University of Washington Policy Directory

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*Formerly part of the University Handbook
Administrative Policy Statement

Service Animals

(Approved by the President per delegations of authority Executive Order No. 9
and Administrative Order No. 10)

1.  Purpose

It is the policy of the University of Washington to afford individuals with disabilities who require the assistance of a service animal equal opportunity to access University property, courses, programs, and activities.

This policy complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 as amended; Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (P.L. 93-11) and 45 CFR Part 84; Fair Housing Act of 1968 42 U.S.C. 3601 et seq.; Chapter 49.60 RCW; and Chapter 478-128 WAC.

2.  Definitions

Owner: Owner means any person having an interest in or right of possession to a service animal, or any person having control, custody, or possession of a service animal.

Service Animal: A service animal means any dog or miniature horse that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability, including physical, sensory, psychological, intellectual, or other mental disability. The work or tasks performed by the service animal must be directly related to the individual's disability. The crime deterrent effects of an animalís presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks.

Therapy Animal: A therapy animal is an animal that provides emotional support or passive comfort that alleviates one or more of the identified symptoms or effects of a disability. A therapy animal (also known as an emotional support animal or comfort animal) is not a service animal under this policy. Access for therapy animals is evaluated similarly to any other request for accommodation and should be directed to the designated disability services office.

3.  Where Service Animals Are Allowed

Generally, owners of service animals are permitted to be accompanied by their service animal in all areas of the University's facilities and programs where the owner is allowed to go. Such areas include public areas, public events, classrooms, and other areas where University programs or activities are held. Limited exceptions for service animal access are noted in Section 8.

4.  Assessing Service Animal Status

  A. Permitted Inquiries

University personnel must permit service animal access to an event or activity with its owner when it is readily apparent that the animal is trained to do work or perform tasks for its owner. Examples include a dog guiding an individual who is blind or has low vision, pulling an individual's wheelchair, or providing assistance with stability or balance to an individual with an observable mobility disability.

If the need for the service animal is not apparent, University personnel may only ask the following of service animal owners:
  • Whether the service animal is required because of a disability; and

  • What work or task the animal has been trained to perform.
If the owner states that the animal is required because of a disability and that the animal has been trained to do work or a task for the owner, then the service animal must be admitted. (See Section 8 for areas where a service animal may be excluded.) If there is any doubt that an animal is a service animal, University personnel should admit the animal and then consult with the ADA Coordinator regarding future access.

Service animal owners must not be asked about the nature of their disability or for medical documentation of it, except as provided in Sections 9 and 11. Owners may not be asked for a special registration, identification card, license, or other documentation that the animal is a service animal, or to demonstrate the animal's ability to perform work or tasks.

  B. University Assistance

Service animal owners are not required to register their service animal with the University. Service animal owners, including students and guests, who regularly access University buildings are encouraged to contact the designated disability services office (see Section 13). The disability services office can then assist the owner by providing advance notice to University personnel, such as faculty, advisors, building coordinators, etc., that the owner and service animal are entitled to access. Employees with service animals should follow the process outlined in Section 11.

5.  Service Animal Owners' Responsibilities

Service animal owners are responsible for complying with Chapter 478-128 WAC, Animal Control at the University of Washington, including:

  • Keeping the service animal under their direct control at all times, such as by a harness, leash, or other tether; however, if the use of a harness, leash, or other tether interferes with the service animal's safe, effective performance of work or tasks, or if the owner's disability prevents the use of such devices, then the service animal must be under the owner's control through voice control, signals, or other effective means;

  • Ensuring the service animal does not disturb or disrupt normal academic or administrative functions;

  • Immediately cleaning up after the service animal and properly disposing of the service animal's waste or other debris;

  • Preventing the service animal from entering any pond, fountain, or stream located on University premises; and

  • Complying with any relevant city, county, and/or state license and leash laws while the service animal is on University premises.

The owner is responsible for damage or injury caused by the service animal.

