Animals on Campus

Recommended By
Judy K. Sakaki, President
Issue Date
Monday, February 14, 1994
Current Issue Date
Wednesday, November 10, 2021
Effective Date
Wednesday, November 10, 2021
Contact Office
Risk Management
Policy number

Purpose and Scope

The purpose of this policy is to provide equal access and reasonable accommodation for students, campus residents, and visitors with disabilities and to protect Sonoma State University (the University) community from hazards associated with or caused by animals, both domestic and wild. This policy is applicable to any students, employees, campus residents, and visitors in any building, or on any property owned or controlled by the University. This policy excludes animals associated with research or teaching purposes. (Please refer to Animal Care and Use policy). This policy is in compliance with all California State University policies on such animals.

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.

Responsible Offices

The Sonoma State Police Department (SSPD) is responsible for enforcement of state law, and coordination of the response to animals that are in danger of harm or pose a potential threat to the community. A response may be in conjunction with other campus departments and/or allied agencies.

The Disability Services for Students Office (DSS) is responsible for providing support services to students using a Service Animal on campus, as needed, and is responsible for the authorization of an Emotional Support animal accommodation in residential living spaces.

Residential Education and Campus Housing (REACH) is responsible for the determination and enforcement of regulations related to domestic animals in the Residential Communities

Risk Management is responsible for the approval and regulation of animals brought to campus in connection with special events and for providing the final determination on the risk, potential hazard, potential for property damage, liability exposure, or potential for nuisance of any animal on campus grounds.


Animal Nuisances: Any animal which has committed one or more of the following acts is deemed to be a nuisance:

  • An infliction of physical injury upon any person where the person is conducting themselves lawfully.
  • Threatening behavior toward any person where the person is conducting themselves lawfully and which occurs in such circumstances as to reasonably cause the person to fear for their physical safety.
  • The utterance of barks or cries which are loud, frequent and continued over a period of time.
  • An unprovoked infliction of physical injury upon any other animal.
  • The damaging of University property or the personal property of some person other than the owner or keeper of the animal.
  • Any fecal matter deposited by domestic animals and not removed immediately.
  • Any unattended, unleashed, or otherwise uncontrolled domestic animal.
  • The dumping of trash cans or the spreading of trash.
  • The chasing of pedestrians, bicycles or vehicles.

Domestic Animal: An animal that has been trained or adapted to living in a human environment. Such animals include, but are not limited to, dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, fish, and other types of household pets.

Feral Animal: A once-domestic animal that has reverted to an untamed state.

University Property: Any land, buildings or facilities owned, leased, or operated by the University and its affiliated auxiliary organizations.

Campus Grounds: The land around University buildings and facilities.

Campus Buildings: Buildings or facilities that are University property.

Wild Animal: A non-domesticated animal.

Note: The following definitions provide distinctions between Emotional Support and Service Animals as defined by federal and state law. These laws are evolving; the intention of these definitions is to be consistent with those laws.

Emotional Support Animal: An emotional support animal (ESA) is an animal that is not trained to perform specific tasks directly related to an individual’s disability but provides emotional support, which alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person’s disability. An emotional support animal may also be referred to as an assistance animal, a comfort animal, or a therapy animal. An emotional support animal is not restricted by species like a service animal. An emotional support animal must have current vaccinations, be under control, and be maintained in a manner that considers the health and hygiene of the animal and those who come in contact with the animals. Dogs and cats, for example, must be housebroken and well-groomed. Emotional support animals must also meet additional requirements specified in an approval allowing the emotional support animal in university housing. Emotional support animals are not protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Service Animal: A dog (or miniature horse) that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act and California Code of Regulations. A service animal does not need to be formally trained or to be certified that it has been trained.


The University recognizes that individuals may bring their Domestic, Service, or Assistive Animals to campus and that Wild or Feral Animals may use campus grounds as their habitat. This policy is intended to prioritize the safety and health of students, employees and visitors, and animals as it relates to animals on University property.

Animals may not enter any non-residential campus building with the exception of Service Animals and other exceptions as set forth herein.

