Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals

The Americans with Disabilities Act defines a service animal as "any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the handler's disability. Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to, assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, providing non-violent protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, assisting an individual during a seizure, alerting individuals to the presence of allergens, retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities, and helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors. The crime deterrent effects of an animal's presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition."

The disabling condition must be severe enough to substantially limit one or more major life activities, such as the ability to see or hear, speak, breathe, learn, work, think or take care of oneself. An animal that meets this definition is considered a service animal and is allowed to accompany the person with a disability to class meetings, services, activities, programs, field trips, or residences and to be allowed anywhere on campus unless specifically prohibited by this policy or federal/state law.

In addition, Georgia law (OCGA 30.4.2) provides that any Partner who is accompanied by a dog in training to be a service dog or a dog being raised to be trained as a service dog is required to be given the same degree of access to which a disabled Handler assisted by a service dog is entitled under applicable federal law.

Federal and state law specifically excludes animals whose primary purpose is emotional support, therapy, or comfort from the definition of service animal. However, Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) are allowed in residence halls only as an accommodation through Disability Services. The student must register with DS, provide adequate documentation, and have an ESA approved before bringing the ESA on campus. Per Residence Life and MGA policy, the emotional support animal is not allowed in public spaces on campus, and only allowed in the student’s dorm room. Per Residence Life policy, all roommates must be made aware and agree to the presence of animal in the residence hall.

Please see our full Service Animal & ESA Policy.