6.  Removal of Service Animals from University Facilities

University personnel may only ask service animal owners to remove their service animal from University premises or from the immediate area as follows:

  • If the service animal is not under the owner's direct control or the service animal is disturbing or disrupting the normal administrative, academic, or programmatic routine, then the owner must first be given an opportunity to get the animal under control. If the disruption or disturbance continues, then the owner may be asked to remove the animal; or

  • If the presence, behavior, or actions of the service animal constitutes an immediate risk or danger to people or property, the owner can be asked to immediately remove the animal and 911 (emergency assistance) may be contacted.

If asked to remove the service animal, the owner must be offered the opportunity to return to the University premises or the immediate area without the service animal and be provided with reasonable assistance at that time to participate in the University service or program.

A service animal may only be excluded for an individual event based on its or the owner's behavior at that event. The service animal or its owner cannot be excluded from future events based on a problem at a past event, except as provided in Section 7.

Owners with concerns about the removal of their service animal should contact the ADA Coordinator (See Section 14).

7.  Violations of Policy

Depending on the seriousness of the animal's conduct or repeated conduct, service animals may be excluded from University property temporarily or permanently. The ADA Coordinator is responsible for conducting the necessary assessments regarding ongoing or permanent removal of a service animal. If a service animal is excluded, the designated disability services offices are available to assist in evaluating reasonable accommodations for the owner.

Owners who violate this policy or disregard an instruction to remove or exclude a service animal from University property may be subject to additional penalties, including banning from any University property, or other fines or penalties under applicable city, county, or state rules, regulations, or laws. Violations of this policy by an owner who is a University student or employee may be referred for corrective or disciplinary action.

8.  Restrictions on Access for Service Animals

A service animal may be restricted from specific areas of the University when consistent with other University policies, state, and/or federal laws/regulations. Examples of these areas may include:

  • Food preparation areas;
  • Animal research facilities and grounds;
  • Medically sensitive patient and clinic areas; and
  • Biologically sensitive or hazardous research sites.

If a service animal is restricted from certain areas, the designated disability services offices are available to assist in evaluating reasonable accommodations for the owner.

9.  Service Animals and Therapy Animals in 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 (see Section 13).

10.  Service Animals in University Food Establishments

In accordance with RCW 49.60.218, only service animals are permitted in University food establishments, defined as all University restaurants and stores that serve the general public without restriction. University residential housing kitchens and food preparation areas located in common use areas for residents are not considered University food establishments, but are part of residential housing and are covered in Section 9.

11.  Employees with Service Animals

Under Administrative Policy Statement 46.5, "Policy on Reasonable Accommodation of Employees With Disabilities," University employees who require the use of a service animal in the workplace should make a request for an accommodation. For more information and to make a request for a workplace accommodation, contact the Disability Services Office (see Section 13).

12.  Service Animals in Training

Service animals in training may be permitted, but are not entitled to, the same access as service animals. The University employee with authority over the building area (per Administrative Policy Statement 13.4) has the discretion whether to permit access to service animals in training. Any individual bringing a service animal in training on University property is responsible for complying with this policy including Section 5, and Chapter 478-128 WAC.

13.  Designated Disability Services Offices

Disability Services Office(For members of the public, all University employees, and nonmatriculated students enrolled at UW Seattle.)

Disability Resources for Students UW Seattle (For matriculated students enrolled at the UW Seattle campus and for students in University housing.)

Disability Resources for Students UW Bothell (For all students enrolled at the UW Bothell campus.)

Disability Support Services UW Tacoma (For all students enrolled at the UW Tacoma campus.)

14.  University ADA Coordinator

The University's ADA Coordinator is available to review individual concerns relating to compliance and to provide compliance support for programs, departments, campuses, schools, and colleges relating to discrimination based on disability and providing access and reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities.

15.  Complaint Resolution Resources

Individuals who wish to make a complaint that a University employee may have violated the University's nondiscrimination and/or non-retaliation policies, including a failure to permit access to a service animal under this policy, may contact:

University Complaint Investigation and Resolution Office (UCIRO)

Individuals who wish to file allegations of discrimination also may contact the following:

United States Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR)
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Washington State Human Rights Commission

16.  History

October 2, 2015; RC, November 12, 2015; January 28, 2019.

For related information, see: