Use of Service Animals on Campus


Policy Statement

This policy governs the use of service animals on the campus of Washington and Lee University ("W&L" or "the University") as a reasonable accommodation for a disability, in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act ("Section 504"), and Virginia law on "guide or leader dogs." W&L welcomes the presence of trained service animals assisting people with disabilities on its campus in areas open to the public consistent with the provisions of this policy and applicable law.


This policy applies to all students and employees, as well as to all campus visitors.


Handler: The individual with a disability using a service animal on the W&L campus.

Service Animal: A service animal is defined exclusively as 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 under the applicable laws noted above. (On a limited case-by-case basis, a miniature horse that has been similarly individually trained may also qualify as a service animal.) The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual's disability. Tasks may include, but are not limited to, guiding individuals with impaired vision, alerting individuals with impaired hearing to sounds, pulling a wheelchair, retrieving dropped items, turning off/on switches, assisting during a seizure, or providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability. The term service animal does not include any untrained dog or any other species of animal, whether trained or untrained (with the limited exception for trained miniature horses). Animals (including but not limited to dogs), that provide assistance or emotional support to a person with a disability, but that are not individually trained to do work or perform tasks for individuals with disabilities, do not meet the definition of a service animal.


Service Animal Use on Campus - - Processes for Different Campus Constituents

*Note: W&L may prohibit the use of service animals in certain locations ("restricted areas") due to health or safety restrictions (such as food preparation areas), where service animals may be in danger, or where their use may compromise the integrity of research (such as clean labs). Exceptions to restricted areas may be granted on a case-by-case basis by the Director of Public Safety, the Director of Environmental Health and Safety, or the department/program chair responsible for the restricted area, as most appropriate.

Visitors: Visitors to campus using service animals may use all public facilities with the exception of any restricted areas. The Director of Public Safety, (540) 458-8999, shall resolve any questions or issues related to use of a service animal by a campus visitor, in consultation with the Office of General Counsel.

Students: Students with a disability who wish to use a service animal in classrooms, libraries, and in other public areas of campus are encouraged to contact the appropriate administrator [Title IX Coordinator and Director of Disability Resources, (540) 458-4055 (undergraduate students), or Assistant Dean for Law Student Affairs, (540) 458-8162 (law school students)] to facilitate use of the service animal across campus, and to discuss any other needed resources, information, or requested disability accommodations. Students and admitted students requesting to have a service animal live with them in campus housing should make a special housing request as soon as possible, but not later than thirty (30) days prior to the desired move-in date, by contacting the Dean of Student Life, (540) 458-8754. W&L reserves the right to request additional clarification or documentation upon receipt of a request for a service animal to live in campus housing, in accordance with applicable law and University procedures for special housing requests. Students wishing to resolve any disputed matters under this protocol should address those to the appropriate administrator designated above in this paragraph. An appeal from a decision of the Dean of Student Life regarding a service animal in campus housing should be directed to the Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students. Students wishing to appeal a decision of another designated Dean regarding use of a service animal elsewhere on campus should be directed to the Provost in accordance with the applicable student disability accommodation policy appeal process - Undergraduate Policy ( or Law School Policy (

Employees: Employees with a disability who wish to use a service animal as a reasonable accommodation in a University office or other areas of W&L's campus not open to the general public will need to contact the Executive Director of Human Resources, (540) 458-8250, and request such an accommodation through the Employee Disability Accommodation Policy (

Determination of Service Animal Status

When it is readily apparent to a University employee that a dog is trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability under this protocol (for example, if the dog is observed guiding an individual who is blind or has low vision, or pulling a person's wheelchair, or providing assistance with stability or balance to an individual with an observable mobility disability), no further inquiry should be made to determine that the dog is a service animal under this protocol, and is thus allowed in areas open to the public on campus. However, when not readily apparent, University employees may elicit additional information only as it is necessary to make a determination: (1) that the dog is required due to a disability; and (2) of what specific work or tasks the dog has been trained to perform. W&L will not inquire about the nature or extent of the individual's disability before allowing use of the dog as a service animal in public areas on campus, nor require documentation of the dog's certification or training.

If an individual seeks to use a miniature horse on campus as a service animal, the University will consider whether the particular horse qualifies as a miniature horse, has been individually trained to perform tasks for people with disabilities, and can be accommodated in accordance with further assessments provided for in applicable federal regulations, beyond the inquiries set forth in the paragraph above.

Service Dogs in Training

Service dogs in training are permitted in public areas on campus on the same basis as working service animals, provided that all of the following Virginia law conditions are met (Va. Code Section 51.5-44):

    1. The dog is at least six months of age;
    2. The dog is either (i) in harness and in training as a guide dog for the blind or visually impaired, (ii) on a blaze orange leash and in training as a hearing dog, or (iii) in a harness, backpack, or vest identifying the dog as a trained service dog, and in all such cases accompanied by a person who is an experienced trainer of such service dogs or conducting continuing training of a guide/hearing/service dog and is wearing a jacket identifying the recognized service dog organization.

Requirements, Rights, and Responsibilities Related to Service Animals on Campus

A service animal will be the full responsibility of its handler and shall be under the control of its handler at all times, whether by harness, leash, voice control, signals, or other effective means. The handler of a service animal is solely responsible for appropriate care of the animal and for complying with state and local requirements regarding rabies and any other vaccinations (the service animal must wear a valid vaccination tag), as well as state and local requirements regarding licensure and leash control. The service animal's handler is responsible for prompt and thorough clean up and disposal of animal waste in a closed container and appropriate trash bin. A service animal handler needs to be sure that the animal is kept clean and that the service animal is regularly bathed, groomed and treated for fleas and ticks. The handler of a service animal will be solely responsible for any damage caused by the service animal. W&L is not responsible for the care or supervision of any service animal.

W&L may require a service animal to be removed from campus if the University finds any of the following: (1) the animal is out of control and the animal's handler does not take effective action to control it; (2) the animal's handler is mistreating or neglecting the animal; or (3) the animal is not housebroken. Further, consistent with federal and state law, a service animal may be excluded from a campus facility or program if its presence poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others, fundamentally alters the nature of a program or activity, or would result in substantial damage to property. Decisions to remove a service animal from campus will be made on a case-by-case basis and, in the event of removal or restriction of use of a service animal, W&L will afford a reasonable accommodation in place of the service animal.

Persons with Conflicting Conditions

Individuals with medical conditions or other circumstances that are adversely impacted by the presence of a service animal should communicate with the Executive Director of Human Resources or the appropriate Administrator designated above, as applicable.

Revision History

Revised July 1, 2018 to add Assistant Dean for Law Student Affairs to handle law school student disability matters.

Revised August 10, 2016 to update titles of designated administrators to handle student disability matters.

Revised August 1, 2015 to replace references to the Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students to the Associate Dean for Administration and Student Affairs (law school).

Revised January 30, 2015 to replace references from the Assistant Law Dean for Student Affairs to the Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students.