Animals on Campus

Recommended By
Ruben Armiñana, President
Issue Date
Monday, February 14, 1994
Current Issue Date
Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Effective Date
Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Contact Office
Environmental Health and Safety
Policy number


  1. The University recognizes that wild or feral animals may select the campus grounds as their habitat and that occasionally owners of domestic animals may bring their animals to the campus. However, the University considers the safety and health of Sonoma State University faculty, staff, and students to be of utmost priority.
  2. This policy is intended to help maintain the delicate balance required to sustain all wildlife on the campus grounds without human intervention, rather than to protect any one species of animal. The achievement of such balance requires the cooperation of all members of the campus community.
  3. This policy applies to all animals on campus not related to instructional activity. 
  4. Exceptions may be made to this policy on a case-by-case basis as required by applicable law.
  5. The abandonment of animals on campus grounds is strictly forbidden.
  6. Wild or feral animals
    1. Wild or feral animals that are not a risk and do not represent a hazard, cause property damage, or create a public nuisance, and that do not involve human intervention, will be allowed to inhabit the campus grounds.
    2. Prohibited human intervention includes, but is not limited to, feeding, building of shelters, and injection of medication.
    3. Wild or feral animals that are a potential risk, represent a hazard, cause property damage, create a nuisance, or otherwise pose a potential conflict for humans will be regulated, controlled, and humanely relocated in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations.
  7. Domestic animals (including service animals)
    1. Dogs, cats, and other animals must be under control while on campus grounds, and restrained by a leash, chain or harness that does not exceed 6 feet in length and that is in control of a responsible person.
    2. Any dog, cat, or other animal brought to campus must be licensed and fully inoculated in accordance with Sonoma County regulations, with the burden of proof on the owner.
    3. Fecal matter deposited by any dog, cat, or other animal brought to campus must be removed immediately and disposed of properly by the owner.  The burden is on the animal user to arrange for removal of fecal matter if he or she is personally unable to perform the task.
    4. Dogs, cats, and other animals may not enter campus buildings, including all residence and non-residence buildings. This paragraph does not apply to service animals, accompanying a person with a disability or an authorized service animal trainer, as defined by California Civil Code, §54.1, and 54.2.
    5. Domestic animals and pets found tethered, unattended, or abandoned may be humanely impounded in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations.
    6. Domestic animals and pets may be confined in vehicles parked on campus for a reasonable period of time, as long as the animal is not endangered and does not endanger others or create a public nuisance, e.g., excessive barking. In the event of endangerment to the animal or others, or public nuisance, the animal's owner is subject to citation and the animal may be humanely impounded.
  8. Service Animals
    1. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.
    2. University staff may require an individual with a disability to remove his service animal from the premises if:
      1. the animal is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it;
      2. the animal is not housebroken; or
      3. the presence of the service animal will result in a direct threat to health/safety of the service, program, or activity involved.
    3. When University staff determines that a person with a disability is required to remove a service animal pursuant to Section I.H.2 of this policy, staff will offer the person with the disability the opportunity to obtain goods or services without the animal's presence.
    4. The owner or handler must be in full control of the service animal at all times, as required in this policy under section I.G.1.
    5. Reasonable behavior and proper hygiene are expected from the service animal while on campus. If the animal exhibits unacceptable behavior, the owner is expected to employ proper training techniques and correct the situation to the satisfaction of all parties involved. Service animals with hygiene issues will be denied access to campus until the problem is dealt with effectively.

I. Special events

In special circumstances, approval may be obtained from the Director of Energy/Environmental Health and Safety for animals to be brought on campus for a singular event involving the display or demonstration of specialized skills or natural behaviors.

II. Responsibilities

  1. Environmental Health and Safety
    1. In all cases except service animals, the Director of Energy/Environmental Health and Safety is responsible for providing the final determination on the risk, potential hazard, potential for property damage, or potential for public nuisance of any animal on campus grounds.
    2. Environmental Health and Safety will maintain an animal control program in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations; humanely and expeditiously capture and relocate animals, as needed; and educate members of the campus community by informing them of the key aspects of this policy.
    3. All members of the campus community and other persons present on campus are required to comply with all aspects of this policy. Employees and students who fail to comply or who interfere with the implementation of this policy, including relocation of animals, will be subject to corrective or disciplinary action.