Animals on Property Owned or Controlled by the University

SLT 6.1

  1. Policy
  2. Policy Statement
  3. Procedures
  4. Definitions


This Policy applies to all faculty, students, staff, contractors, vendors and visitors.

Policy Statement

This policy is intended to enhance the safety and health of students, faculty, staff, contractors, vendors and other visitors, and to supplement the existing GVSU policies, by providing rules and regulations regarding the presence of animals in GVSU facilities. 

No person shall bring any animal(s) onto University owned or controlled property unless otherwise permitted by this or other University policy as listed below.  Individuals wishing to request a modification or exception to this policy as a reasonable accommodation should contact the Office of Disability Support Resources.


A. Animals Permitted on Property Owned or Controlled by the University *:

1. Service Animals are permitted within all University facilities subject to the additional requirements of this policy. Individuals who wish to bring a service animal into a University housing facility may do so without prior approval.  However, students are strongly encouraged to reach out to the University’s Office of Disability Support Resources (DSR) to ensure that their experience bringing the animal to campus is a positive one. Advance notice of a service animal in housing facilities will enable the University to appropriately plan for the animals’ presence and will allow more flexibility in meeting the student’s needs. Service animals are permitted to accompany the resident to all areas of housing where residents are normally permitted to go. Please note that service animals are required to be at least 12 months of age unless an exception to this requirement has been approved by DSR.

2. Employees with a disability who wish to utilize a service animal as a reasonable accommodation in a University office or other areas of campus buildings not open to the general public, must submit the request to the Office of Disability Support Services at least 30 days before the animal is needed.

3. Service animals in training are permitted in all public facilities on the same basis as working service animals, provided that the service animal is being led or accompanied by a trainer for the purpose of training the dog and the trainer has documentation confirming the trainer is affiliated with a recognized or certified service dog training organization. Service animals in training are not permitted in certain classrooms, offices, or other areas of campus buildings not open to the general public. Facilities generally considered off limits unless an exception is granted:

a. Research Laboratories: The natural organisms carried by service animals may negatively affect the outcome of the research. At the same time, the chemicals, and/or organisms used in the research may be harmful to service animals.

b. Areas Where Protective Clothing is Necessary: Any room where protective clothing is required or necessary.  Examples include chemistry laboratories, research/medical laboratories, wood shops, metal or machine shop, electrical shops, etc.

c. Areas Where There is Danger to the Service Animal:  Any room, including a classroom where there are sharp metal cuttings or other sharp objects on the floor or protruding from a surface; where there is hot material on the floor e.g. molten metal or glass; where there is a high level of dust; or where there is moving machinery. Where the threat of injury is to the health of the dog, the student will be permitted to make the decision.

4. A student or employee with a disability who wishes to utilize a service dog in training in University housing, classrooms, offices, or other areas of campus buildings not open to the general public must seek approval through the reasonable accommodation process.

5. Animals under the control of a law enforcement officer acting in the course of his or her duties.

6. Animals kept in residence halls as approved by the Department of Housing and Residence Life including animals kept by housing staff in residence.  All animals must register with and be approved by Disability Support Resources prior to entering University housing, in accordance with this policy:

7. Service animals are permitted to accompany the resident to all areas of housing where residents are normally permitted to go.

8. Animals approved by the University for use in research or for instructional purposes.

9. Animals brought on campus for a special event sponsored by the University or a student organization provided that the event has been pre-approved in writing by the Dean for the sponsoring college or department or by the Office of Student Life.

10. Animals accompanied by members of the University community and visitors, as long as they remain on sidewalks and University walkways.

11. Any animal brought into a University owned or controlled property pursuant to this Policy must be properly licensed, vaccinated and tagged as required by applicable law.  All animals must be under the control of their owner or handler and must be on a leash at all times, unless the owner is unable to use a leash due to a disability or the use of a leash would interfere with the service animal’s ability to perform its duties.  In that case, the owner must be able to control the service animal by other effective means such as voice controls or signals.

12. Animals may not be cleaned or groomed in rest rooms, locker rooms, or other University facilities.

*For purposes of this Policy, “University Facility or Facilities” means any building, facility, structure or improvement, open or enclosed, that is owned, licensed, leased by, or under the control of the University. 

B. General Requirements

Persons bringing animals onto University owned or controlled property as permitted by this Policy are solely responsible for: 

a. the full control, supervision and care of the animal

b. ensuring that animal droppings or other waste are picked up, thoroughly cleaned up and properly disposed of;

c. reimbursing the University for the costs associated with the repair of any real and/or personal property and/or University facility damaged directly or indirectly by the animal or the animal’s presence in the facility.

d. assuming full responsibility for any harm caused to others by their animal including medical expenses.

e. animals must not be cleaned or groomed in rest rooms, locker rooms, or other University facilities.

In addition, individuals bringing animals on campus must comply with all other applicable University ordinances, policies, practices and procedures and any applicable local, state or federal ordinance, statute and/or regulation.  

