Animals on Campus

Policy title

Animals on Campus

Academic Affairs
Human Resources
Public Safety/Risk Management
Residential Education
Student Health
Student Life
Administrative Council
Approved by
Ad Council
Purpose of this policy

The purpose of this policy is to identify the specific circumstances under which animals are allowed in university buildings and athletic facilities, as itemized in “Policy Exemptions” below.  This policy is adopted to help ensure the safety, welfare, and sense of well-being of University community members and campus visitors.

Application of this policy

This policy applies to all University Community Members and Campus Visitors as defined in policy Section III (“Definitions”), below. All University Community Members and Campus Visitors are responsible for the conduct and condition of the animal(s) they own at all times the animal is on Campus. Additionally, University Community Members and Campus Visitors are subject to relevant laws and ordinances. 

Policy statement


Animals are prohibited from public indoor spaces, academic classrooms, offices, residence halls, and athletic facilities, except as provided for in the exemptions below.  Animals are allowed on the University Campus as long as the requirements in Section II (“Expectations for Bringing Animals on the University Campus”) are fully met.


1. Pets 

As stated above, animals are prohibited from public indoor spaces, academic classrooms, offices, residence halls, and athletic facilities, except as provided for in the exemptions below.

An Animal Owner is responsible for their Pet’s conduct while on Campus—including any damage caused by the animal to University or personal property. Such persons must clean up their Pet’s waste and have in their possession at all times the means to do so. 

In accordance with applicable laws and ordinances, any Pet brought to Campus must be restrained on a leash no more than 8 feet in length or be confined to appropriate carrier. Pets on Campus must display appropriate city licensing and vaccination tags. The Pet must be accompanied by a person at all times.   

Pets may not threaten or harm other animals, University Community Members, or Campus Visitors. Pets that display aggressive tendencies should not be brought to Campus. Pets that demonstrate aggressive behavior will be banned from Campus. 

Pets are not permitted in University-owned vehicles at any time. Pets in any other vehicles should not be left unattended on Campus. Security Services will ask for intervention from the Police Department if a Pet is found to be left unattended in a vehicle and is judged to be in distress by a reasonable person, including in a life- or health-threatening situation by exposure to a prolonged period of extreme heat or cold.  

Pets must not be left unattended on Campus. Securing a Pet outside a University Building to a bench, railing, garbage/recycling container, tree, or any other fixed item is not permitted and is considered as leaving the Pet unattended.  

Pets violating any of these requirements, including being left unattended and/or unsecured on Campus, may be impounded by Security Services and/or an external agency, consistent with relevant laws and ordinances. 


2. Research/Demonstration Animals 

Research/Demonstration Animals are animals kept or brought on Campus for the sole purpose of educating students through research, demonstration, and experimentation. These animals are part of the University curriculum and kept or brought on Campus under the authority of the Provost. The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), as mandated by federal law, oversees and evaluates all aspects of the institution's animal care and use program. The IACUC assures that animal research conducted at the University remains in full compliance with federal, state and local regulations and institutional policies. 


3. Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals  

Service Animals are allowed on Campus and in all University Buildings. A student with a Service Animal is encouraged to notify their instructors, each semester, before class begins. Faculty and Staff with a Service Animal are encouraged to notify Human Resources. Emotional Support Animals are more restricted in their access. Under very specific circumstances and with prior approval by the Residential Education Office, Emotional Support Animals belonging to students may be allowed to live in an on-campus residential facility in accordance with applicable law. Faculty and staff wishing to have an Emotional Support Animal in their workspace must submit the appropriate accommodation request to Human Resources. The request must be approved by Human Resources before an Emotional Support Animal may be brought to the workplace.  While on Campus, Owners of Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals must adhere to the University policy and all relevant laws and ordinances. An Animal’s Owner must clean up the animal’s waste and have in their possession at all times the means to do so. 


4. Wild and Stray Animals 

University Community Members and Campus Visitors should not feed any Wild Animal on Campus or harbor Stray Animals on Campus, unless the Provost has approved such interaction as part of a University research project. 



Animal Owner (or “Owner”): The person who is responsible for the custody, control, or possession of an animal while on the University Campus, including individuals who handle, train, or control the animal.  

Campus: See “University Campus”. 

Campus Visitor(s): All persons temporarily on Campus who are not enrolled students or employed by the University. As examples, contractors, vendors, service providers, prospective students and their families, conference attendees, and Lincoln community members are all considered visitors to Campus.  

Emotional Support Animal(s): An animal that provides comfort just by being with a person. Because an Emotional Support Animal has not been trained to perform a specific job or task, it does not qualify as a Service Animal under this policy. An Emotional Support Animal must be approved and registered with the Residential Education Office (students), or Human Resources (faculty/staff). 

Pet(s): Any animal owned and/or handled by a person that is not specifically designated as a Service Animal or Emotional Support Animal and is not considered a Wild or Stray Animal.  

Research/Demonstration Animal(s): An animal kept or brought on Campus for the sole purpose of educating students through research, demonstration, and experimentation. These animals are part of the University curriculum and kept or brought on Campus under the authority of the Provost.  

Service Animal(s): Animals, typically dogs, individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. 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, or performing other duties. Service Animals are working animals, not Pets. In order to be considered a Service Animal under this policy, the work or task an animal has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability and/or illness. Any animal whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support is not considered a Service Animal under this policy. The animal’s owner must provide documentation for the Service Animal to the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities (students), or Human Resources Office (faculty/staff).  This documentation will be maintained in accordance with the University Record Retention policy.  

University Building(s): Any and all structures owned and/or controlled by the  University. University property used for the sole purpose of providing temporary housing for faculty and staff is exempt from this policy and animals in such housing are subject to any applicable provisions in the University lease agreements for such property so long as the animal is inside the house or on the housing property.  

University Campus (or “Campus”): Any and all University Buildings (permanent and temporary structures) and University Grounds (outdoor spaces including, but not limited to, athletic spaces, sidewalks, and fields) owned and controlled by the University.   

University Community Member(s): For purposes of this policy, these are University students, faculty, and staff members. 

University Grounds: Any outdoor space owned and controlled by the University, including but not limited to athletic spaces, sidewalks, and fields.  

Wild and Stray Animal(s): An animal that has not been domesticated or tamed and is usually living in a natural environment, and/or a domesticated animal that has been separated from its owner. 



The University is committed to compliance with state, federal and local laws regarding individuals with disabilities and providing reasonable accommodations as required by law to afford equal opportunity access to its programs, services and activities.  This policy should not be construed to abridge or supersede any rights or responsibilities put forth in any local, state, or federal laws, including but not limited to the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, or the Fair Housing Act.  

Exemptions from this policy
  1. Research/Demonstration Animals that have been pre-approved by the Provost as part of the curriculum are allowed on the University Campus. 
  1. Service Animals that have been approved by the Office of Disability Services.  
  1. Emotional Support Animals approved by the Residential Education Office are allowed in residence halls in accordance with the policies of the Residential Education Office.(Please see NWU Student Housing Policies for additional details for Emotional Support Animals). 
  1. Therapy pets used as a part of programming to offer Emotional Support must be pre-approved by the Office of Student Life.