An emotional support animal is defined as an animal that provides companionship, emotional support, wellbeing, or comfort, which eases one or more identified symptoms or effects of a disability. Emotional support animals are not individually trained or trained to perform specific actions or tasks to assist individuals with disabilities.  An ESA is not considered service animal. under the ADA.

Individuals with disabilities may request from the Access Center approval to have their ESA accompany them to MSU Denver classes, meetings and events.   The Access Center will engage in an interactive discussion with the individual, review any documentation to support the individual’s need for the ESA to accompany them to class, and give consideration to the type of animal and other relevant factors including how the presence of the ESA could adversely impact the learning and/or instructional process in the classroom.   An ESA is not allowed in the classroom until this process has been completed and Access Center approval has been given in writing.

ESA Approval Process

  1. MSU Denver students who are requesting to bring an ESA to class must schedule a meeting with the Access Center.
  2. Student must provide supporting documentation to be approved to bring an ESA to class as an accommodation based on their disability.
  3. The determination of whether the ESA meets the qualifications of a reasonable accommodation is made by Access Center staff, based on whether documentation provided is from a qualified and current provider and supports that (1) the individual has a disability; (2) the animal is necessary to afford the individual an equal opportunity to attend and participate in class; (3) the animal is an active part of a treatment plan for the individual; and (4) there is an identifiable relationship between the disability and the assistance or support the animal provides.


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Requirements of ESA and Their Owners

    1. Dogs must be licensed and vaccinated in accordance with City of Denver regulations.
    2. Other types of animals must have vaccinations appropriate for that type of animal.
    3. ESA must be in good health.
    4. ESA must be harnessed, leashed, tethered or restricted from roaming free by another method.
    5. ESA must be clean/free of odors.
    6. Reasonable behavior is expected from ESA while on campus. If a dog, for example, exhibits unacceptable behavior, the owner is expected to employ the proper training techniques to correct the situation. The owners of disruptive and aggressive ESA may be asked to remove them from university facilities. If the improper behavior happens repeatedly, the owner may be told not to bring the ESA into any facility until they take significant steps to mitigate the behavior.
    7. Individuals with ESA may not leave an ESA unattended or in the care of another individual in University facilities or on University property, overnight or longer, even if the animal is crated.

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Areas Restricted to ESA

The University may prohibit the use of ESA in certain locations due to health or safety restrictions, where ESA may be in danger, or where their use may compromise the integrity of certain research. Such restricted locations include, but are not limited to, food preparation areas, certain research laboratories, mechanical rooms/custodial closets, wood/metal/machine shops, classrooms with demonstration/research animals, areas where protective clothing is necessary, and/or other areas where the animal’s presence may constitute a danger or a fundamental alteration of the program or activity conducted in the area. Access to restricted areas may be granted on a case-by-case basis by contacting the Director of the Access Center or the ADA Coordinator. The University will pursue an interactive process to determine whether or not admission of the ESA will be granted or denied.


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Removal of ESA

The University has the authority to remove an ESA from its grounds or facilities if the ESA becomes unruly or disruptive, unclean, and/or unhealthy to the extent that the animal’s behavior or condition poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others or otherwise causes a fundamental alteration in the University’s services, programs, or activities. If such behavior or condition persists, the owner may be directed not to bring the animal into public campus areas until the problem is rectified.


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Appeal Procedure

In the event of a dispute about an accommodation relating to a ESA, or an animal restriction, a student may file a grievance. For more information, review our Grievance/Complaint Procedures for Students with Disabilities.

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For More Information

Any questions regarding these guidelines may be directed to the Access Center Director, (303) 615-0200.

Contact Us

Hours of Operation

Main Office: Monday - Friday, 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Accommodated Testing: Monday - Thursday, 8:30 am - 4:30 pm

Main Office

Office Location: Plaza 122
Phone: (303) 615-0200
[email protected]

Accommodated Testing Office

Office Location: Plaza 124
Phone: (303) 615-0199
[email protected]