Occidental College Service Animal Policy


A “service animal" indicates a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person 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.

The provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship does not constitute work or tasks for the purpose of this definition. (For information about our Emotional Support Animal policy, please contact Disability Services at accessibility@oxy.edu.)

Species other than dogs or, in some cases, miniature horses, are not considered service animals for the purpose of this definition of a service animal.

Service animals will be permitted to accompany people with disabilities in all areas of Occidental College facilities where students, members of the public, and other participants in services, programs or activities are allowed to go, including on-campus housing. Occidental College 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 but who do not need any disability-related accommodations are not required to register with the Disability Services Office, nor is such individual required to submit a request for a reasonable accommodation to receive access of their service animal. However,  students with service dogs who are residing on campus are required to register with the Disability Services Office and to provide health information about their service dog .

Additionally, Occidental College cannot ask about the nature or extent of a person’s disability to determine whether a person’s animal qualifies as a service animal. However, when it is not readily apparent that a dog is a service animal, Occidental College staff may make two inquiries to determine whether the dog qualifies as a service animal, which are:

  1. Is the dog required because of a disability?
  2. What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

The College will not make either of these two inquiries when it is observable and obvious what work or task the animal is performing for the individual with a disability. Rather, such inquiries will be made only when there is credible, objective evidence reflecting that the animal is not performing as a service animal for the individual, including evidence that the animal is out of control. Further, the College will not make any of the following inquiries:

  • Asking the individual about their disability;
  • Asking the individual to show a license, certification, or ID as proof of training;
  • Asking the individual to describe the manner in which the animal was trained; and
  • Demands that the individual demonstrate handling, training, and/or care of the service animal.


Students who wish to bring a service animal to campus are required to register with Disability Services, especially if other academic or housing accommodations are required. Once registered, the Disability Services Office will partner with the Office of Residential Education and Housing Services to alert them of the presence of a service animal in college housing.  Requests for Service Animals in college housing do NOT require documentation of disability. Advance notice of a service animal for on-campus housing may allow more flexibility in meeting student’s specific requests for housing. Upon request of a Service Animal, the student’s roommate(s) will be notified (if applicable) to solicit their acknowledgement of the request, and notify them that the approved animal will be residing in the shared assigned space.


  1. A service animal must be housebroken (i.e., trained so that it controls its waste elimination, absent illness or accident) and must be kept under control at all times by a harness, leash, or other tether, unless the person is unable to hold those, or such use would interfere with the service animal’s performance of work or tasks. In such instances, the service animal must be kept under control by voice, signals, or other effective means.
  2. Service animals generally should accompany their handler at all times so that the dog can provide the service it is trained to perform.
  3. If the handler is residing in campus residence, their service animal may not be left alone in their housing unit at any time.
  4. A service animal may not be left in the care of other campus residents at any time.
  5. The handler may not use human showers/tubs within the College residential community to bathe or clean their service animal.
  6. The handler is financially responsible for any damage (including but not limited to medical expenses or cleaning costs) to persons or property caused by their service animal.


California law allows animals that are being trained to be guide dogs for the blind, hearing assistance dogs, or assistance animals for persons with physical impairments to access Occidental College facilities.


Occidental College may exclude a service animal from the campus only if:

  1. The animal is out of control and effective action is not taken to control it;
  2. The animal is not housebroken;
  3. The animal 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; or
  4. If the animal is a miniature horse, the College may exclude the animal if the facility cannot accommodate the animal’s type, size, and weight.

If an animal is properly excluded, the alternative accommodation offered to the use of the service animal must be effective in all of the functions the service animal performs with respect to the student’s disability.

In considering whether a service animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others, Occidental College will make an individualized assessment, based on reasonable judgment, current medical knowledge, or the best available objective evidence, to determine:

  1. The nature, duration, and severity of the risk;
  2. The probability that the potential injury will actually occur; and
  3. Whether reasonable modifications of policies, practices, procedures, or the provision of auxiliary aids or services, will mitigate the risk.


To ensure equal access and nondiscrimination of our community members with disabilities, members of the Oxy community must abide by the following practices:

  1. Allow service animals to accompany people with disabilities on campus;
  2. Do not ask for details about a person’s disabilities;
  3. Do not pet a service animal, as it distracts the animal from its work;
  4. Do not feed a service animal;
  5. Do not deliberately startle, tease, or taunt a service animal; and
  6. Do not separate or attempt to separate a person from their service animal.

If a member of the Occidental College community has a disability that may be affected by the presence of animals, please contact the Disability Services Office. Oxy 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.


A student who wishes to file a disability discrimination complaint within any College program or activity can be reported via the College's Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation Policy.

Students with concerns about potential discrimination may also contact the United States Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development by phone at (800)-877-0246, or on the web at http://www.hud.gov/complaints/ (and click on Housing Discrimination), or the United States Department of Justice, Disability Rights Section by email at ADA.complaint@usdoj.gov, or on the web at http://www.ada.gov.



The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) assures people with disabilities who are accompanied by service animals that they will not be excluded from public places or activities, nor charged any additional fees, because they are accompanied by their service dog.  However, the ADA does not provide the same protection to service animals in training (that is, the ADA assures access for the handler/partner only if the dog is fully trained to give some disability-related service).

California state law (Civil Code, Div. 1, Part 2.5, § 54.2) provides those same rights of access for individuals who are actively engaged in training service animals, and who are recognized by the State of California as trainers.  For example, an individual employed by Guide Dogs for the Blind, who holds appropriate state licensure, and who is preparing future guide dogs to be paired with someone who is blind (in order to provide independent mobility), may bring the dog onto campus and interact with the campus community in public areas, campus offices, and so on.  State law also prescribes that service animals in training must be appropriately identified when accessing public accommodations, wearing a government issued tag identifying the animal as being in training.

Because California state law supports the presence of animals “in training" only when in the company of a permitted trainer, the College has established the following policy:  Service animals in training cannot be in residence in College housing, nor be present in other areas of campus except those places where all students are welcome to bring pets unless accompanied by a permitted trainer.  Similarly, puppies who are being raised/trained in preparation for participating in formal service animal training are not permitted in College housing or on campus except where pets are allowed.

Contact Disability Services
Berkus Hall

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Spring 2024 Office Hours

Mondays: 2-3pm
Thursdays: 2-3pm
Michelle Obergfoll
Director of Disability Services & Student Support