Animals in Residence

Emotional Support/Service Animal

Emotional Support/Service Animals

When and after approval by the Office of Student Disability Services and in order to provide reasonable accommodations and in compliance with federal law, students may have one Service or Emotional Support Animal (ESA) in the residences.

A Service Animal 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. Service animals may accompany its owner anywhere in the residence halls.

An ESA provides comfort to an individual with a disability upon the recommendation of a healthcare or mental health professional. An emotional support animal does not assist a person with a disability with activities of daily living but rather its role is to live with a student and alleviate the symptoms of an individual’s disability to provide equal opportunities to use and enjoy residential life at the University. ESAs must remain in the owners assigned room at all times.

Important rules and responsibilities on owner care and handling:

  • The ESA should reside in your bedroom and not any space shared with another resident (such as the bathroom or kitchen) or outside the residence hall. The ESA is not permitted in common spaces in your building (such as lounges), other residences, dining halls, academic buildings, or any other space outside of your room, with the exception of when being taken for a walk or transported off campus, as noted below.
  • If your roommates cannot or do not wish to have an animal in their residence, the Housing Assignments Office will work with individuals to relocate the ESA owner or a roommate or roommates and place whomever is relocated to a similar residence.
  • If the ESA is in the room when you are not in your room, the ESA must remain in its crate/fishbowl/cage/or similar product to allow for safe entry of University personnel who may need to enter your apartment for maintenance or safety purposes.
  • The ESA must comply with all applicable laws, as well as all PA licensure and vaccination requirements. A current license and vaccination record for your ESA will be required prior to moving into the residence with ESA. This information must remain current during the period of this approval and be presented to the Housing Assignments Office.
  • The ESA is not to leave the residence except with you for, as applicable, walks, visits to the veterinarian, etc. While on University property, the ESA must be under your control at all times, whether in your room in the residence or outside. When transporting the ESA outside, you must use a leash or carrier.
  • If the ESA leaves the residential facility and is not in a crate, kennel, or any other device in which the animal is kept, the ESA must wear a collar, which must include your contact information, at all times.
  • The ESA must not pose a threat or disruption of any kind to roommates or others in the residence or the Penn community. If the ESA poses a threat, injury or disruption of any kind, (1) the ESA may be removed from the building (either permanently or temporarily) and/or boarded elsewhere at the ESA’s owner’s expense and/or (2) the Office of Student Disability Services may revoke the accommodation and you may be required to remove the ESA from the residence.
  • Your ESA must be house trained, which includes litter box training and/or trained to relieve itself outside. Any accidents must be cleaned immediately using appropriate cleaning products. Litter boxes, crates, kennels, and any other device in which the animal is kept must be cleaned daily. Waste must be bagged in plastic bags and securely tied. Waste must be disposed of in outdoor trash receptacles or trash chutes when available in the residence (or as directed by a building administrator). Litter of any type may not be disposed of anywhere in your residence, such as in a trash can, or in toilets or drains.
  • You may not leave your animal in the residence if you leave the residence for 24 hours or more. For example, the ESA may not remain in residence if you leave your room for an extended period, such as: (1) for longer than a day of classes, (2) a trip which will last overnight or longer, and (3) during break periods. The ESA has been approved to live in the residence with you. As a result, ESA sitting is not permitted. You cannot leave your ESA with other students in the residence or have anyone else come to your room with the intent to take care of the ESA. If you are not able to bring the ESA with you, you are expected to find an off-campus location to provide care for the ESA while you are away.
  • If an ESA is found unattended in a residence (except during your time in classes, etc.) or it is learned that you have left the animal unattended in violation of the above paragraph, the ESA will be removed from the building and boarded elsewhere at the ESA owner’s expense.
  • You are responsible for all damages or injuries to either property or person(s) resulting from your ESA. Damages in your room or residence hall resulting from an ESA may result in charges to your account.
  • If you decide you no longer will have the ESA in residence you must notify the Housing Assignments Office who will also notify the Office of Student Disability Services.
  • If you wish to replace the ESA with a different animal, (such as replacing a cat with a dog) you must reapply through the Office of Student Disability Services for a new accommodation.

Individuals other than the owner should never touch or handle an animal unless invited to do so. Individuals other than the owner should not feed the animal, startle the animal, attempt to separate the animal from the owner, or inquire for details about the owner’s disability or reason for having a Service or Emotional Support Animal.

College Houses & Academic Services and Residential Services reserve the right to exclude or remove any animal that poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others or creates an unreasonable and unmanageable disturbance to the community. Back to top


Pets are not permitted in residences, except for fish of a size that can be appropriately kept in an aquarium not larger than 20 gallons. All roommates must agree upon the presence of an aquarium. Other pets are not permitted for several reasons: they pose potential health problems; they can cause destruction of University property; and they can be disruptive to other residents. “Visiting” pets are not permitted. Violations of the policy will carry the following potential sanctions:

  • Residents will have 48 hours from first being contacted by a University official to permanently relocate the animal to an off-campus location.
  • Residents will incur a $50 per day fine each day beyond the first 48 hours.
  • Repeat offenses will result in the immediate and permanent loss of housing privileges and the forfeiture of any potential rent refund due under the normal rent refund policy. Back to top