Animals on Campus

University Policy: 
Executive Summary: 

In consideration of the personal safety and well-being of the UNC Charlotte campus community, and in accordance with applicable state and federal laws, this Policy establishes requirements for accessibility, behavior, and treatment of animals on campus.  

I.     Introduction

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte recognizes that owners of Domestic Animals may desire to bring those animals to the campus; students may desire to bring emotional support animals into their on-campus housing; users of Service Animals or Service Animals in Training may find it necessary to bring those animals on campus; and Feral or Wild Animals may select the campus landscape as their habitat. In consideration of the personal safety and well-being of the UNC Charlotte campus community, and in accordance with applicable state and federal laws, this Policy establishes requirements for accessibility, behavior, and treatment of animals on campus. 

II.     Policy

No person may bring an animal onto the University campus, except for:

  1. Service Animals and Service Animals in Training as defined in Section III.A and III.B below and as provided in Section IV.A below;
  2. Approved Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) in on-campus housing, as defined in Section III.C and pursuant to the procedures in Section IV.B below;
  3. Domestic Animals, as defined in Section III.D below and as provided in Section IV.D below;
  4. Animals used for academic research, but only as provided in University Policy 310, Laboratory Animals Used for Teaching and Research; or
  5. Animals that are brought on campus for a purpose specifically approved and under conditions established by the Chancellor or a vice chancellor.

This Policy does not apply to animals on campus solely for the purpose of instructional use. 

III.        Definitions

A.         Service Animals

Service Animals are dogs that are individually trained to respond to an individual’s needs and 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.  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 Americans with Disabilities Act.

In some cases, upon assessment and determination by the Animal Compliance Committee (see Section V below), a miniature horse may be permitted on campus as a Service Animal, if the miniature horse has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability.  

In making such assessment and determination, the Animal Compliance Committee will consider the following factors:

  1. The type, size, and weight of the miniature horse and whether the University can accommodate these features;
  2. Whether the handler has sufficient control of the miniature horse;
  3. Whether the miniature horse is housebroken; and
  4. Whether the miniature horse's presence in specific campus facilities compromises legitimate safety requirements that are necessary for safe operation.
B.         Service Animals in Training

A Service Animal in Training is an animal in training to become a Service Animal when the animal is accompanied by a person who is training the Service Animal and the animal is wearing a collar and leash, harness, or cape that identifies the animal as a Service Animal in Training.

C.        Emotional Support Animals

An Emotional Support Animal (ESA) is an animal prescribed to a student with a disability by a healthcare or mental health professional to play a significant part in the student’s treatment process (e.g., in alleviating symptoms of that individual’s disability).  An ESA does not assist a person with a disability with their activities of daily living and does not accompany a person with a disability at all times or to locations on campus other than in the student’s assigned on-campus housing unit.  An approved ESA may live with a student in their on-campus housing only if approved in advance pursuant to the procedures provided in Section IV.B below.

D.        Domestic Animals

Domestic Animals are those species of animals that normally and customarily share human habitat and are normally dependent on humans for food and shelter, including dogs, cats, and other common domestic animals, but not including Feral or Wild Animals as defined in Section III.E below.  Service Animals and Service Animals in Training are not considered Domestic Animals for the purpose of this Policy.

E.         Feral or Wild Animals

Feral or Wild Animals are animals that are not socialized or domesticated.

IV.        Requirements

A.         Service Animals and Service Animals in Training

In University facilities and on the University campus:

  1. Service Animals and Service Animals in Training must be under control with devices as set forth in Section IV.D.1 below, unless these devices interfere with the animal’s work or the individual’s disability prevents using these devices. In that case, the individual must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal, or other effective controls.  A Service Animal in Training must be on a lead and under control at all times.
  2. Use of a Service Animal or Service Animal in Training may be prohibited if the use of the animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of other persons.
  3. Use of a Service Animal in Training may be prohibited if the presence of the Service Animal in Training will result in a fundamental alteration of the educational program or activity involved. Questions about the impact of the Service Animal on an educational program or activity should be addressed with the Office of Disability Services in consultation with the sponsoring department.
  4. When it is not obvious what service an animal provides, University officials may ask only two questions:  (1) Is the animal a Service Animal required because of a disability? and (2) What work or task has the animal been trained to perform? University officials cannot ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the animal, or ask that the animal demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task.
  5. University officials may ask an individual to remove a Service Animal or Service Animal in Training from University facilities or the University campus if:
    1. The animal poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others;
    2. The animal is out of control or disruptive and the animal’s handler does not take effective action to control it; or
    3.  The animal is not housebroken.
  6. Service Animals  in Training must meet the requirements set forth under Section IV.D below, except as otherwise provided.


B.         Emotional Support Animals in On-Campus Housing

Students may bring an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) into their assigned on-campus housing only upon approval by the Office of Disability Services (ODS). Having an ESA in on-campus housing without approval is not permitted.

To initiate a request to bring an ESA into assigned on-campus housing, a student must timely submit a completed “Request Form for an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) in On-Campus Housing” to the ODS for review in accordance with the process set forth in the “Guidelines and Request Form for an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) in On-Campus Housing.” Both documents are available upon request from the ODS.  Upon receipt of an ESA request form, ODS staff will:

  1. review the submitted request;
  2. meet with the student to discuss the ESA request;
  3. notify the student about whether the ESA request is approved; and
  4. if the ESA is approved, explain to the student the expectations and requirements for keeping an ESA in on-campus housing. 

