Service Animals

A service animal refers to 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. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the person's disability, including, but not limited to:

  • Assisting individuals with low vision or blindness
  • Alerting individuals who are deaf of hard of hearing
  • Pulling a wheelchair or stabilizing a person’s gait
  • Retrieving items such as medicine, food, or a telephone
  • Recognizing and assisting a person having a seizure
  • Informing individuals who may be experiencing flashbacks of emotional trauma 

Subject to some limitations, service animals may accompany students, employees or the general public, throughout campus. When a person’s disability is obvious, CU Boulder does not require documentation, such as proof that the animal has been certified, trained or licensed as a service animal. Individuals accompanied by a service animal on campus who do not need any other disability-related accommodations are not required to register with Disability Services or the ADA coordinator’s office. Although not required, we encourage students to register service animals as it can be beneficial to have a record with our office.

  • Employees with a Service Animal in the Workplace: Employees who have a need for service or assistance animals as a workplace accommodation must contact ADA Compliance at Please visit their website for more information. If an employee makes a request to utilize a service animal to the employee’s supervisor, the supervisor should refer the employee to ADA Compliance, while also contacting the ADA Compliance unit directly to communicate the request. 

When it is not obvious that a dog is a service animal, it is recommended that students make an appointment with Disability Services to assist in easing your service animal’s transition to campus.  

CU Boulder recommends service animals be identifiable by wearing a vest or harness. Service animals must be housebroken (i.e., trained so that it controls its waste elimination, absent illness or accident) and must be kept under control by voice, signals, or other effective means. Service animals must not be disruptive or active in any classroom situation.
CU Boulder will assess requests for the use of miniature horses by people with disabilities on a case-by-case basis. Requests should be submitted to Disability Services, consistent with applicable laws, CU Boulder may make modifications to its policies to permit their use if they have been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability.
Service Animals in Training: Colorado law allows dogs on campus who are being trained specifically as service animals for individuals with disabilities. 
Assistance animals do not qualify as service animals.

Assistance Animals

An assistance animal provides emotional or other support that minimizes one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person's disability. This group includes therapy animals, emotional support, or comfort animals. Unlike service animals, assistance animals are not required to be trained to perform work or tasks, and they include species other than dogs and miniature horses.
After an individualized review, students with disabilities in some instances may be allowed to have an assistance animal within campus facilities as an approved accommodation. See contact information below for requesting an assistance animal.

Responsibilities of Individuals Using Service/Assistance Animals

Individuals with disabilities are responsible for the cost, care, and supervision of their service or assistance animals, including:

  • compliance with any laws pertaining to animal licensing, vaccination, and owner identification;  
  • keeping the animal under control at all times; and
  • feeding and walking the animal and disposing of animal waste.

CU Boulder will not require any surcharges or fees related to service/assistance animals. Individuals may be charged for damage caused by any animal.  

Individuals with disabilities who are accompanied by service/assistance animals must comply with the same university rules regarding noise, safety, disruption, and cleanliness as people without disabilities.
All persons shall promptly comply with any university directive to remove their animal from an area in which it was previously authorized if:

  • it is out of control and effective action is not taken to control it;
  • it is not housebroken; or
  • it poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others that cannot be mitigated by reasonable modifications of policies, practices, or procedures, or the provision of auxiliary aids or services.

Guidelines for Members of the CU Boulder Community

To ensure equal access and nondiscrimination of individuals with disabilities, members of the CU Boulder community must abide by the following practices:

  • Allow service animals to accompany people with disabilities on campus;
  • Do not ask for details about a person's disabilities;
  • Do not pet, interact, or feed a service animal, as it distracts the animal from its work;
  • Do not deliberately startle, tease, or taunt a service animal; and
  • Do not separate or attempt to separate a person from his/her service animal.
  • Provide individuals with service animals with the right of way with respect to cyclists and skateboarders. 

When it is not obvious a dog is a service animal, the following inquiries are permitted: 
(1)    Is the dog required because of a disability?
(2)    What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?
CU Boulder is committed to ensuring that the needs of all people with disabilities are met and will determine how to resolve any conflicts or problems as expeditiously as possible

Legal References

The Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
Fair Housing Act
Colorado Revised Statutes

Contact Information


Resources/Grievances Disability Services
Center for Community, Suite 200
Bringing an animal to university housing

Disability Services
Center for Community, Suite 200



ADA Coordinator

Reporting a concern about
disability discrimination or harassment
Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance