Service and Support Animals

For the university policy concerning service, assistance, and other animals at USC, visit:

Service animals in public areas of the university

Service animals must be permitted to accompany people with disabilities in all public areas of the university. Service animals may include any breed of dog, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) offers an exception for a miniature horse; all other forms of animals are not considered service animals under the ADA. The following must apply for an individual to qualify to have a service dog on campus:

  • The individual must have a disability as defined by the ADA.
  • The service dog must be trained to complete a specific task or function for the individual that is related to the individual’s disability.

University employees may not ask about the nature or extent of a person’s disability to determine whether a person’s dog qualifies as a service dog. When it is not obvious what service the dog provides, university employees may make two inquiries to determine whether the dog qualifies as a service dog, which are:

  • Is the dog required because of a disability?
  • What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

University employees cannot require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task. Service animals are not required to wear a vest, ID tag, or specific harness.

Individuals with disabilities who require a service dog will not be denied access when another individual on the premises is allergic to dogs. In such instances, both parties should consult with the appropriate USC department or individual to determine if both parties can be accommodated.

It is important to remember that a service dog is a working dog. Individuals should not distract or engage with the service dog as this may put the handler at risk.

Should an individual with a service dog attend an event, additional space may be needed to accommodate the service dog. Consider asking if the individual will need additional space to accommodate the service dog. It is also important for event organizers to know where to guide the handler should the service dog need bathroom breaks and/or disposal of waste.

Assistance animals in public areas of the university

Assistance animals, sometimes referred to as emotional support animals, are generally not permitted inside public areas of the university. The use of an assistance animal in public areas may be allowed as a reasonable accommodation for students through established university procedures with the Office of Student Accessibility Services , or contact your dedicated HR partner.

If permitted as accommodation, assistance animals and their owners are subject to the same requirements and restrictions described in university policies that are applicable to service and other animals. Assistance animals may be any species or breed, with the exception of zoonotic animals. Typically, only one assistance animal is considered a reasonable accommodation and in some cases an assistance animal may not be a reasonable accommodation. For events, it may be unusual to allow an assistance animal, and you should seek guidance from the Office of Institutional Accessibility and ADA Compliance.