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Service & Assistance Animals


A service animal is defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as any dog1 that is individually trained 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.

1ADA revised regulations include a separate provision regarding miniature horses which have been trained to do work or perform tasks for individuals with disabilities. Entities covered by the ADA must modify their policies to permit miniature horses when reasonable.

Examples of such work or tasks include, but are not limited to, guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, providing physical support and assistance with balance to individuals with mobility impairments, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. The work or task a service animal has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability.

Assistance animals, therapy animals and companion animals are not service animals under the ADA. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of these guidelines. The crime deterrent effects of an animal’s presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition.

Position Statement

As a general rule, UAB will modify policies, practices, and procedures to permit the use of a service animal by an individual with a disability. Service animals are exempt from the university’s policy of no animals on campus and are generally permitted in all facilities and programs on the UAB campus that are open to the public or to students except as described below.

License or Documentation

A service animal does not have to be licensed or certified as a service animal. UAB officials may, however, appropriately ask the individual to answer: a) whether the service animal is required because of a disability, and b) what work or task(s) the animal is trained to perform.

Service Animals in UAB Non-Residential Facilities

  • Students who use a service animal in UAB facilities are not required, but are strongly encouraged, to contact UAB Disability Support Services (DSS), who can assist in making recommendations on how the student can handle inquiries. It is helpful for DSS to know the type of service animal, a description of the service animal (e.g. weight, breed, etc.), and the animal's name.
  • Visitors: Service animals accompanying individuals with disabilities are welcome in all areas of campus that are open to the public, except as otherwise prohibited in this policy. Specific questions related to the use of service animals on the UAB campus by visitors can be directed to DSS (contact information below).