Service Animals, Comfort/Therapy/Assistance Animals, and Other Animals on Campus

This page provides information for employees, students and visitors bringing animals to the William & Mary campus or on university property.  Specifically, information is provided about:

Service Animals

A service animal as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) refers to "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 also includes dogs in training that are at least 6 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.

Service animals are permitted on campus in compliance with the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act, as a reasonable accommodation for a disability.  William & Mary welcomes the presence of trained service animals (or those in training) assisting people with disabilities on its campus, in areas open to the public, consistent with the guidelines provided below and applicable law.

Campus Housing
Service animals in training are not permitted to live in campus housing unless they are assisting a student with a disability.  Service animals assisting students with disabilities are welcome in campus housing as a reasonable accommodation.  Students needing a service animal to reside in campus housing must submit documentation to Student Accessibility Services

A link to Frequently Asked Questions about service animals is provided below.

Comfort/Therapy/Assistance Animals

A comfort/therapy/assistance animal (only for students) refers to an animal that provides comfort or emotional support just by being with a person.  Assistance animals are not permitted in university buildings, unless an accommodation has been granted.  Comfort animals may be allowed to live with a student in on-campus housing residence.  Comfort/therapy/assistance animals are an accommodation covered by the Fair Housing Act.   Comfort animals can be any type of animal.  Decisions about comfort/therapy/assistance animals in campus buildings or living in campus housing are made on a case-by-case basis.  Students wishing to have assistance animals on campus must provide documentation to Student Accessibility Services.

Guests and visitors staying in university residences, for example while attending a conference on campus, are also entitled to bring comfort or therapy animals on campus.  


A pet is a domestic animal kept for pleasure or companionship.  Pets are not permitted in university buildings.

The employee dog policy applies to all university employees, including faculty, hourly and wage employees, as well as volunteers, contract workers, vendors, and others affiliated with the university.  This policy was created to protect employees from possible allergies and to allow them to feel safe in their workspace.  This policy does NOT apply to service dogs or service dogs in training.

Other Information/Questions about Service Animals?

This list of frequently asked questions addresses common concerns, and provide additional information regarding service animals on campus.  The U.S. Department of Justice provides a more comprehensive list of questions and answers. 

Employees or applicants for employment with questions related to accommodations should contact the Office of Diversity & Inclusion (757) 221-2615.  Students or prospective students with questions related to accommodations should contact Student Accessibility Services (757) 221-2059.  For other questions related to ADA or Rehabilitation Act compliance, contact the Office of Compliance & Equity (757) 221-2743.

Updated April 2019