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Index > Student Life Policies > Service Animals on Campus Policy

Service Animals on Campus Policy


This policy provides guidance for the proper use of Service Animals at the Rhode Island School of Design.


This policy applies to any individual with a service animal who is participating in programs, activities, or housing at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Policy Statement

Service animals assisting individuals with disabilities are generally permitted in all RISD campus facilities and programs except as described below.


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.


Owner Responsibilities:

  • Students must notify the Disability Support Services ("DSS") Office about the presence of a service animal prior to bringing the animal onto campus.
  • The owner is responsible to attend to and be in full control of the service animal at all times. A service animal shall have a harness, leash, or other tether unless a) the owner is unable to use a harness, leash or tether, or b) using a harness, leash, or tether will interfere with the animal’s ability to safely and effectively perform its duties.
  • The owner is responsible for ensuring that the service animal is wearing a leash, harness, cape, or vest that identifies the animal as a service animal when on duty anywhere on campus.
  • The owner is responsible for the costs of care that are necessary for a service animal’s well-being. The arrangements and responsibilities with the care of a service animal are the sole responsibility of the owner at all times, including regular bathing and grooming as needed.
  • The owner is responsible for independently removing or arranging for the removal of the service animal’s waste in a timely and appropriate manner.
  • The owner is responsible for complying with local and state laws concerning licensing, animal rights and owner responsibilities. Service animals must be current with immunizations and wear a rabies vaccination tag. Annual documentation is required. Please visit this link for more information: Pet Licensing and Requirements
  • The owner is responsible for paying for any damage to RISD property caused by the animal.
  • Animals must leave campus with the student anytime the student leaves overnight and/or during college breaks. RISD is not responsible for a service animal in the event of a fire alarm, fire drill, or other natural disaster.
  • The college may prohibit the use of service animals in certain locations due to health and safety restrictions or places where the animal might be in danger. Restricted areas may include, but are not limited to, food preparation areas, specific workshops, boiler rooms, and other areas prohibited by law. Students should meet with DSS to become aware of restricted spaces and identify alternative accommodations.


RISD Community Responsibilities

  • The RISD community must allow service animals to accompany their owners at all times and everywhere on campus where the general public (if accompanying a visitor) or other students (if accompanying a student) are allowed, except for places where there is a health, environmental, or safety hazard. (Please contact the DSS office for specific guidelines on areas that can be considered as restricted.)
  • Do not pet or feed a service animal.
  • Do not attempt to separate the animal from the owner.
  • Do not startle or tease a service animal.
  • Contact DSS if faculty/staff have any additional questions regarding visitors on campus who have service animals.
  • Report any service animals who misbehave or any owners (or other individuals) who mistreat their service animals to the Department of Public Safety.

Addressing Service Animals

The appropriate way to determine that an animal is in fact a service animal, is to ask (only if it is not apparent) if the animal is required because of a disability and what tasks it has been trained to perform. Specific questions about the individual’s disability may not be asked.

  • Only two questions can be asked about service animals:
    • 1) Is this service animal required because of a disability?
    • 2) What work or task is the service animal trained to perform?

Disability Support Services (DSS) Responsibilities

  • DSS is responsible for developing the necessary procedures for the college and facilitating the use of service animals by students on campus.
  • DSS assists owners and the college community when questions or concerns arise relating to service animals on campus and seeks legal advice when necessary.

Restricted Areas

The college may prohibit the use of a service animal in certain locations due to health or safety restrictions. Restricted areas may include, but are not limited to, food preparation areas, woodshops, classrooms that contain animals, areas that require protective clothing, and other areas as required by state or local laws. Exceptions to these restrictions may be requested and will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Technicians and Faculty members with concerns about their particular spaces should contact DSS for guidance.

Revision history

This policy was last reviewed/modified on: 1/21/2021

Next scheduled review: TBA


Issuing Office

Disability Support Services

Responsible Officer

Vice President for Student Life

Individuals/offices required for review and changes

Disability Support Services

Residence Life

Office of the General Counsel