Service Animals

Service Animals are permitted to accompany their owner or trainer anywhere on University Property, except in areas and situations where it is unsafe to do so or where the presence of the animal fundamentally alters the nature of the service, program, or activity (California Civil Code § 54.2.) e. If personal protective equipment (PPE) is required of personnel in teaching and research laboratories, then Service Animals entering laboratories must be similarly protected depending on the PPE requirements of the area.

Use of a Service Animal on University Property may not be challenged except if the use of the animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of other persons, or if the presence of the Service Animal will result in a fundamental alteration of the service, program, or activity involved.

Only two questions may be asked of an individual with a Service Animal:

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

DSS will have a procedure for the management and support of service animals for students. Human Resources will be responsible for the management and approval of service animals for employees.

Animals for Residents on Campus

Residential Education and Campus Housing (REACH) maintains and enforces animal and pet policies for the Residential Community as outlined in this policy and the housing addendum contracts. Emotional Support Animals (ESA) are recognized by the Fair Housing Act and California Fair Employment and Housing Act as a reasonable disability accommodation within campus housing. Additionally, REACH is responsible for the determination and enforcement of regulations related to domestic animals in the Residential Communities.

A resident student requesting an ESA must meet with the DSS to determine eligibility through a review of appropriate documentation from a licensed mental health provider. ESAs for students are not recognized by the Americans with Disabilities Act and are therefore not permitted in other university buildings except for the one in which the student resides.

Once eligibility is established and the ESA recommendation is authorized to the requesting student, the resident must meet with the appropriate REACH personnel to review and sign residential housing agreement forms.

Residents must ensure the animal is up to date on required vaccinations and licensure (if necessary), is clean, free of pests and offensive odors, displays behaviors that contribute to a safe residential community, and does not represent a danger to the health and safety of others.

Domestic Animals

Domestic Animals, excluding Service Animals, are not allowed in any campus buildings. Domestic Animals must be under control while on any campus grounds, restrained by a leash that does not exceed six (6) feet in length and in the possession of the animal's handler.

Any Domestic Animal brought to campus must be licensed and fully vaccinated, with the burden of proof on the owner.
Fecal matter deposited by any Domestic Animal brought to campus must be removed immediately by the animal's owner or handler.

Owners or handlers may not feed their Domestic Animals on campus grounds.

Domestic Animals found tethered, unattended or abandoned may be impounded in accordance with all applicable law and regulations. Domestic Animals may be confined in vehicles parked on campus for a reasonable period of time. However the animal must not be endangered and must not endanger others or create a nuisance.

Wild or Feral Animals

Wild or Feral Animals that are not a risk and do not represent a hazard, cause property damage, or create a nuisance, and that do not require human intervention, will be allowed to inhabit the campus grounds.

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 may be regulated, controlled, and relocated in accordance with all applicable laws, regulations, and best practices.

Prohibited human intervention includes, but is not limited to, feeding, trapping, building of shelters, and injection of medication. Such activities may only be performed by authorized agencies or organizations who have established authority or responsibility or the authorization of Risk Management or Sonoma State Police Department.

Any wild or feral animals that pose a potential threat to the community should be reported to Sonoma State Police Department, who is responsible for the coordination and management with local authorities and agencies such as Fish and Wildlife and Animal Control.

Other Animals

Approval must be obtained in advance from Risk Management for non-Service Animals or non-ESAs to be brought on campus for a singular event involving the display or demonstration of specialized skills or natural behaviors, or any animal used for instructionally related activities outside of regularly scheduled classes. Some examples are (but not limited to): animals used in theater productions and visiting comfort dogs during finals week.

Any person participating or attending an official University event and any employee performing official duties is not authorized to bring domestic animals to such events or have present during the execution of official duties without the written consent of Risk Management.


  • Animal Care and Use policy
  • California Education Code §89031
  • California Civil Code §54.1 and §54.2
  • California Penal Code §374.4 and §597a
  • California Code of Regulations §11065 and §11069
  • Title V Article 9, ADA Title 3, §36.302
  • Code of Federal Regulations 28 CFR §35.104 and §136