Subsequently, if ODS staff approves the ESA, ODS staff will notify Housing and Residence Life (HRL) of the ODS approval of a student request for an ESA in on-campus housing.  HRL officials will process the request and counsel the student on HRL expectations and requirements of an owner/handler of an approved animal, and as appropriate, will assign the student on-campus housing.

C.         Feral or Wild Animals
  1. Feral or Wild Animals that are not a risk and do not represent a hazard, cause property damage, or create a public nuisance, and that do not require human intervention, may inhabit the campus grounds.
  2. No person may do anything to attract Feral or Wild Animals to campus, nor may any person feed or set out food or water for Feral or Wild Animals on campus or engage in any other human intervention. Human intervention includes, but is not limited to, attracting animals, feeding, watering, building of shelters for animals, and providing medication.
  3. Feral or Wild Animals that are a potential risk, represent a hazard, cause property damage, create a nuisance, or otherwise pose a potential threat to the health or safety of humans will be regulated, controlled, and humanely relocated in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations.


D.        Additional requirements

Except as otherwise set forth below, the following requirements apply to all Service Animals, Service Animals in Training, Emotional Support Animals in Campus Housing, and Domestic Animals on campus:

  1. All animals must be under control while on campus grounds, and restrained by a leash or other appropriate device that does not exceed six feet in length and that is under the control of their handler or by another responsible person.  At no time is an animal permitted to wander off leash or be let out of control by the handler. 
  2. All animals in dwelling units of campus residences, campus buildings, or on campus grounds must be fully inoculated in accordance with Mecklenburg County regulations, if such inoculation is required by Mecklenburg County, with the burden of proof on the owner or handler.
  3. Fecal matter deposited by any animal brought onto campus must be removed immediately and disposed of properly by the owner or handler.  The burden is on the animal handler to arrange for removal of fecal matter if they are personally unable to perform the task.
  4. With the exception of animals permitted in residence halls under the Housing and Residence Life Staff Pet Policy, or pursuant to an Emotional Support Animal in Campus Housing Student Agreement, Domestic Animals may not enter any:
    1. Campus building, including all residence and non-residence buildings;
    2. Enclosed or delineated outdoor athletic or recreational facility; or
    3. Officially reserved or scheduled outdoor event on campus. 
  5. Animals found tethered, unattended, or abandoned may be humanely impounded in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations.
  6. Animals 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.  In the event of endangerment to the animal or others, or public nuisance, the animal’s handler or owner is subject to citation and the animal may be humanely impounded.   
  7. Animals must have appropriate behavior while on campus.  If there is anything about the condition, health, or behavior of any animal on campus that is deemed by University officials to be a direct threat to the health or safety of any member of the campus community or to any other animal, if the owner cannot control the animal, if the animal is disruptive, or if the animal is not housebroken, then that animal may be removed from campus in any manner deemed necessary by University officials.  Such action may be taken regardless of whether the animal posing a threat would otherwise be permitted on campus under this Policy.   

V.         Responsibilities

The Associate Vice Chancellor Safety and Security, if necessary in consultation with Office of Disability Services, the ADA Compliance Officer, and/or Police and Public Safety, will be 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. Nothing in this Policy is intended to limit the freedom of the Associate Vice Chancellor for Safety and Security or Police and Public Safety in the assessment or handling of any situation involving an animal in University facilities or on the University campus.

The Office of Disability Services is responsible for maintaining any documentation regarding Service Animals, Service Animals in Training, and Emotional Support Animals under an approved student housing agreement.

The Animal Compliance Committee is responsible for making assessments and determinations about requests for accommodation of miniature horses as Service Animals.  The Animal Compliance Committee shall be comprised of the Associate Vice Chancellor Safety and Security, the Director of the Office of Disability Services, the ADA Compliance Officer, and the Chief of Police and Public Safety.

VI.        Violations of this Policy

All members of the campus community share the responsibility of implementing all aspects of this Policy. To report the presence of an animal in violation of this Policy, call Police and Public Safety at 911 from a campus phone or at 704-687-2200. Failure to comply with implementation of this Policy will result in the following consequences: 

  1. Any person who brings an animal onto campus in violation of this Policy will be required to remove the animal from campus immediately. 
  2. Any person who feeds or attracts animals on campus in violation of this Policy may be subject to disciplinary action in accordance with the disciplinary Policy applicable to the person’s status as a student, or employee. Those who are not students or employees may be trespassed from the campus. 
  3. Any person who allows their animal to stray or be unattended may have such animal impounded by Police and Public Safety and turned over to the local Animal Control Shelter.
Revision History: 
  • Initially approved by the Chancellor on July 25, 1977
  • Revised April 25, 1997
  • Revised October 30, 2000
  • Revised April 7, 2003
  • Revised March 9, 2010
  • Revised September 18, 2013
  • Revised October 30, 2018
  • Updated July 19, 2021

Authority: Chancellor

Responsible Office: Business Affairs

Related Resources: