Skip to main content
Service Dog

Service Animals and Support Animals in Stanford R&DE Student Housing

Although Stanford does not allow students or guests to bring pets into Residential & Dining Enterprises (R&DE) Student Housing, the University has established the following policy regarding Service Animals and Support Animals in Student Housing to ensure that students with disabilities have equal access to University programs and services.1 This policy may be amended from time to time, as circumstances require.

Section I. Definitions

A. Service Animal

  • A Service Animal (sometimes referred to as guide dog or signal dog) is a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. In some cases, a miniature horse may be permitted as a Service Animal. All other types of animals do not qualify as Service Animals.
  • The work or task a Service Animal has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Examples of such work or tasks conducted by a Service Animal include but are not limited to:
    • Guiding a person who is blind;
    • Alerting a person who is deaf; 
    • Retrieving items for a person using a wheelchair; or
    • Alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure.
  • Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support are not Service Animals, but may qualify as Support Animals (see section below).

B. Support Animal 

  • A Support Animal (sometimes referred to as an assistance animal, comfort animal, therapy animal, or companion animal) is an animal that provides emotional or other support/assistance that alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person’s disability.
  • Unlike a Service Animal, a Support Animal does not necessarily assist a person with a disability with activities of daily living, nor does it accompany a person with a disability at all times.

C. Pet

  • An animal kept for ordinary use and companionship unrelated to a disability.
  • A pet is not considered a Service Animal or a Support Animal. It is not covered by this policy.
  • As a general rule, Stanford has a “no pets” policy in Student Housing.

D. Approved Animal

  • (1) A Service Animal that has been registered with Stanford’s Office of Accessible Education (OAE); or (2) a Support Animal that has been approved by Stanford as a reasonable accommodation under this policy, including registration with OAE.

E. Owner

  • An individual with a disability who has requested the accommodation and has received approval to bring the Approved Animal on campus.

F. Emergency Contact

  • An individual who will take responsibility for an Approved Animal in the event that the Owner cannot be reached during an emergency.

1This policy only applies to requests involving undergraduate and graduate students in Student Housing. For requests for accommodations for a student’s partner or child in housing, please contact The Office of Accessible Education. For requests for workplace accommodations for faculty and staff, please review Administrative Guide Policy 2.2.7. For requests for accommodation for prospective employees, please contact the Diversity & Access Office at  For requests for accommodations for campus visitors (including camp participants), please contact the Diversity & Access Office at For concerns about treatment in connection with a request for a reasonable accommodation, please contact the Diversity & Access Office at

go to top of page arrow

Section II. Service Animals

Service Dog

A. Who May Keep a Service Animal?

Service Animal: Students may reside with a Service Animal in a Student Housing space as well as other venues on campus if:

  1. The individual has a disability;
  2. The dog is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the individual with a disability; and
  3. The work or task that the dog has been trained to provide is directly related to the person’s disability.

B. What is the Process for Registering a Service Animal?

Students must submit the animal registration form and appropriate request and documentation forms to the Office of Accessible Education (OAE) (see Section 3). Instructions for registering with the OAE can be found here.

When a student’s disability and the work or tasks performed by the Service Animal are not readily apparent, Stanford may ask (1) whether the Service Animal is required because of a disability; and (2) what work or tasks the animal has been trained to perform.

Residential staff and other pertinent University offices and administrators may be notified as appropriate.  The student’s roommate(s), suitemate(s) or other nearby neighbors may be notified that the Service Animal will be residing in a shared space or nearby.  If a concern arises regarding the presence of the Service Animal, the University will conduct an individualized assessment and housing reassignments may be necessary. (See Section IV.)

C. Where is a Service Animal Permitted?

A Service Animal is generally permitted to reside in any residential building except those designated as animal-free buildings, and will be allowed to accompany its Owner at all times in that residential building and on campus except where animals are specifically prohibited because of health and safety restrictions.  Restricted areas may include, but are not limited to: custodial closets, boiler rooms, facility equipment rooms, research laboratories, classrooms with research/demonstration animals, areas where protective clothing is necessary, wood and metal shops, motor pools, rooms with heavy machinery, food preparation areas including kitchens operated by Residential & Dining Enterprises or student kitchens in residence halls and annexes and areas outlined in state law as being inaccessible to animals. 

