A Comfort Animal is an animal that provides emotional support that alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a resident’s documented disability. Some Comfort Animals have been trained to work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a mental/psychiatric disability, but in some cases no training is required. For example, the Comfort Animal may remind an individual to take medication at specified times, search rooms, warm bodies during panic attacks, interrupt checking and other repetitive behaviors, interrupt dissociative episodes or flashbacks, stay with the person during acute emotional distress, and alert the owner to manic episodes or panic attacks. Unlike a Service Animal, Comfort Animals do not assist a resident with a disability with daily activities or accompany them at all times, and it is confined to the personal living space of the individual.
Comfort Animals must be approved by the Office of Accessibility Servcies (OAS). The student will be responsible for any and all damages caused by the presence of the Comfort Animal that results in damage to the residence, and agrees to indemnify and hold harmless Emory University for any liability to third parties that may result from the student’s keeping of the Comfort Animal.
Owner’s Responsibilities to Emory Housing
Before a comfort animal can move into Emory Housing with a person with a disability, a request must be submitted to Emory’s OAS and approval must be granted before the animal can move into the residence. OAS may require documentation from a licensed physician or mental health provider, including without limitation a qualified psychiatrist, or other mental health professional, to provide sufficient information for Emory to determine:
- That the individual qualifies as a person with a disability.
- That the comfort animal may be necessary to grant the person with a disability an opportunity to enjoy Emory’s residential community (i.e. that the animal would provide emotional support that would enrich one or more symptoms of the disability).