide current vaccination and licensing documentation.  In accordance with all local ordinances and regulations, the animal must be vaccinated against disease.


Emotional Support Animals may not reside in university housing without written approval from university officials. 

Additionally, only animals who meet the definition of a service animal have access to any other university facilities. Approved Emotional Support Animals are restricted to your specific housing assignment.