Service and Assistance Animals


Seattle Pacific University has a general “no pets” policy in all campus buildings, including University housing. However, Service Animals are allowed to accompany their handlers on campus and in their residence hall. Assistance Animals (or Emotional Support Animals) may be requested as an accommodation in housing through Disability Support Services.


  • Service animal: An individually trained dog to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability. 
  • Assistance Animals/ESAs: Can be dogs and other animals, that provide passive support that mitigates, in full or part, an impact of a person’s disability, allowing them to benefit from Seattle Pacific University’s Housing and Residence Life programs and services.
  • Partner: A person with a service or assistance animal. 
  • Team: A person with a disability and their service animal. The two work as a cohesive team in accomplishing the tasks of everyday living.

Service Animal Policy

SPU's Service Animals Policy addresses the use of service animals for students with disabilities in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. A service animal that has been trained to perform an active task that mitigates or partially mitigates the impact of the handler’s disability is protected by the ADA.  If a Service Animal’s role is not apparent by observation, you may be asked “Is that a service animal for a disability?” and “What service/tasks does it perform for you?” The service animal is an access need, not something you need to request as an accommodation; therefore, you will not have to submit documentation of a disability for it to be used on campus. However, please do let us know it is coming.  Documentation is only needed if you are requesting additional accommodations.

All SPU students and employees are encouraged to be familiar with this policy, regardless of whether they use a Service Animal, so that they can be aware of the rights and needs of others and understand the appropriate type of conduct towards Service Animals on campus.

Assistance Animal Policy

Under the Fair Housing Act (1988), Assistance Animals can also include animals other than just dogs, that provide provide passive support that alleviates or at least partially mitigates the impact of a person’s disability allowing them to benefit from SPU's programs and services.  Animals providing these passive services are generally referred to as Assistance Animals or Emotional Support Animals (ESAs).  Assistance (or ESA) Animals can be requested of and approved by Disability Support Services for Housing assignments. Requests for Assistance (or ESA) Animals in University housing are submitted and approved by Disability Support Services.

Please see SPU's Assistance Animal Policy for more information. If you would like to discuss this option as an accommodation, please call 206.281.2272 or email to set up an appointment.  

Requesting Accommodation of an Assistance Animal/ESA 

A student requesting an Assistance Animal or ESA should complete the following steps:

  1. Submit a Request for Assistance Animal form – completed by student (form obtained from DSS) 
  2. Submit the Assistance Animal Verification Form completed by health or mental health care provider to DSS. (form obtained from DSS)
  3. Submit to DSS a vet report of good health/vaccination and proof that the animal is licensed with the City of Seattle. (City of Seattle online pet licensing portal)
  4. Once above documents are submitted, make an appointment with DSS to discuss the accommodation. 
  5. Student will receive notification from DSS if request for an “Assistance Animal in residence” is approved or denied. DSS may request additional information if the initial Assistance Animal Verification form doesn’t provide the necessary information.
  6. The student will make an appointment with DSS staff to review animal agreement form and be informed of animal move-in date.  

All steps must be completed prior to Assistance Animal arrival. Students who bring an animal on campus prior to obtaining permission will be asked to remove the animal from campus.

Animal Care and Conduct 

All animals are the responsibility of their handlers and should be under their control (in proximity to the handler and responsive to commands, in harness, leashed, or in a carrier).

  • An Assistance Animal and Service Animal must be housebroken and under owners’ control (voice or tether) at all times. (Puppy rearing which focuses on socialization and general obedience training may not qualify as housebroken.)
  • Assistance Animals should not be disruptive (excessive noise, barking, etc.), and pose a direct threat to the health or safety of the Owner or others (including growling, biting, clawing, jumping on others, and other aggressive behavior).
  • Assistance Animals must not be left alone for extended periods of time. It is the responsibility of the handler to arrange for care for the animal if the handler will be away from the animal overnight.
  • All waste from Assistance Animals or Service Animals must be disposed of in outside receptacles.

An animal’s behavior is considered the handler’s responsibility; the animal will be held to the same basic standard of conduct as its handler. If the animal is disruptive to university business or community behavioral expectations for educational, medical, and residential environments, handlers may be asked to correct the animal’s behavior or remove it from the environment.

Housing Timeline

The process for approving an Assistance Animal may take up to 6-8 weeks. Requests for Assistance Animal accommodations should be received by Disability Support Services by June 1 for Autumn Quarter.

Mid-year Assistance Animal requests should be received (with all necessary paperwork and appointment scheduled with DSS) at least 6 weeks prior to the start of the quarter for which a student is requesting an Assistance Animal as an accommodation.

DSS will always do its best to reasonably accommodate in a timely manner; however, missed deadlines may impact the timing of when an approved animal can be brought to campus.

Conflicting disabilities or health issues

It is common for persons to have an allergic reaction to animals. Persons making an asthmatic/allergy/medical complaint should be directed to file a complaint with DSS. The person making the complaint should show medical documentation to support the complaint. Actions should be taken to consider the needs of both persons and to resolve the problem as efficiently and expeditiously as possible.

First-person rights: If the first person allowed in the housing unit uses a service animal and another person comes along with serious allergies, the first person should not be moved to accommodate the second person.