Service Animal Guidance

A service animal is permitted on campus grounds and within university buildings and housing. This practice follows Titles II and III of the American with Disabilities Act, as amended (ADA) and the Fair Housing Act (FHA).

Federal regulations define service animals as dogs, or in some cases, miniature horses, that are trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Tasks performed can include, among other things, pulling a wheelchair, retrieving dropped items, alerting a person to a sound, reminding a person to take medication, and pressing an elevator button.

An animal that meets this definition, is considered a service animal regardless of whether or not the animal has received formal training through an agency. A service animal is a working animal, not a pet.

Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the disability of the person who needs the service animal’s assistance.

A student is not required to submit an accommodation request to bring a service animal into a university building, with the exception of University housing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does a service animal have to be on a leash?

It depends. Service animals must be under control, which means harnessed, leashed, or tethered, unless the device interferes with the service animal’s work or the individual’s disability prevents using the device. In that case, the individual must maintain control through voice, signal, or other effective controls.

When can service animals be excluded or removed?

Service animals are allowed in public facilities. If a particular service animal is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it, or if it is not housebroken, that animal may be excluded or asked to be removed from the premises. Service animals may be excluded from certain areas where the animal’s presence may compromise a sterile environment. In teaching labs where hazardous materials may harm a service animal, the instructor of record should have an interactive conversation about the hazards with any student accompanied by a service animal. If an animal is excluded, the individual with a disability is given the opportunity to participate in the service, program, or activity without having the service animal on the premises.

What can University affiliates ask to determine if an animal is a service animal?

The University at-large will not ask about the nature or extent of a person’s disability to determine whether a person’s animal qualifies as a service animal. However, when it is not readily apparent that an animal is a service animal, members of the University community may make two inquiries to determine whether the animal qualifies as a service animal, which are:

  1. Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability, and;
  2. What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

Can service animals be any breed of dog?

Yes. The ADA does not restrict the type of dog breeds that can be service animals

Can individuals with disabilities be refused access to a facility based solely on the breed of their service animal?

No. A service animal may not be excluded based on assumptions or stereotypes about the animal's breed or how the animal might behave. However, if a particular service animal behaves in a way that poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others, has a history of such behavior, or is not under the control of the handler, that animal may be excluded. If an animal is excluded for such reasons, staff must still offer their goods or services to the person without the animal present.

Do service animals have to wear a vest or patch or special harness identifying them as service animals?

No. The ADA does not require service animals to wear a vest, ID tag, or specific harness.

My city / college offers a voluntary registry program for people with disabilities who use service animals and provides a special tag identifying the dogs as service animals. Is this legal under the ADA?

Yes. Colleges and other entities, such as local governments, may offer voluntary registries. Many communities maintain a voluntary registry that serves a public purpose, for example, to ensure that emergency staff know to look for service animals during an emergency evacuation process. An entity may not, however, require that a dog be registered as a service animal as a condition of being permitted in public places. This would be a violation of the ADA.


US Department of Justice. (2015). Frequently Asked Questions about Service Animals and the ADA.