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Housing - Emotional Support Animals

Requesting a Support Animal in Student Housing at UC Merced

UC Merced values diversity and inclusion. We welcome students with disabilities who require service animals and support animals (often referred to as an Emotional Support Animal, ESA)​ ​to manage daily living. This document will provide guidance for the process of registering a service animal and requesting an ESA in student housing.

Please review the UCM Animal Policy at definitions of a support animal, a service animal, and other useful information.

Students interested in having an ESA in campus housing must submit a housing accommodation request through the SAS website. Generally,
the presence of only one ESA will be approved for a student, in order to fulfill the intent of the FHA requirements in providing support to the student with a mental health disability.

Students or visitors who have questions about having a support animal on campus grounds (outside of housing) can contact SAS at: 209-228-6996. Service dogs ​do not​ need to be approved by the SAS as a reasonable accommodation. A service animal identification vest or harness is not​ ​required.

Steps for Requesting a Support Animal

Part 1: Submit a Housing Accommodation Request

Fill out and submit an accommodation request through the SAS website -

While filling out the form please include this informatiion in your request:

What type of animal are you requesting (dog, cat, hamster, etc)?

How does this animal address your symptoms?

Is the animal part of a comprehensive treatment plan? Please explain.

Part 2: The following information will be needed from a licensed therapist or licensed mental health professional​.

1. Is the student diagnosed with a diagnosis specifically found in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM) 5?

2. What is the nature/functional limitations of the disability?

3. Is this an animal that you specifically prescribed as part of treatment for the student, or is it a pet that you believe will have a beneficial effect for the student while in residence on campus?

4. What disability-related symptoms will be reduced by having the ESA?

5. Is there evidence that an ESA has helped this student in the past or currently?


Consistent with other U.S. colleges and universities (members of the Association on Higher Education and Disability), UC Merced does not accept some licensed provider's letters of verification of disability-related need for an Emotional Support Animal. UCM recommends that the student should have an established treatment relationship with a licensed provider before seeking an ESA recommendation. Student Accessibility Services does not recommend paying a fee for an ESA letter. ​We​ ​reserve the right to request additional information from the recommending licensed professional.

Next Steps

SAS will review the documentation when the student’s accommodation request and the licensed care provider’s response to the above prompts are received. Allow ten business days for the determination to be made. In some cases SAS may request a follow up appointment to review the request and ask for clarifying iniformation. Once a decision has been made the student will receive notification by email. SAS will then send on the decision to the Housing office.

Schedule Your Final Exams!

Our office is now scheduling accommodated exams for finals! Email your finals schedule to or come in person to our office (ACS 140) to schedule your final exams. Please try to schedule your final exams before Wednesday, May 1st 2024. More information about how to email your finals schedule featured on the the home page of MyAccess portal. Good luck on finals!