Animals on Campus

Service Animals

Service Animals (SA) are defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as dogs, or miniature horses, that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. 

Work/Tasks: Work/tasks may include, pulling a wheelchair, guiding a person who is low vision or blind, alerting a person who is having a seizure, or even re-directing a person diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. 

Animals whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.

Emotional Support Animals

Emotional Support Animals (ESA) are animals that provide comfort or a therapeutic benefit to its owner through companionship. ESAs can be any animal and generally applicable within University Housing in accordance with the Fair Housing Act.

Support/Comfort: The animal provides emotional support to help treat or reduce symptoms of mental health conditions beyond the typical pet/owner relationship. 

An ESA is not specifically trained to perform tasks specific to a person’s disabilities and are not covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Please review our Planning for an Emotional Support Animal document for more information on bringing an animal to campus. 

Service Animals in Training

North Carolina State Law states that an animal in training to become a service animal may be taken into any of the places listed in G.S. 168-3
• for the purpose of training
• when the animal is accompanied by a person who is training the service animal and
• the animal wears a collar and leash, harness, or cape that identifies the animal as a service animal in training.

A Service-Dog-in-Training is a dog accompanied by its trainer (“a person training a service animal”) that is undergoing individual training to provide specific disability-related work or service for an individual with a disability.  This does not include obedience training or socialization of dogs who may later become service animals.  A service animal trainer may bring such dog onto campus public areas for the purpose of work tasks training if it is properly identified as a service animal in training.

Where are SA and ESAs permitted on campus?

Service Animals (SA)

Students and employees with Service Animals should contact the Office of Access & Equity prior to bringing the SA to campus. Students and employees living within University Housing must receive animal approval prior to bringing an approved SA or ESA within campus housing. The University welcomes visitors to bring their Service Animals as defined under the American's with Disabilities Act are welcome. 

Service Animals as defined by the ADA are permitted in all areas students, members of the public, and other participants in services, programs or activities are permitted to go. 


An ESA may be approved for on-campus housing. It is not granted access to places of public accommodation, including food-service facilities, classrooms, or non-residential buildings. 

Students and employees living within University Housing must receive animal approval prior to bringing an approved SA or ESA within campus housing.

How do I know if an animal is a SA or ESA?

If the animal is not a dog or miniature horse, the animal is not permitted within University facilities unless specific ODR approval has been given for University Housing.

If the service that the dog, or miniature horse, provides is not observable, a person can make two inquiries.

  1. Does the animal perform a task due to a disability?
  2. What tasks is the animal trained to perform?

Service Animals are trained to take a specific action when needed to assist the person with a disability. 

  • Examples: alerting to a drop in blood sugar or blood pressure, or a guide dog for a blind/low vision individual.
  • However, if the dog’s mere presence provides comfort and reduces anxiety, that would not be considered a service animal under the ADA and the dog is not permitted.

Individuals are not allowed to request any documentation, require that the SA demonstrate its task, or inquire about the nature of the person’s disability. Cards, certificates or documentation from the handler should not be accepted.

If you have questions about the task performed, you should contact the ODR to discuss further.

What if an animal is being disruptive?

All animals on-campus in any capacity must be under the handler’s control at all times.  If an animal is being disruptive, misbehaving or being  aggressive, then the animal may be removed.

For more in-depth information please view the University's Animals on Campus policy.