C. Areas Requiring Pre-Approval for Service Animals:

1. The University may prohibit the use of service animals in certain locations due to health or safety restrictions, where service animals may be in danger, or where their use may compromise the integrity of research. Restricted locations may include, but are not limited to: teaching laboratories, classrooms, medical and surgical areas, and research areas.

2. Exceptions to restricted areas may be granted on a case-by-case basis by contacting the Office of Disability Support Resources. In making its decision, DSR will consult with the appropriate department and/or laboratory representative regarding the nature of the restricted area and any ongoing research. Additional requirements may be necessary to protect the animal. To be granted an exception: A student and/or employee who wants their animal to be granted admission to an off-limits area should contact DSR. Visitors should also contact DSR.

D. Clarifying Animal Status:

1. Service animals are permitted in all public facilities on campus in accordance with this Policy.   University employees should refrain from questioning any individual about an accompanying service animal, including persons with non visible disabilities, unless there is a genuine question about the animal based upon its behavior.

2. In the unusual circumstance when an inquiry must be made to determine whether an animal is a service animal, a University employee may only ask two questions:

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

You may not ask these questions if the need for the service animal is obvious. You may not ask the owner to make the animal perform the task.

3. A University employee may not ask about a person’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the service animal or ask that the service animal demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task. Although a service animal may sometimes be identified by an identification card, harness, cape, or backpack, such identifiers are not required and should not be requested or demanded for any service animal on campus.

4. Allergies and fear of animals are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to people using service animals.

E. Removal of Service Animals: 

1. A service animal may be removed from University facilities or grounds if it disruptive (e.g., barking, wandering, posing a direct threat to the health or safety of others; is not housebroken; or displays aggressive behavior and the behavior is outside the duties of the service animal). Ill, unhygienic, and/or unsanitary service animals are not permitted in public campus areas.  The individual responsible for such an animal may be required to remove the animal. A service animal may also be removed if the animal is out of control and the owner does not take effective action to keep the animal under control.  If the out-of-control behavior happens repeatedly, the owner may be prohibited from bringing the animal into facilities until the owner can demonstrate that significant steps have been taken to mitigate the animal’s behavior.

2. When an animal has been properly removed pursuant to this policy, the University will work with the handler/owner to determine reasonable alternative opportunities to participate in the University’s services, programs, and activities without having the animal on the premises.

3. Any individual with a dispute or disagreement concerning the removal or restriction of a service animal or any other aspect of this policy should first contact Disability Support Resources. If the matter is not resolved, a request for mediation should be submitted to DSR. Individuals may also file a written complaint with the Equity and Compliance Unit in the Division of Inclusion and Equity by calling 616-331-2894 or at

F. Enforcement of Complaints :  

1. If you become aware of a violation of this policy, you are encouraged to attempt informal methods of resolution. For example, if you recognize the person violating this policy, you might contact them or their supervisor to make them aware of the problem. If that is not successful and/or you are not comfortable approaching the person violating the policy or their supervisor, then the Department of Public Safety should be notified. The Department of Public Safety may pick up the animal and hold it for 48 hours. Animals not claimed during that time will be turned over to the county animal control officer and the owner of the animal will be responsible for any associated fees.

2. Students in violation of this policy will be referred to the University conduct process through the Dean of Students Office and may be assessed a fine of up to $250. Employees in violation of this policy will be referred to the Human Resources Office for possible disciplinary action to be determined in consultation with the Equity and Compliance Unit in the Division of Inclusion and Equity and the employee’s supervisor.


1. Service animal: “any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual's disability.” (28 CFR 36.104) The crime deterrent effects of an animal’s presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition.

Examples of work or tasks that service animals perform include, but are not limited to: assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, pulling a wheelchair, assisting an individual during a seizure, alerting individuals to the presence of allergens, retrieving items such as books or the telephone, alerting a person to a sudden change in blood sugar levels, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities, calming a person with Post Traumatic  Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, and helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors.

a. The University may permit the use of a miniature horse on the same basis as a service animal if the horse has been trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of the individual with a disability and after an assessment of the following factors: the type, size and weight of the miniature horse and whether the facility can accommodate these features; whether the handler has sufficient control of the miniature horse; whether the miniature horse is housebroken; and whether the miniature horse’s presence in a specific facility compromises legitimate safety requirements that are necessary for safe operation. (28 CFR 35.136)

2. Service animal in training: Dogs twelve months of age and older being individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities that are at all times accompanied by a certified trainer. Puppies (dogs less than twelve months old) in training are not permitted in any University facilities.

3. Emotional Support, Assistance, or Therapy Animals: Please see the documentation section on the Registering with Disability Support Resources page:

References and Resources

  1. State of Michigan Service Animal Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division “Frequently Asked Questions about Service Animals and the ADA”

  1. The Fair Housing of West Michigan