Service Animals may be granted access to restricted areas on a case-by-case basis by contacting OAE.

D. What animal care obligations does an Owner of a Service Animal have?

The caretaking obligations for Service Animals are provided in Section V below.

E. New Service Animal

To register a new or replacement Service Animal the Owner should contact the OAE. 

F. Service Animal in Training

Service Animals in Training are not protected by the same rights and regulations as fully trained Service Animals and are not permitted in Student Housing without approval by OAE. In most cases, new or replacement Service Animals and their handlers will need to undergo an extensive training period together. If this training period coincides with a student’s residence in Student Housing, OAE will provide an individualized assessment of the case and make a determination of reasonability at that time.

go to top of page arrow

Section III. Support Animals

Escondite Cottage Housing Front Desk

A. Who May Keep Support Animals?

Students are permitted to have a Support Animals following (1) approval by the OAE and (2) identification of an approved Student Housing assignment, as described in sections III.B.  

B. First Time Process for Requesting to Have a Support Animal in Student Housing as a Reasonable Accommodation

Students requesting to have a Support Animal reside in Student Housing are required to follow the steps outlined below prior to bringing a Support Animal to campus:


  1. Students must review the Service and Support Animals in University Housing policy, demonstrating their understanding and agreement to their responsibilities for having a Support Animal in student housing. If students have questions and/or concerns about their responsibilities regarding a Support Animal in student housing they should request to meet with an OAE advisor for further review and clarification. 
  2. Students must submit to the OAE the animal registration form and appropriate request and documentation forms. Instructions for registering with the OAE can be found here
  3. Documentation for a Support Animal request must follow the OAE’s guidelines for documentation of a disability and should include a letter from a licensed health care provider with the following information:
    1. Brief summary of the provider’s professional relationship to the student, including duration of time providing care. (The OAE does not accept medical documentation from family members or from online services.)
    2. Verification of disability status through
      1. A diagnosis or identification of the nature of the disability, and/or;
      2. A description of the specific functional limitations experienced as a result of the disability and how these limit one or more major life activities
    3. Statement on how the animal serves as an accommodation for the documented disability
    4. Explanation of why the assistance of the animal is necessary to the ability of the student/resident to use and enjoy the living arrangements provided by the University
  4. Upon receipt of this information, OAE conducts an individualized assessment to determine if the student/resident has a qualifying disability and whether the request for a Support Animal is reasonable.
  5. Once a request for a Support Animal has been approved, OAE notifies Housing Assignments of the accommodation request. Housing Assignments will identify whether there is available appropriate Student Housing and notify the student. Students may have to wait for an available space. For example, if housing is unavailable, an undergraduate might need to wait until the next housing assignment cycle, and a graduate student might have to wait until the expiration of their existing residential agreement. Stanford generally assigns Support Animals as follows:
    1. Designated single student studios, single student two-bedroom apartments, couple or family apartment-style options (undergraduate and graduate students). As a general proposition, apartment style units for individuals, couples and families are better suited for students with Support Animals than are dormitory units. In order to maintain the University’s no pets policy as a general rule for Student Housing, and also to accommodate students who need to live apart from animals, not all Student Housing units in these categories will be available for possible assignment.
    2. Dorm-style options. Beginning in the fall of the 2021-22 academic year, students in undergraduate housing will be assigned into 1 of 8 neighborhoods. ESAs will be allowed within select buildings in each neighborhood. 
    3. Assignment Process.  It is recommended that graduate and undergraduate students with approval for a Support Animal seek housing through the annual housing accommodation process, which takes place each Spring Quarter for housing beginning the following Autumn Quarter.  More information for undergraduates can be found on the undergraduate housing assignment website. Information for graduate students can be found at Requesting approval for a Support Animal does not impact your Student Housing priority status. 
    4. Meeting and Move-in of Support Animal.  Students whose request for the accommodation of a Support Animal has been approved and for whom an assignment has been identified, should consult with their Resident Dean or Graduate Life Office (GLO) Dean if they have any questions and/or concerns regarding their Support Animal and their responsibilities for having a Support Animal in their residence. :  

As part of the process for identifying a Student Housing assignment (or if concerns arise after an assignment), Residential staff and other pertinent University offices and administrators may be notified as appropriate. The student’s roommate(s), suitemate(s) or other nearby neighbors may be notified that the Support Animal will be residing in a shared space or nearby. If a concern arises regarding the presence of the Support Animal, the University will conduct an individualized assessment and Student Housing reassignments may be necessary. (See Section IV.)

