Skip to content

Service Animals

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.

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 defines a service animal as a dog or in some cases a miniature horse. Please note this reflects the updated Washington State definition of a service animal, effective January 1, 2019.

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 as biologically sensitive sites). For more information, please contact a disability office:


Academic and General Environments

Students’ service animals are permitted in any buildings or locations where students are allowed.  Students who own service animals are not required to register a 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.

Housing Environments

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

For more information, please contact:


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

Rights and Responsibilities

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.

Training & Resources

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: