Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals are different by definition and therefore follow different guidelines. See below the major differences between the two:

Service Animal Emotional Support Animal
May only be a dog or a miniature horse May be any animal
Specifically trained to perform tasks for the individual with a disability Is not trained to perform work or tasks for the individual with a disability
Tasks performed are related to major life activities such as hearing, navigating, and caring for oneself. The primary purpose of the service animal may NOT be emotional support, therapy, or comfort Is prescribed to an individual by a licensed physician to assist with emotional support needs related to the individual's diagnosed disability
Can accompany the individual anywhere on campus, excluding those areas where all animals are prohibited for safety and health reasons Must remain in the individual's assigned on-campus dwelling, with the exception for leashed walks in areas where events are not taking place
Must be registered with SDS only if entering campus housing Must be approved by SDS through the accommodations process

Once you have determined the category your animal falls under, see below for more specific procedures. Please also see the full Service and Emotional Support Animals on Campus Policy for more details.

Service Animals

  • The Americans with Disabilities Act defines a service animal as "any dog or miniature horse 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."

    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
    • helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors 

    Federal and state law specifically excludes animals whose primary purpose is emotional support, therapy, or comfort from the definition of service animal.

    1. Fill out the SDS Service Animal Registration Form
    2. Return completed form by email ( or fax (470-578-9111)

Emotional Support Animals

  • An emotional support animal is not a pet. An Emotional Support Animal (ESA) is one that can be kept in residence as prescribed for a person with a disability as a reasonable accommodation to provide him/her an equal opportunity to use and enjoy campus housing.

    Such requirement must be documented by a licensed medical and/or a mental health professional as needed due to one or more identified symptoms or effects of the person’s disability. Typically, an emotional support animal is prescribed to an individual with a disability by a licensed physician with training in the area of the person’s disability, who has treated the person with a disability for at least 6 months, and who can establish the nexus between the disability and the need for the emotional support animal.

    A student may qualify for this accommodation if:

    • the student has a documented disorder that rises to the level of a disability;
    • the animal is necessary to afford the student with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy their dwelling; and
    • there is an identifiable and documented nexus between the disability and the assistance that the animal provides.
    • Students must receive approval to have an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) in residential housing through Student Disability Services (SDS). Students must submit the following items to be considered: online Intake Form and appropriate documentation of disability as detailed in the Documentation Guidelines.
      Students may request a licensed clinical professional to complete the Documentation for ESA Accommodation Request Form to assist with providing the requested documentation.

    • The Disability Service Provider will review documentation, make determinations, and communicate with the appropriate members of Residence Life. Like all disability accommodations, the determination of whether or not an ESA will be permitted in on-campus housing is made on a case-by-case basis through an interactive process between the student and Student Disability Services.

    • Once approved, SDS will notify the Residence Life Office. A Residential Life staff member will contact the student to discuss the residential life options based on the documented needs related to the emotional support animal and any other housing accommodations approved through the process.

    • Students should be aware that housing options may be limited as the University balances appropriate accommodations to students with disabilities with students who have allergies and/or animal fears. Consequently, advance notice (as soon as possible) of the need for an animal is essential to the University providing a smooth transition for the student.

    • ESAs are generally not allowed to accompany persons with disabilities in all public areas of Kennesaw State as a service animal is allowed to do. Instead, an ESA may reside in college housing, including accompanying the person in public or common areas of the person’s housing when it may be necessary to afford the person with a disability equal opportunity to use and participate in the college housing program.

    Other Important Information 

    • A current immunization/health record for the ESA may be requested for proof that the animal is in good health.
    • The care and supervision of the ESA is solely the responsibility of the student owner. The student must be in full control of the ESA at all times.
    • ESAs may not pose a direct threat to the health and safety of persons on the college campus, cause physical damage to property, or fundamentally alter the nature of University operations.
    • The ESA must be maintained (kept clean, free from fleas or ticks, etc.) and may not create safety hazards for other people.
    • The University will allow only those ESAs that are allowed by local and state laws and conform to standards within these laws.