C. Process for Requesting Student Housing Reassignment with a Support Animal or Replacing a Support Animal

Each time a student with a Support Animal wishes to replace the animal with the same type of animal (for example, if a hamster is replaced with a hamster) or change a Student Housing assignment, the student must notify Housing Assignments. Each time a student with a Support Animal wishes to replace an animal with a new type of animal (for example, if a hamster is to be replaced with a rabbit), the student must go through all steps of III.B above, although OAE may work with the student to rely on past documentation if it continues to be applicable to the new request.

D. Where is a Support Animal Permitted and Not Permitted?

A Support Animal, once approved, is only permitted in the designated and assigned University housing unit (room or apartment) provided to the student. Support Animals needing exercise outdoors are permitted on University grounds if following County ordinances, e.g., leash laws.

A Support Animal is not permitted:

  1. In common areas of Student Housing (e.g., lounges, dining halls, courtyards, etc.); 
  2. Other residential housing rooms not assigned to the student, even with the other student’s permission.
  3. In other University buildings (e.g., academic buildings, libraries, classrooms, labs, recreational areas, athletic facilities, etc.)

The Support Animal may, however, be transported outside the student’s private housing unit in an animal carrier or controlled by leash or harness in public or common areas in the Owner’s path of travel to or from his or her housing unit. In order to accommodate other students, the University reserves the right to restrict Support Animals from certain paths of travel (e.g., elevators or certain entrances) on an as needed basis.

Students with disabilities that require being away from animals (such as significant allergies) should register with the Office of Accessible Education to be reasonably accommodated. 

Beginning in the 2022-23 academic year, support animals are allowed within all undergraduate housing buildings.

In shared, single graduate housing, all three- and four-bedroom units are designated as animal restricted. Students in these types of units who are approved for an emotional support animal should expect to move before the animal is allowed in the residence.
go to top of page arrow

Section IV. Conflicting Health Conditions


Students with medical condition(s) that are affected by animals (e.g., respiratory diseases, asthma, and substantial allergies, PTSD, phobias) should contact the Office of Accessible Education if they have a health or safety related concern about exposure to an Approved Animal. As provided in Section III.B, the University may also affirmatively reach out to nearby neighbors during the deliberative process. If a student has a disability-related concern about an animal, the student will be asked to provide medical documentation that identifies the condition(s) as a disability and register with the Office of Accessible Education; a determination will be made on whether there is need for an accommodation. The University will provide reasonable accommodations to individuals with such medical conditions as needed and will consider the needs of both persons in resolving the issue.

Even without an OAE accommodation, a student who is highly inconvenienced by living near an Approved Animal may reach out to the Housing Office to see if there is an available Student Housing unit to relocate to away from an Approved Animal.

Section V. Approved Animal Owner’s Responsibilities in Student Housing

Escondido Village Lowrise

The Owner is required to sign an Agreement committing to abide by this policy, including but not limited to the requirements provided in this Section V, in addition to all County laws regarding animal ownership and animal welfare. 

Should the Approved Animal be removed from the premises for any reason, the Owner is expected to fulfill their housing obligations for the remainder of the housing contract.

