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Service Animals on Campus - Guidelines and Procedures


The following information is provided to help define the role and the place of animals relative to facilities, employment, and residence halls at Cal Poly in promoting disability access.

Service Animals on University Premises

Disabled individuals may be accompanied by their service animals on all Cal Poly premises where members of the public or participants in services, programs or activities are allowed to go. A service animal means any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. If a dog meets this definition, it is considered a service dog regardless of whether it has been licensed or certified by a state or local government or a training program. In rare circumstances, a miniature horse may serve as a service animal.

Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals.

The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual's impairment. Examples of such tasks include, but are not limited to: assisting an individual with low vision with navigation; alerting individuals who are hard of hearing to the presence of people or objects; pulling a person's wheelchair; or providing assistance with stability or balance to an individual with mobility impairment.

Federal law does not require the individual to provide documentation that an animal has been trained as a service animal. The University may, however, ask two questions:

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

A person licensed to train guide dogs for individuals who are blind or visually impaired; signal dogs for individuals who are deaf or hearing impaired; or service dogs for individuals with a disability may take said dogs into the same university premises defined above for the purpose of training them as guide dogs, signal dogs, or service dogs. However, such dogs must be leashed and tagged in accordance with applicable state or federal laws, and the person shall be liable for any provable damage done to the premises or facilities by his or her dog.

Exclusions of service dogs are determined on an individualized basis and when one of the following conditions exists:

  • The dog is disruptive and not effectively controlled;
  • The presence of the service dog would fundamentally change the nature of the job, service, or activity;
  • The service dog’s presence, behavior, or actions pose an unreasonable or direct threat to property and/or the health or safety of others;
  • The dog is not housebroken.

When circumstances arise which would justify evaluating the presence of a service dog, the Disability Resource Center and/or Human Resources will use the following criteria:

  • The student/employee using the service dog has a disability and the dog is trained to perform certain tasks related to the individual’s impairment; or
  • The dog is a licensed assistance dog-in-training.

The University is not responsible for the care or supervision of a service dog. Individuals are responsible for:

  • The well-being of a service dog as well as the cost of any damages as a result of the service dog;
  • The immediate clean-up and proper disposal of all animal waste;
  • The control of the animal at all times. Reasonable behavior is expected from service dogs. If a service dog, for example, exhibits unacceptable behavior, the individual is expected to employ the proper training techniques to correct the situation;
  • Harnessing, leashing, or tethering the service dog, unless an individual’s disability precludes the use of a restraint or if the restraint would interfere with the service animal's safe, effective performance of work or tasks;
  • Following all requirements for the presence of animals in public places mandated by State or local ordinances (vaccination, licensure, animal health, leash).

Under California law, it is a misdemeanor to knowingly and fraudulently represent oneself as the owner or trainer of a dog licensed as a guide, signal or service dog.

Assistance Animals in University Housing and Employment

Federal law allows individuals with disabilities the presence of a broader range of animals (assistance animals) in University housing and worksites as compared with the campus as a whole. By law, an assistance animal means any service animal, as defined above, as well as an animal needed for emotional support. Assistance animals perform many disability-related functions, including but not limited to, guiding individuals who are blind or have low vision, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing to sounds, providing protection or rescue assistance, pulling a wheelchair, fetching items, alerting persons to impending seizures, or providing emotional support to persons with disabilities who have a disability-related need for such support.

An individual may keep an assistance animal as an accommodation in University housing or worksites if: 1) the individual is disabled; 2) the animal is necessary to afford the individual an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling or perform the necessary duties of a job; and 3) there is an identifiable relationship between the impairment and the assistance the animal provides.

The Disability Resource Center will, in partnership with University Housing, determine on a case-by-case basis, and in accordance with applicable laws and regulations, whether the animal is a reasonable accommodation in University housing. The Human Resources will assist departments with determining, on a case-by-case basis, and in accordance with applicable laws and regulations, whether an animal is a reasonable accommodation in a worksite.

The University may exclude an assistance animal from University housing or the worksite if the animal is not housebroken; would cause substantial damage to the property of others; would pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others; would fundamentally alter the nature of a program or activity; or is not being cared for by the individual.

The University is not responsible for the care or supervision of assistance animals.  Individuals are responsible for the control of their assistance animals at all times and for ensuring the immediate clean-up and proper disposal of all animal waste.  Individuals must comply with all applicable laws and regulations, including vaccination, licensure, animal health and leash laws.

Individuals Denied Access

Faculty, staff, guests, or visitors who are either denied access of an assistance animal or feel they have been unreasonably questioned should contact the Campus 504/ADA Coordinator, Civil Rights and Compliance Office director, who has been designated to coordinate the efforts of Cal Poly to comply with all relevant disability laws.

Students should contact either the Disability Resource Center or the Dean of Students.

Employees Questioning Whether an Animal Qualifies as a Service Animal

Any University employee questioning the appropriateness of a service animal in a University facility should report their concern to an immediate supervisor. Supervisors can contact Human Resources.

Admission of a service animal may be denied if an individual answers “No” to the question: “Is the animal required because of a disability?” Additionally, admission may be denied if the individual is unable to describe any work or task that the dog has been trained to perform.

Admission of a dog-in-training may be denied if the dog is unleashed or lacks the appropriate identification tag/license under California law.


Effective Date: May 2014
Review Frequency: Annually
Responsible Officer: Disability Resource Center

Revision History

Date Action Pages
6/2014 Revised guidelines and procedures were published on the web All
5/2014 Revised policy draft submitted to the CAP Office All
5/2014 Revised policy, guidelines and procedures reviewed and approved by DACC All
Winter 2014 Based on input from CAP, University Legal Counsel and others, returned document to DACC to separate into policy supported by guidelines and practices All
12/2013 Draft submitted to Campus Administrative Policies (CAP) Office All
11/2013 Reviewed and approved by DACC All
Summer 2013 Revised based on DACC feedback All
6/2013 Reviewed by full Disability Access and Compliance Cpmmittee (DACC) All
5/2013 Drafted by Disability Access and Compliance Committee (DACC) subcommittee All

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