Best Practices for Service Animals on Campus

Service Animals allow their handlers to function independently or increase their independence, both within their homes and in public. They can be an essential tool that allows a person with a disability to fully participate in society.

People use Service Animals for many reasons, including but not limited to:

  • vision loss
  • being culturally Deaf, oral deaf, deafened or hard of hearing
  • mental health disabilities
  • physical disabilities
  • epilepsy or other seizure-related disorders
  • autism or other developmental/ intellectual disabilities


Queen’s is committed to the inclusion and accommodation of persons with disabilities. This includes the presence of Service Animals that assist visitors, students or employees within all aspects of University life including Queen’s-related functions both on and off campus.

Queen’s Service Animals on Campus Policy

To assist the University, Handlers, Owners, Providers and Persons in Authority to understand the responsibilities and requirements of utilizing Service Animals on campus to ensure persons with disabilities who rely on Service Animals are accommodated, subject to obligations under the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, and to any legal limitations.

Service Animal on Campus Policy

Queen’s Residence Service Animal Guidelines

For students planning to have a service animal with them in residence need to be aware of these guidelines.

Queen’s Residence Service Animal Guidelines (PDF 678KB)

What qualifies as a Service Animal?

Service Animal qualifications differ from province to province. In Ontario, according to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA),

  1. the animal can be readily identified as one that is being used by the person for reasons relating to the person’s disability, as a result of visual indicators such as the vest or harness worn by the animal; or
  2. the person provides documentation from one of the following regulated health professionals confirming that the person requires the animal for reasons relating to the disability:
  • A member of the College of Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists of Ontario.
  • A member of the College of Chiropractors of Ontario.
  • A member of the College of Nurses of Ontario.
  • A member of the College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario.
  • A member of the College of Optometrists of Ontario.
  • A member of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.
  • A member of the College of Physiotherapists of Ontario.
  • A member of the College of Psychologists of Ontario.
  • A member of the College of Registered Psychotherapists and Registered Mental Health Therapists of Ontario.

Therapy, emotional support, and comfort animals

The terms "therapy animals", "emotional support animals", and "comfort animals" are not defined by legislation in Ontario. Therapy, emotional support, and comfort animals qualify as Service Animals when the animal meets the Service Animal definition found in Ontario Regulation 191/11 of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, section 80.45 and documentation from one of the regulated health professionals listed in the Service Animal definition above is provided to confirm that the person requires the animal for reasons relating to their disability.

Best Practices

  • Service Animals should not be distracted; they are working. Avoid touching or addressing them;
  • If you are unsure whether it is a Service Animal or a pet, you may ask the Owner/Handler;
  • Service Animals should be fed only by the Owner/Handler;
  • Service Animals foster independence and freedom for persons with disabilities. If the Owner/Handler needs your help, they will ask for it.

Queen's is committed to welcoming people with disabilities who are accompanied by a Service Animal to ensure access to Queen’s University goods, services, facilities, housing, employment, buildings, structures, and premises. If a person with a disability is accompanied by a Guide Dog or other Service Animal, University Providers shall ensure that the person is permitted to enter the premises with the animal and to keep the animal with them, unless the animal is otherwise excluded from the premises. More information on situations or environments that may exclude Service Animals, please refer to Queen’s Service Animals on Campus Policy. Regulations under Ontario’s Health Protection & Promotion Act (2020) state that service animals are permitted in rooms where food is served, sold or offered for sale.

If a service animal is required to be excluded from a space on campus, other arrangements will need to be explored in order to provide reasonable accommodations for the person with a disability, up to the point of undue hardship, so as to allow the person with a disability to obtain, use or benefit from the University’s services and facilities. For more information, please connect with the Accessibility Hub.

  • Allow a Service Animal to accompany the Owner/Handler at all times and in all areas on campus where members of the public (visitors and students) customarily have access, or in the case of an employee, where employees customarily have access.
  • Speak to the Owner/Handler before giving attention to the animal.
  • Maintain a respectful distance from the Service Animal. It is not appropriate to pet, feed or startle a Service Animal while it is working; ask permission before touching the animal as this might distract it from its work.
  • Ensure that an Owner/Handler and their Service Animal can remain together; in case of an emergency, every effort should be made to keep the animal with its Owner/Handler. However, the first effort should be toward the Owner/Handler; this may necessitate leaving an animal behind in certain emergency situations.
  • Do not add extra charges for a Service Animal.
  • Ensure that a person using a Service Animal is included and not isolated from others.

