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Service and Support Animals at Stanford

Stanford students walking at graduation ceremony with a service dog

Stanford University complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in allowing the use of service animals by students, staff, faculty and visitors while on campus.  The University also complies with the Fair Housing Act in allowing student the use of support animals that are approved as an accommodation in student residence.  Consistent with its obligations under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), staff and faculty may request to bring a support animal as a workplace accommodation. Below is information describing the policies, procedures and offices responsible for evaluating and approving the use of service animals and support animals on campus.


Stanford has a “no pet policy” in the workplace and in student residences.  Students, staff and faculty with disabilities may request an exception to the policy by requesing a disability related accommodation. The following policies have been developed to provide guidance for students, staff and faculty with disabilities with a process for requesting and evaluating animal-related accommodations: 


A Service Animal is a dog (sometimes referred to as a guide dog or signal dog) that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability.  In some cases, a miniature horse may be permitted as a service animal.  All other types of animals do not qualify as a service animal.  The work or task a service animal has been trained to do must be directly related to the individual’s disability.  For example, a guide dog who assists an individual who is blind with navigation, a dog who alerts a person who is deaf, or a dog who retrieves items for a person using a wheelchair. Similarly, a person with a seizure disorder may use a service animal that is trained to detect when the individual is going to have a seizure and/or remind them to take their medication. Service animals are typically allowed to accompany the individual with a disability wherever they go, including to class, work, eateries, public transportation, residences, etc.

A Support Animal (sometimes referred to as an assistance animal, comfort animal, therapy animal or companion animal) is an animal that provides emotional or other support/assistance that alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person’s disability.  Unlike a Service Animal, a Support Animal does not necessarily assist a person with a disability with activities of daily living, nor does it accompany a person with a disability at all times. A Support Animal can be a form of a disability-related accommodation and if approved by the appropriate University administrator may be allowed in the workplace and/or in student residences (see FAQ #1 below for the appropriate office and/or administrator). Support animals are generally not allowed in public spaces such as classrooms or cafeterias. 

Students Requesting Service or Support Animals

Students using service animals are permitted in all campus buildings, including university housing. Generally, students using support animals are restricted to the individual’s assigned housing unit and are not permitted in other campus buildings. Undergraduate and graduate students using service animals, as well as those requesting a support animal while on campus, should contact the Office of Accessible Education (OAE) prior to bringing the animal to campus in order to effectively coordinate the accommodation request. Students must submit their request and appropriate supporting documentation (as needed) for evaluation. If a disability is not obvious, the OAE will require documentation from a licensed health care provider.

Students approved for the use of a service or support animal must adhere to University guidelines regarding responsibilities of owner. Housing Assignment Services will review these guidelines with the owner and will work closely with the student to identify housing options based on availability.

Employees Requesting Service or Support Animals

Employees requesting the use of service or support animal as a workplace accommodation should first review the Administrative Guide Policy: 2.2.7 Requesting Workplace Accommodations for Employees With Disabilities, and then contact their supervisor or human resources manager (HRM). This policy outlines the process for requesting a workplace accommodation, including the type of documentation that may be required, the evaluation of the request and how to resolve disagreements related to the request. 

Employees approved for the use of a service or support animal in the workplace are responsible for the care and clean up of the animal. Likewise, employees must adhere to University guidelines regarding the responsibilities of owners, and the use of a service or support animal while on campus.

Visitors Requesting Service or Support Animals

Visitors should note that the University restricts pets and support animals from public spaces on campus, with the exception of service animals. Visitors accompanied by their service animal shall be accommodated in all public spaces such as concert halls, athletic venues, cafeterias, museums, etc. Visitors must adhere to University guidelines regarding the use of a service animal while on campus.

If frequent and/or prolonged visits will occur, such as attending professional development courses or conferences, participation in a summer program or camp, etc., visitors should contact the Diversity and Access Office to coordinate their accommodation request. Medical documentation from a licensed healthcare provider may be requested if a disability is not obvious.

Reporting Concerns Regarding Service or Support Animals

Stanford may require any individual to promptly remove any service or support animal from campus that does not abide by the above requirements and expectations, or that poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others. In such an event, the individual, but not the animal, will remain welcome on campus; and the University will need to engage in an interactive discussion with the individual with a disability to determine whether an alternative form of accommodation can be implemented.

University officials may also report any service or support animal to the city and county animal control authorities which it reasonably believes is not being maintained in compliance with animal health and safety provisions, or any instance where Stanford believes that an animal is being abused by the person it serves.

Emergencies related to service or support animals: Dial 911 immediately for any emergency, health or safety concern related to any animal posing a direct threat to the health or safety of anyone on campus.

To report a concern of discrimination on the basis of disability or those who may not have received a disability-related accommodation, please contact the Diversity and Access Office

Frequently Asked Questions

For additional information, see our Frequently Asked Questions