William & Mary

Frequently Asked Questions

What can service animals do for someone with a disability?
  • serve as a travel guide for a person who is blind
  • alert a person who is deaf or hard of hearing when a sound occurs
  • carry items, fetch medications or a telephone
  • ring doorbells, activate elevator buttons
  • alert a person with a seizure disorder that a seizure is about to take place
What are the expectations and responsibilities for those who have service or assistance animals on campus?

The animal is the sole responsibility of the person with the disability, and must be fully under their control.  According to Virginia Law, service dogs must be licensed and display a license on their collar at all times.  All animals must be immunized against rabies/and other diseases common to the type of animal.  Animals must have an annual clean bill of health signed by a veterinarian, and a vaccination tag must be worn by the animal at all times.  Owners are responsible for removal and disposal of the animal's waste.  Owners need to make sure animals are kept as clean as possible to include regular bathing and grooming. Owners are responsible for any damage to property caused by service animals.

Do service animals have to be kept on a leash?

Per ADA regulations, service animals must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered unless these devises interfere with the animal's work or the owner's disability prevents them from using these devices.  Exceptions are granted in emergency situations, when the animal is in the owner's residence, or when the animal needs to perform a task that requires it to travel beyond the length of the restraint. 

Is it ok to pet someone's service animal?

Generally, petting a service animal while it is working distracts the animal from the task at hand.  Therefore, it is best not to distract the animal by touching or petting them.

What if I am not sure that a dog is actually a service animal?

In many situations it will be obvious that a dog is a service animal.  Additionally, many service dogs wear vests, an ID tag, or an identifiable harness, although these are not required.  In situations where it is not obvious that a dog is a service animal, staff are permitted to ask only two questions: (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability? and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform?  You are not allowed to request any documentation for the dog, require that the dog demonstrate its task, or inquire about the nature of someone's disability. 

Can service animals be any breed of dog?

Yes.  There are no ADA restrictions on the type of dog breeds that can be service animals.  Municipalities that prohibit specific breeds of dogs must make an exception for a service animal, unless the dog poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others.  These must be determined by local jurisdictions on a case-by cases under the "direct threat" provisions of the ADA.

What if a service dog is being disruptive?

If a service animal is out of control and the owner does not take effective action to control it, the animal can be requested to be removed from the premises.  Service dogs should not be permitted to bark repeatedly in a lecture hall, library or other quiet place.  However, if a dog barks just once, or barks because it has been provoked, this would not mean that the dog is out of control.

What if I am allergic to or afraid of dogs?

Allergies and fear or dogs are not considered valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to someone using a service animal.  The College understand that there are concerns such as allergies and phobias that must be addressed. Therefore, we ask that students or employees who have service animals on campus notify Student Accessibility Services, or the Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity so that other accommodations may be made as appropriate.