Although allergies or a fear of animals are generally not sufficient conditions to exclude a Service Animal, in some cases a person’s allergy or phobia may be so severe that the presence of an animal prevents participation. In those situations, the affected person may also request an accommodation though Advisors of the appropriate offices: 

  • Queen's Student Accessibility Services (QSAS) Accessibility Services Advisors who support students with disabilities and approve academic accommodation plans. 
  • Human Resources Return to Work and Accommodation Services (HR) Advisors, who provide assistance for employees requiring access to a workplace accommodation. 
  • The Human Rights Advisory Services Advisors who provide information and assistance regarding protections available under the Ontario Human Rights Code and related university policies. 
  • The Residence Admissions Manager with Queen’s Residences. 

Some interim options that may be considered include: 

  • Creating distance between the two individuals. 
  • Eliminating in-person contact. 
  • Changing the time the two individuals receive the goods, services, or access facilities. 

Each situation is reviewed on a case-by-case basis that considers all relevant factors and options in trying to find a solution that meets the needs of everyone involved.

In support of accessibility, the University may allow Service Animals in training on campus. However, Service Animals in training are not approved to live in Residences until their training is complete. To request permission to bring a Service Animal in training to campus, please contact the Department of Environmental Health and Safety.

For Owners/Handlers

  • The Owner/Handler must be in full control of the animal at all times, including but not limited to; use of a leash or carrier, as appropriate for the circumstance. The animal must not be a disruption to others.
  • The care and supervision of a service animal is solely the responsibility of its Owner/Handler.
  • The Owner/Handler is responsible for cleaning up the animal’s waste. The Owner/Handler should always carry equipment and bags sufficient to clean and properly dispose of the animal’s waste. Owner/Handlers who are not physically able to pick up and dispose of waste are responsible for making all necessary arrangements for assistance.
  • The Owner/Handler is responsible for damage caused by the animal; however, the University can only charge for damages if a person without an animal would be charged for the same type of damage.

Although formal training is not a legislative requirement, it is in the best interests of the person with a disability to ensure that their Service Animal has been trained by a reputable organization where appropriate for the species. The campus environment has many opportunities for unique situations for Owners/Handlers and their Service Animals to encounter. Training can teach the animal how to respond to various situations on campus that can give rise to problematic behaviour which can be very distressing for their Owners/Handlers. Reputable training programs ensure consistency of expectations of the Service Animal and also usually include a component that focuses on training the Owner/Handler of the Service Animal. This assists the Owner/Handler deal with unexpected situations on campus.

There are members of the campus community who will directly challenge someone who is responsible for an animal that is behaving poorly. Students with mental health difficulties in particular might find this kind of attention aggravates their condition rather than relieving it.

Local ordinances regarding animals apply to service dogs and cats, including requirements for immunization, licensing, noise, at-large animals and dangerous animals. Dogs and cats must wear a license tag and a current rabies vaccination tag from its home municipality.

  • The Owner/Handler is responsible for the health and welfare of the Service Animal and for providing food, water, bathroom and exercise breaks in a timely manner.
  • Dogs: daily exercise is important for the health of most dogs who act as Service Animals. Taking your dog to an appropriate off-campus location to run and play can help to avoid unwanted behaviour problems.
  • Please note: Don’t allow your dog to run on any artificial turf field such as Tindall Field, Nixon Field, or Richardson Stadium. The artificial turf contains pellets which may be toxic to animals.
  • Keeping the Service Animal clean and groomed at all times.
  • Cleaning up and disposing of any animal waste in a timely manner.
  • When a crate or cage is used, it must be the appropriate size, secure, in good repair and well ventilated.
  • Service animals are expected to be fully vaccinated and treated for fleas and ticks as appropriate to the species. Service Animals should be bathed and groomed.

Reporting Poor Service Animal Behavior 

In the event that the behaviour of a Service Animal is aggressive or threatening (e.g. lunging, baring teeth, growling, biting), the person with a concern should immediately contact Campus Security and Emergency Services  (613-533-6733 or for emergencies only: 613-533-6111) for assistance and then the Department of Environmental Health and Safety for further investigation.

In all other cases, when there is genuine concern about the behaviour or presence of a Service Animal, the person with a concern should first attempt to resolve the matter by respectfully bringing the issue to the attention of the Owner/Handler.

Should attempts to speak directly with the Owner/Handler not be possible or do not resolve the matter, the person with a concern should bring the issue to the attention of the relevant Provider1 or to a Person in Authority2 capable of addressing the situation. In such cases, Providers and/or Persons in Authority are encouraged to consult with the Department of Environmental Health & Safety for advice.

The Department of Environmental Health & Safety will contact QSAS, and/or Housing & Ancillary Services (particularly where academic accommodations or campus Residences or Foodservice operations are involved) or Return to Work and Accommodation Services (particularly where employment accommodations are involved) as appropriate in determining next steps.

1 Members of the Queen’s community who provide access to goods, services, or facilities, or who organize events on behalf of the university.

2 Senior managers, unit/department heads, and supervisors responsible for the University’s living, learning, or working environment.