Service and Support Animals

For the university policy concerning Service, Assistance, and Pets at USC, visit:

Service Animals in public areas of the University

The University of Southern California permits the presence of trained Service Animals assisting individuals with disabilities on its campus in areas open to the public, consistent with the provisions of the USC Service and Assistance Animal policy and applicable law.  A Service Animal is generally permitted to be on University property in any place where the animal’s handler is permitted to be, although there are specific locations and activities on University property where all animals are prohibited for health and safety reasons. Exceptions to restricted areas may be granted on a case-by-case basis by the ADA/504 Coordinator, or the Office of Student Accessibility Services, upon consultation with the department/program chair responsible for the restricted area, as appropriate.  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.

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:

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

It is strongly recommended that individuals with disabilities who intend to bring a Service Animal into campus buildings notify the University of the need for a Service Animal’s presence in advance of bringing the Service Animal to campus allowing the University to provide the individual relevant information about the campus and any potential challenges. The individual with the disability may be asked whether the Service Animal is needed because of a disability and what work or task the Service Animal has been trained to perform. The appropriate campus unit(s) may work with the individual with the disability to ensure that the individual has the proper information to provide care for the Service Animal, such as identification of relief areas.

A Service Animal must have a harness, leash, or tether unless the handler’s disability precludes use of tethers, or the tether would interfere with the Service Animal’s ability to safely perform its work or tasks. In these cases, the Service Animal must be under the control of the handler (i.e., voice commands, hand signals, or other effective means).  Members of the University community and visitors are prohibited from interfering in any way with a Service Animal or the duties it performs.

The University reserves the right to deny access to campus, or remove from campus, any Service Animal or Assistance Animal if a) the animal is disruptive or out of control and its owner does not take action that is effective to control it, b) the animal is not housebroken (i.e. cannot control waste elimination), c) the animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others that cannot be eliminated or reduced to an acceptable level by a reasonable modification to other policies or procedures, or d) the owner fails to comply with their responsibilities under the Service and Assistance Animal Policy.

Any incidence of violations of any University policy may result in immediate removal of the animal from the University and, if appropriate, referral to the Office of Human Resources or the Office of Community Expectations for disciplinary action. While not a typical scenario, if a Service Animal or Assistance Animal is banned from campus, the individual with a disability will have the right to engage in an interactive process to determine if effective participation can occur with other appropriate accommodations.

Assistance Animals in public areas of the university

Assistance Animals, sometimes referred to as emotional support or therapy 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.

Event planners are encouraged to seek guidance from the Office of Institutional Accessibility and ADA Compliance should you receive a request for an Assistance Animal accommodation.