Rights and Responsibilities

Rights and Responsibilities of Students, Employees, and Campus Visitors With Service Animals

These rights and responsibilities are specific to service animals.  Federal law defines a service animal as "a dog individually trained to do work for the benefit of an individual with a disability including, but not limited to, guiding individuals with impaired vision, alerting individuals who are hearing impaired to intruders or sounds, providing minimal protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair or fetching dropped items."  Virginia law includes dogs in training that are at least six months of age.  Revised ADA regulations have a new, separate provision about miniature horses that have been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.

Emotional support animals that are not service animals are subject to different guidelines.  If you are unsure of the type of animal, please visit the main animals on campus website for definitions and explanation.  

General Guidelines
  • Service animals are the full responsibility of the individual with the disability.  The animal must be under the owner's control at all times.
  • Service animals must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered, unless these devices interfere with the service animal’s work or the individual’s disability prevents using these devices. In that case, the individual must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal, or other effective controls. Exceptions may be granted in an emergency situation when the animal is in the owner’s private residence, when the animal needs to perform a task requiring it to travel beyond the length of the restraint, or when the owner is unable to retain an animal on a leash due to a disability.
  • Virginia law requires all dogs to be licensed.  Proof of vaccination is required to obtain a license.  See Virginia Code Title 3.2, Chapter 65, Article 5. 
  • The owner is responsible for removing or arranging for the removal of the animal’s waste. This will result in placing the waste in a closed container and then removing the container to an outdoor trash bin. Owners who live in W&M housing may need to designate an individual to help with clean up.  (See Student Rights and Responsibilities below for more information about living in a W&M residence hall with a service animal.)
  • Individuals may be responsible for any damage that is caused by their animals.
  • Service animals generally are permitted to be anywhere on campus where the animal's owner is permitted to be; however, there may be areas where animals are prohibited due to health and safety concerns.  Such areas include but are not limited to research laboratories, mechanical rooms, custodial closets, food service preparation areas, areas where protective clothing is necessary, or areas where there is a danger to the service animal.
  • Members of the university community are only permitted to ask two questions of someone with a service animal:
    1. Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
    2. What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?
    You may not request proof of a disability or certification of the service dog's training.  

Student Rights and Responsibilities

Students are encouraged to register service animals (or those in training) that will be on campus with Student Accessibility Services.  This will allow William & Mary to make any appropriate accommodations for other students, faculty or staff who may have allergies, phobias or service animals of their own.  See below for information about campus housing requirements. 

Campus Housing
Students with a disability who need a service animal to live in campus housing must contact Student Accessibility Services.  Service animals in training are permitted in campus housing only as an accommodation for students with disabilities. 

Employee Rights and Responsibilities

Employees needing to bring their service animal (or service animal in training) to work with them must contact the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.  Generally, service animals are allowed to access the same areas on campus that their owners are permitted to access; however, there may be areas where animals are prohibited due to health and safety concerns.  Such areas include but are not limited to research laboratories, mechanical rooms, custodial closets, food service preparation areas, areas where protective clothing is necessary, or areas where there is a danger to the service animal.

Campus Visitor Rights and Responsibilities

Campus visitors and guests are permitted to have service animals (or those in training) on campus.  Generally, service animals are allowed to access the same areas on campus that their owners are permitted to access; however, there may be areas where animals are prohibited due to health and safety concerns.  Such areas include but are not limited to research laboratories, mechanical rooms, custodial closets, food service preparation areas, areas where protective clothing is necessary, or areas where there is a danger to the service animal.

Updated October 2019