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Index > Operations Policies > Animals on Campus Policy

Animals on Campus Policy


This policy is intended to provide guidance for the maintenance of an environment that enables work to be done with minimal distraction and disruption, shows respect and courtesy for all community members, and reduces potential health risk and facility damage.


This policy applies to all Providence campus buildings including but not limited to administrative offices, residence halls, academic spaces, shops and studios, and all spaces that are open to the public. It also applies to all indoor spaces at Tillinghast Farm in Barrington, Rhode Island and other locations used for special programs.

The policy applies to all college employees, students, visitors/guests, contractors and volunteers.

Policy Statement

Animals have long been recognized for the value of the companionship, service and emotional support they render to their human owners; however, the campus setting of aggregate living and working presents numerous situations which must be regulated for the benefit of all. RISD takes seriously its obligation to provide a safe and enjoyable living, working and visiting environment to all members of the college community through reasonable and responsible regulations of animals on campus.


Pet For the purposes of this policy, a “pet” is an animal that is not (1) a service animal as defined under the Americans with Disabilities Act, or in training to become a service animal, (2) a college-approved emotional support animal, or (3) an animal that lives at the Nature Lab or is used in connection with a specific class (e.g. – an art class curriculum specifically requiring drawing from live specimens).

Owner – an individual who has physical possession and control of any animal brought to campus, including Service Animals (or service animal in training) or an Emotional Support Animal.

Reasonable Accommodation – an action taken by an institution to find ways to assist with the needs of a student, employee, guest, or visitor with a disability without imposing an undue hardship on the institution. Reasonable accommodations must address the particular disability and shall not

fundamentally alter the academic objectives of an individual course, curriculum, program or degree (for students) of essential job functions (for employees).

Emotional Support Animal (“ESA”) – an animal (approved by RISD through the medical housing accommodation process) specifically designated by a qualified medical provider that alleviates one or more identified symptoms of an individual’s disability. An ESA may afford an individual with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy their residence hall provided there is a connection between the individual’s disability and the therapeutic benefit the animal provides. ESAs are not typically trained to provide specific services for an individual with a disability.

Service Animal –any dog or miniature horse 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. Service animals are classified as working animals, not pets. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the owner’s disability. 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.


In order to promote a safe and healthy campus environment and protect college assets, pets are prohibited inside campus buildings including all academic, administrative, and student residential buildings. Pets are welcome to use public outdoor spaces on campus provided that they are vaccinated in accordance with local law and meet all other licensing requirements. This is a matter of individual responsibility for the pet owner.

If individuals choose to bring their pets to the campus grounds for outdoor activities, courtesy and respect must be extended to colleagues, students, and visitors in the area. Pets may pose a real or perceived threat to members of the community and may disrupt college activities. Pet owners should always consider the safety, health, and possible fears that others may feel in the presence of animals. On outdoor campus property pet owners are required to keep animals on a leash and in their immediate control.

Pets may not be left unattended or tied to any stationery objects (e.g., structures, bike racks or trees). Pet owners must clean up after their pets and properly dispose of any waste. Pet owners assume full personal and financial responsibility for all property damage or injury caused by their pets.

RISD, in its sole discretion, reserves the right to prohibit any pet, including Service Animals and ESAs from the college campus at any time if:

  • The owner fails to keep the animal under control. If there is a history of uncontrollable behavior, the Owner may be prohibited from bringing the Service Animal into any college facility until the Owner demonstrates specific and effective steps taken to mitigate the behavior.
  • The animal’s behavior or condition constitutes (or is reasonably likely to constitute) a threat to the community. A Service Animal is considered a direct threat if it exhibits behavior or has condition observed to be aggressive, violent, and/or hazardous to the health or safety of individuals. Examples include but are not limited to, growling or aggressive posturing, biting/nipping/kicking, or having fleas, ticks or other parasites.


Failure to comply with this and related policies is subject to corrective action, up to and including suspension without pay, or termination of employment in accordance with RISD’s Corrective Action Policy.

Corrective action may be applied to any staff member or manager with knowledge of violations of this policy who fail to take appropriate actions to remedy in accordance with this policy.

Anyone who brings, or allows others to bring, pets or animals into campus residences without prior approval may be subject to corrective or administrative action.

Any visitor to campus who is in violation of this policy may be asked to have their pet or animal immediately removed, and failure to comply may result in the College seeking recourse, including but not limited to, pursuant to applicable state laws.

Any student in violation of this policy will be asked to immediately comply and failure to do so, and/or continued violations of this policy, may be subject to action pursuant to the RISD Student Code of Conduct.

The individualized assessment of each incident may lead to escalation of this process, up to and including immediate removal of an animal from campus after a first complaint; this may include service animals and emotional support animals depending on the severity of the incident.

Emotional support animals are not allowed anywhere on campus, outside of the residence hall, where animals are not normally allowed. An ESA may be removed from campus if it is found in any other building on campus, other than the student’s residence hall.

For the Service Animal and Emotional Support Animal policies for students, visit the Disability Support Services site at

If an employee has concerns about pets in the workplace, they should contact their immediate supervisor or Human Resources.



Any member of our community who observes someone with an animal on campus who they reasonably believe is in conflict with the expectations of this policy should address the pet owner, if they’re comfortable doing so, advising them of the policy and asking them to comply. (note: anyone who is not comfortable approaching the pet owner should contact Public Safety to report the potential violation; Public Safety will address the pet owner directly.)

In every instance, after the pet owner has been addressed, Public Safety must be contacted at 401-454-6666 to document the incident. If the person is compliant, Public Safety will only document the incident. If the pet owner refuses to comply, Public Safety will arrive on scene to address the pet owner and then document the incident.

Revision history

This policy was created on: August 2014, as published on the RISD intranet

This policy was last reviewed/modified on: 3/18/2022

Next scheduled review: Biennially in November or as required by law.


Issuing Office

Office of Risk and Emergency Management

Responsible Officer

Vice President of Campus Services

Individuals/offices required for review and changes

Director of Risk and Emergency Management

Director of Residence Life

Director, Employment

Director, Office of Public Safety

Office of the General Counsel