  1. The Owner is responsible for assuring that the Approved Animal does not unduly interfere with the routine activities of the University or cause difficulties (such as by excessive noise, for example) for students who reside there. 
  2. Care and supervision of the animal are the responsibility of the Owner. The Owner is required to maintain control of the animal at all times and follow all leash laws.
  3. The Owner is also responsible for ensuring the prompt cleanup of the animal’s waste and, when appropriate, must toilet the animal in areas designated by the University. Indoor animal waste, such as cat litter, must be placed in a sturdy plastic bag and securely tied before being disposed of in an outside trash dumpster.  Litter boxes must be in student's bedrooms and should be placed on mats so that waste is not tracked onto floor surfaces.
  4. In the event of the University’s response to a service request in Owner’s Student Housing unit, the Owner must contain the Approved Animal and be present during the University’s Facilities staff or contractors visit.  If Owner does not contain the Approved Animal and is not present during the visit, University staff or contractors will not enter to complete the repair, unless other arrangements have been agreed upon in advance.
  5. The Owner is strongly encouraged to maintain liability insurance coverage for the Approved Animal, in order to protect the Owner and family from risk of significant legal and financial liability. The Owner will in all cases be held financially responsible for the actions of the Approved Animal, including any incident where the Approved Animal causes bodily injury to another person, regardless of whether the Owner has obtained insurance coverage.  The Owner’s responsibility further includes (without limitation) replacement of furniture, carpet, window, wall covering, etc. The Owner is expected to cover these costs at the time of repair and/or move-out.  The Owner shall have no claim against the University for any financial obligations resulting from the actions of the Approved Animal. 
  6. The Owner is responsible for any expenses incurred for cleaning above and beyond a standard cleaning or for repairs to University premises that are assessed after the student and animal vacate the Student Housing unit. The University shall have the right to bill the Owner for unmet obligations.
  7. The Owner must notify Housing Assignments if the Approved Animal is no longer needed as an Approved Animal or is no longer in residence.
  8. The Owner is responsible for all aspects of the Approved Animal’s health and well-being and following all local ordinances including the following: 
    1. Vaccination: In accordance with local ordinances and regulations, the animal must be immunized against diseases common to that type of animal. Dogs must have current vaccination against rabies and wear a rabies vaccination tag. Cats should have the normal shots required for a healthy animal.  The Owner should be prepared to provide documentation showing proof of vaccination upon request.
    2. Health: All Approved Animals must be disease-free.  Cats and dogs, must have an annual clean bill of health from a licensed veterinarian. Documentation can be a vaccination certificate for the animal or a veterinarian’s statement regarding the animal’s health. The Owner should be prepared to provide documentation showing proof of an annual clean bill of health upon request.  The University has authority to direct that an Approved Animal receive veterinary attention.
    3. Licensing: The Owner must comply with any applicable licensing requirements. The University reserves the right to request documentation showing that the animal has been licensed in accordance with Santa Clara County (or San Mateo County, if applicable) licensing requirements.
    4. Training: Approved Animals must be housebroken, as applicable. 
    5. Leash: If appropriate, the animal must be on a leash as required by County Ordinance unless the leash would inhibit a Service Animal’s ability to be of service.
    6. Identification: All animals, if taken outside the residence, must wear an identification tag with local contact information and vaccination information.
    7. Other Conditions: Stanford reserves the right to place other reasonable conditions or restrictions on Approved Animals, e.g., to balance with the needs of other individuals with disabilities.
    8. Inspection:  The Owner’s residence may be inspected for fleas, ticks or other pests once a quarter or as needed. The Housing Service Center for the Student Housing unit will schedule the inspection. If fleas, ticks or other pests are detected through inspection, the residence will be treated using approved fumigation methods by a University-approved pest control service. The Owner will be billed for the expense of any pest treatment.
    9. No Abandonment:  Approved Animals must not be left unattended overnight in Student Housing.  If the Owner leaves campus overnight, the Approved Animal should accompany the Owner.  Additionally, Approved Animals must not be left for unreasonably prolonged periods of time without access to exercise, food, or companionship.  Students will not be issued additional keys or access cards for caretakers.  Animals deemed abandoned will be turned over to Animal Control.

Should the Approved Animal be removed from the premises for any reason, the Owner is expected to fulfill their housing obligations for the remainder of the housing contract.

