Oregon State University recognizes the importance of the support and services that can be provided to people with disabilities by animals.

However, service animals and assistance animals, (also known as Emotional Support Animals, or ESA’s), are not the same and are not interchangeable. They perform different functions.


A service animal is a dog or miniature horse as identified by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that are trained to do a task(s) or service directly related to the handlers’ disability. Service animals have received specialized training to perform work or tasks for their handler. Service animals are allowed access to all areas that are open to the public or to students.

If you are interested in bringing a service animal to live or be present on campus with you please review the OSU Policy on Service & Assistance Animals.

Service animals, while allowed in all areas of campus accessible to students, must be under their handler's control at all times. Some of the handler’s responsibilities while the service animal is on campus include:

  • Maintain control of your service animal. They should be under leash, harness, hand and/or voice command at all times.
  • The handler is responsible for the behavior of the service animal. Uncontrolled barking, jumping, sniffing, growling and whining, not related to the service the animal is providing, are some examples of unacceptable behavior.
  • The handler is responsible for cleaning up after the animal and must carry equipment to clean up the animal’s feces whenever the animal is on campus.
  • The handler must ensure the service animal does not infringe upon aisles or passageways for fire egress. In a lab environment, additional measures might be needed to ensure the safety of the animal. Please review the Guidelines for Service Animals in the Lab/Classroom (Insert Link) for additional information.
  • The handler must ensure all legal requirements have been met for an animal in public places (vaccinations, licensure, ID tags, etc.) mandated by State and/or local ordinances in order for the animal to be on campus.
  • The handler must accompany the service animal at all times.
  • Identification – while it is not required, it is recommended that a service animal wear recognizable identification. This will alert others that the animal is working and not a pet.

A faculty or a staff member may not inquire about the nature or extent of your disability, but may ask the following questions when it is not readily apparent that the animal is a service animal:

  1. Is the dog/horse required because of a disability? and;
  2. What work or tasks has the dog/horse been trained to perform related to your disability?


An assistance animal (ESA) is an animal that provides emotional support, comfort or companionship for a person with a disability. Assistance animals are not required to have formal training. Assistance animals are not considered service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act and therefore are only permitted in certain areas. Assistance animals are covered under the Fair Housing Act and may be allowed in the Residence Halls if deemed a reasonable accommodation.

A student who has been approved for an assistance animal in University Housing must adhere to guidelines for maintaining their animal in the residential environment. This includes but is not limited to:

  • The animal must be healthy and up to date on any county or state required vaccinations.
  • The animal cannot pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others.
  • The animal must be housebroken.
  • The animal must effectively be under the handlers control at all times.
  • Live feed is not approved for ESA’s living in the residential environment at OSU.

If you are interested in bringing a service or an assistance animal to live on campus with you please see the OSU Policy on Service & Assistance Animals. In order to have an assistance animal or service animal living in the residence halls, you must complete the On-Campus Housing Accommodation process detailed in Chapter 24.

Updated 09/2018