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Animals on Campus Policy FAQs

Q. Why does WVU have an Animals on Campus Policy?

A. While the University has a longstanding tradition of being animal-friendly, we also recognize that having animals on campus potentially could disrupt certain activities and operations or pose a real or perceived threat to members of our campus community. As part of our efforts to promote a safe learning, working and living environment across our campuses, the Animals on Campus Policy clarifies where animals are permitted on campus and defines the roles and responsibilities of individuals who bring animals on WVU property.

Q. Who is governed by the policy?

A. The Animals on Campus Policy applies to all faculty, staff, contractors, students and visitors on all campuses across the WVU System.

Q. According to the policy, where are animals allowed on campus?

A. In general, animals are permitted outside on University-owned property as along as:

  • The animal is under the complete control of the owner at all times and presents no hazard to people or property.
  • The animal is secured to a restraint device (e.g., leash, cord, chain or similar device) of a maximum length of six feet.

    Note: If the restraint device interferes with a service animal’s work or if an individual’s disability prevents them from using a restraint device, the animal’s caregiver must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal or other effective controls while remaining within six feet of the animal. Further, physical constraint of the animal does not apply to special-purpose animals kept within an individual’s University housing assignment while the owner is present.
  • The animal is not tethered to a stationary fixture or tree or left unattended on campus. Animals on campus also must have a valid pet tax identification, current rabies vaccinations and/or any other treatments to ensure safety of other pets and the public at large.

In general, animals are not permitted in University buildings with the exception of special-purpose animals:

  • In accordance with applicable federal and state law, service animals are permitted access to all areas of campus to which their owners otherwise are permitted access.

  • Similarly, therapy animals are permitted access to all areas of campus to which their caregivers are permitted access. However, therapy animals must be registered with Auxiliary and Business Services and accompanied by their caregivers at all times while on campus. Complete this form to register your therapy animal.
  • In accordance with federal law, WVU students or employees with a disability are permitted to have an emotional support animal within their residence hall, apartment or other University housing. However, the individual first must receive approval from the from the Office of Accessibility Services .

    Note: Emotional support animals may not be brought into other campus buildings without prior authorization from the Office of Accessibility Services or WVU's ADA Coordinator.

Q. What does “special-purpose animal” mean?

A. For the purpose of the Animals on Campus Policy, “special-purpose animals” include:

  • Service Animals – Sometimes called “visitation animals,” service animals are any dog or miniature horse 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 impairment. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the handler’s disability.

  • Therapy Animals – Domestic animals that are provided by WVU for the benefit of members of the University community. Therapy animals have been appropriately trained by an approved trainer and are tolerant of a variety of environments and experiences, while also providing support to the University community by positively affecting overall mental and physical health, reducing stress factors and improving overall mood.

  • Emotional-Support Animals – Animals that in certain circumstances (pursuant to the Fair Housing Act) are necessary to afford a person with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy University housing. An emotional support animal may provide physical and emotional support; however, the animal does not perform work or tasks that would qualify it as a “service animal” under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Q. How are “domestic animals” defined within the policy?

A. For the purpose of the Animals on Campus Policy, “domestic animals” means any dog, cat or other socialized or domesticated animal that normally and customarily share human habitat and normally are dependent on humans for food and shelter. Domestic animals do not include feral animals or animals on University grounds for research purposes.

Q. What is considered a feral animal within the policy?

A. For the purpose of the Animals on Campus Policy, “feral animals” are animals that are neither socialized nor domesticated. Feral animals may inhabit the campus grounds as long as they:

  • Are not a risk and do not represent a hazard.

  • Do not cause property damage.
  • Do not create a public nuisance.

  • Do not require human intervention.

Q. Who is considered a “person with a disability” according to the policy?

A. In accordance with the Animals on Campus Policy, a “person with disability” is any individual with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. The individual must have a record of the impairment or be regarded as having the impairment. Contact the Office of Accessibility Services or WVU's ADA Coordinator for more information.

Q. Are there any exceptions to the Animals on Campus Policy?

A. Yes. The policy does not apply to animals involved in authorized research conducted by WVU or its affiliates or animals owned and used by law enforcement as part of their official duties. The policy also does not apply to animals used for performance on campus or involved in University-sponsored activities or events that have been approved in advance by the vice president of Strategic Initiatives.

Q. Are service animals permitted in hazardous or high-risk areas of campus?

A. Owners of service animals should take special caution and evaluate the potential risks when bringing animals into hazardous or high-risk areas (e.g., laboratories, gun ranges, agricultural sites, etc.) on campus. When the safety of the animal or other people is a concern, an interactive discussion should occur on a case-by-case basis to establish procedures for using the facility.

Q. How will the policy affect animals on the Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) system?

A. Service and therapy animals are allowed on the PRT with their caregiver. However, emotional support and domestic animals are not allowed to accompany riders on the PRT.

Q. What does the policy state in regard to feral animals on campus?

A. Feral animals may inhabit campus grounds as long as they are not a risk and do not represent a hazard, cause property damage, create a public nuisance or require human intervention. However, individuals are not permitted to do anything that attracts feral animals to campus, nor may they feed feral animals on campus or engage in any other human intervention.

Any feral animal that is a potential risk, represents a hazard, causes property damage, creates a nuisance or otherwise poses 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.

Q. Are there consequences for individuals who violate the policy?

A. Yes. Consequences for violating the Animals on Campus Policy include:

  • Any faculty or staff member or University volunteer who violates the policy will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action.

  • Any student who violates the policy will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action in accordance with the Student Code of Conduct.

  • WVU contractors and visitors who violate the policy will be subject to appropriate corrective action, including, but not limited to, issuance of a no trespass order or cancellation of relationship with the University.

Q. Who should I contact if I believe an animal on campus poses a potential threat?

A. If you believe an animal on campus presents an immediate threat to persons or property, contact University Police at 304-293-3136 (Morgantown campus) as soon as reasonably possible. If you are located at the WVU Potomac State College campus, contact University Police at 304-788-6931. If you are located at WVU Institute of Technology campus, contact University Police at 304-929-2677.

Q. Who do I contact with questions or for more information?

A. For general questions about the Animals on Campus Policy, contact Auxiliary and Business Services at or 304-293-7202. For information on accommodations, students should contact the Office of Accessibility Services. Faculty and staff should contact WVU's ADA Coordinator for information on workplace accommodations.