Service Animals

A service animal is an animal trained to perform tasks for an individual with a disability, including physical, sensory, mental, psychological, intellectual, or other mental disabilities. Service animals do not always have a harness, sign, or symbol indicating that they are service animals. Washington state law does not restrict the type of animal that can serve as a service animal; however, only service animals that are dogs or miniature horses are permitted in University food establishments.

It is the policy of the University of Washington to provide individuals with disabilities requiring the use of a service animal an equal opportunity to access University property, courses, programs, and activities.

Service animal owner’s responsibilities

The service animal’s owner is responsible for:

  • Keeping the animal under direct control
  • Ensuring that the animal is not disruptive
  • Cleaning up after the animal immediately and disposing of waste and debris promptly
  • Dealing with any damage or injury caused by the service animal
Service animal owner’s rights

University employees must allow a service animal to enter a facility with its owner when it is readily apparent that the animal is trained to perform tasks for the individual. If the need is not apparent, only the following two questions may be asked:

  • Is the service animal required because of a disability?
  • What tasks has the animal been trained to perform?

The following may not be requested:

  • Information on the nature of the individual’s disability
  • Medical information
  • Documentation or proof that the animal is a service animal
  • Demonstration of the animal’s ability to perform tasks

If there is any doubt that an animal is required because of a disability, the animal should be permitted to enter into the facility with its owner, and then the ADA Coordinator should be contacted.


Please view the Service Animals at the University of Washington training video.  Captions may be turned on or off by clicking on the CC button.


Members of the public

Members of the general public and their service animals may generally go wherever access to the public is granted, although there may be exceptions based on the use of the space (such a biologically sensitive sites). The Disability Services Office (DSO) is available to answer questions and provide additional services and resources.

Students’ service animals are permitted in any buildings or locations where students are allowed.  Students who own service animals are not required to register their service animal with the University.  Students may, however, contact their designated disability services office for assistance with proactively informing other University employees – such as faculty, advisors, or building coordinators, for example – that the service animal should be allowed access.
Residents of University housing

Requests to use service animals or therapy animals in University housing must be made through the appropriate housing office or designated disability services office.

Service animal owners who use their animal during their employment can seek an accommodation by contacting the Disability Services Office (DSO).

Complaint Reporting

Concerns regarding service animals can be directed to the ADA Coordinator, who is responsible for conducting the necessary assessments regarding service animals for all University locations. Phone (206) 543-9717 or email (If there is an immediate risk of danger to people or property dial 911.)

The University Complaint Investigation and Resolution Office (UCIRO) is responsible for investigating complaints that a University employee has violated the University’s policies relating to the ADA/Rehabilitation Act and relevant federal, state, and local laws.

Complaints may also be filed with the following state or federal agencies:

U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)