Students with emotional support cats or dogs are strongly encouraged to have their animal spayed or neutered.

go to top of page arrow

Section VI. Removal of Approved Animal

Lagunita Court - Eucalipto

The University may exclude/remove an Approved Animal when any of the following occur:

  1. The animal’s behavior poses an unreasonable threat to the health or safety of others or to the quiet enjoyment of other residents.  Such behavior may include, but is not limited to excessive noise (such as frequent or loud barking), running around unrestrained, making unwanted contact with others, or aggressive conduct such as growling, biting or threatening others. For example, a Support Animal that makes excessive noise in a dwelling can be very disruptive to other residents. The Owner may be prohibited from bringing the animal on campus until the Owner takes significant and effective remedial steps to correct the animal’s behavior problems.   
  2. The Owner engages in neglect of the animal, or does not comply with Owner’s Responsibilities as provided in this Policy.
  3. The Owner fails to maintain reasonable cleanliness standards for the animal.  

If, because of one or more of the above, an Approved Animal is excluded/removed from Student Housing, the student, but not the animal, will remain welcome on campus and Stanford will engage in an interactive discussion with the student to determine whether the student can identify an alternative form of accommodation.

Section VII. Emergency Situations

Lagunita Court Housing Front Desk

In cases of immediate danger, which may occur when the Approved Animal is out of control or poses a threat of serious injury, observers should contact Stanford’s Department of Public Safety at (650) 723-9633.

Section VIII. Violations

A violation of this policy is considered to be a violation of  the University Residence Agreement. Appropriate administrative action may be taken in the form of requiring the removal of an Approved Animal, or terminating an individual from Housing. In certain circumstances (e.g., misrepresenting the need for a Service or Support Animal), a violation of this policy may be considered to be a violation of the Fundamental Standard and the matter referred to the Office of Community Standards for consideration.

Section IX. Concerns and/or Complaints

Concerns and/or complaints regarding a particular animal in the residences and on campus (for example, regarding excessive noise, cleanliness problems, or aggressive behavior) may be made to the local Residence Dean or Graduate Life Dean.

Section X. Grievance

Students who believe they have been subjected to unlawful discrimination on the basis of disability, or have been denied access to services or accommodations required by law, have the right to use this grievance procedure. Student ADA/Section 504 Grievance Policy found at: 

For questions regarding the procedure contact Krista Martinelli, ADA/Section 504 Compliance Officer at 650-723-0755,

Section XI. Relevant University Offices

Hoover Tower

Office of Accessible Education (OAE) is responsible for providing academic and housing accommodations to undergraduate and graduate students. Contact the OAE at 650-723-1066 or email

R&DE Student Housing Assignments is responsible for identifying appropriate housing for undergraduate and graduate students. Contact R&DE Student Housing Assignments at 650-725-2810 or

Residential Education (ResEd) is responsible for developing the policies, programs, and staffing which support the intellectual, educational, and community-building activities in student residences. Contact Res. Ed. at 725-2800.

Graduate Life Office (GLO) is responsible providing graduate students with guidance and advice and serve as a resource regarding graduate student conflict relating to on-campus residences. Contact GLO at 650-723-8222.

Diversity and Access Office (D&A) is responsible for ensuring compliance with the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. The D&A Office also provides disability related accommodations to the public and can assist with facilitating staff and faculty requests for workplace accommodation. The D&A Office also administers the Student ADA/Section 504 Grievance Procedure. Contact the D&A Office at 650-725-0326 or email

go to top of page arrow

Section XII. Off-Leash Service & Approved Support Dog Exercise Area

Stanford University is pleased to provide a dog exercise area for the exclusive use of residents in R&DE Student Housing who are students with service dogs or approved support dogs, or professional staff with dogs. Please help maintain a positive experience for fellow dog owners and the community by remembering to

  •  Supervise and be able to control verbally your dogs at all times. Only two dogs are permitted per handler. No classes allowed.
  •  Keep your dog on a leash prior to entry and after exiting the off-leash area. Length of leash cannot exceed six feet. 
  •  Ensure that all persons under age 16 are accompanied by an adult.
  •  Keep food outside the exercise area.
  •  Always pick up and dispose of your dog’s waste.
  •  Make sure your dog is wearing proof of current license and rabies vaccination.

For the safety of the community, keep your dog at home if

  • Your dog is in heat. 
  • Your dog has aggressive tendencies. Any dog showing aggressive behavior must be removed from the exercise area immediately.
  • Your dog is less than four months old. 
  • Your dog carries communicable diseases. 

Stanford University assumes no liabilities for the use of this exercise area. Use these facilities at your own risk.