Service animal policy

Service animals are animals trained to assist people with disabilities in the activities of normal living. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) definition of service animals is any "...animal individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including, but not limited to, guiding individuals with impaired vision, altering individuals who are hearing impaired to intruders or sounds, providing minimal protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, or fetching dropped items." (28 CFR Ch. I § 36.104). If an animal meets this definition, it is considered a service animal regardless of whether it has been licensed or certified by a state or local government or a training program. (United States v. Lehouillier (2010)).

The ADA and the University of Nevada , Reno policy allow service animals accompanying persons with disabilities to be on the University of Nevada , Reno campus. A service animal must be permitted to accompany a person with a disability everywhere on campus.

This policy differentiates "service animals" from "pets," describes types of service dogs, denotes campus locations that are off-limits to service animals, and sets behavioral guidelines for services animals.

Service animal terminology

  • Partner/Handler:A person with a service or therapy animal. A person with a disability is called a partner; a person with a disability is called a handler.
  • Pet: A domestic animal kept for pleasure or companionship. Pets are not permitted in university facilities, except the veterinary clinic.
  • Service Animal: Any animal individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability. If there is a question about whether an animal is a service animal, contact the Disability Resource Center.
  • Therapy/Companion Animal:An animal with good temperament and disposition, and who has reliable, predictable behavior, selected to visit people with disabilities or people who are experiencing the frailties of aging as a therapy tool. The animal may be incorporated as an integral part of a treatment process. A therapy/companion animal does not assist an individual with a disability in the activities of daily living. The therapy/companion animal does not accompany a person with a disability all the time, unlike a service animal that is almost always with its partner. Thus, a therapy/companion animal is not covered by laws protecting service animals and governing their activities.
  • Trainee:An animal undergoing training to become a service animal. A trainee will be housebroken and fully socialized. To be fully socialized means the animal will not, except under rare occasions, bark, yip, growl or make disruptive noises; will have a good temperament and disposition; will not be aggressive. A trainee will be under control of the handler, who may or may not have a disability. If the trainee begins to show improper behavior, the handler will act immediately to correct the animal or will remove the animal from the premises.

Requirements of faculty, staff and students

  1. The partner/handler and service animal must meet with the Disability Resource Center prior to the first day of class. An appointment must be made with the Disability Resource Center. Bring vaccination records and service animal to the appointment.
  2. Allow a service animal to accompany the partner at all times and everywhere on campus except where service animals are prohibited.
  3. Do not pet a service animal; petting a service animal when the animal is working distracts the animal from the task at hand.
  4. Do not feed a service animal.
  5. Do not deliberately startle a service animal.
  6. Do not separate or attempt to separate a partner from his or her service animal

Requirements of service animals and their partners/handlers

  1. Licensing and Vaccination: The animal must be licensed and immunized in accordance with the laws, regulations, and ordinances of the City of Reno , Washoe County , and the State of Nevada.
  2. Licensing: All dogs over the age of four months must obtain a license from the City of Reno. Call (775) 858-1616 for more information.
  3. Health: The animal must be in good health. Service animals that are ill should not be taken into public areas. A partner with an ill animal may be asked to leave university facilities.
  4. Leash: The animal must be on a leash or otherwise under the control of the Partner/Handler at all times.
  5. Under Control of the Partner/Handler: The partner/handler must be in full control of the animal at all times. The care and supervision of a service animal is solely the responsibility of its partner/handler.
  6. Cleanup: The partner must clean up after the animal defecates. The feces must be disposed of properly either by burial or wrapped in a plastic bag and put in a waste receptacle. Note: Individuals with disabilities who physically cannot clean up after their own service animal shall not be required to pick up and dispose of feces. However, the individual is required to notify the Disability Resource Center so that other accommodations can be made.

When a service animal can be asked to leave


The partner of an animal that is unruly or disruptive (e.g., barking, running around, bringing attention to itself) may be asked to remove the animal from university facilities. If the improper behavior happens repeatedly, the partner may be told not to bring the animal into any university facility until the partner takes significant steps to mitigate the behavior. Mitigation can include muzzling a barking animal or refresher training for both the animal and the partner.


Partners with animals that are unclean, noisome and or bedraggled may be asked to leave university facilities. An animal that becomes wet from walking in the rain or mud or from being splashed on by a passing automobile, but is otherwise clean, should be considered a clean animal. Animals that shed in the spring sometimes look bedraggled. If the animal in question usually is well groomed, consider the animal tidy even though its spring coat is uneven and messy appearing or it has become wet from weather or weather related incidents.

Areas off limits to service animals

Research laboratories

The natural organisms carried by dogs and other animals may negatively affect the outcome of the research. At the same time, the chemicals and/or organisms used in the research may be harmful to service animals.*

Areas where there is a danger to the service animal

Any room, including a classroom, where there are sharp metal cuttings or other sharp objects on the floor or protruding from a surface; where there is hot material on the floor; where there is a high level of dust; or where there is moving machinery is off-limits to service animals. (e.g., mechanical rooms, custodial closers, wood shops, metal/machine shops)*

*Note: Professors may make exceptions on a case by case basis. The final decision shall be made based on the nature of research or machinery and the best interest of the animal.


Any partner dissatisfied with a decision made concerning a service animal should contact the University Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action office and follow the University of Nevada, Reno ADA Accommodation Appeal/Grievance Procedure.