550-19: Service and Assistance Animals

Questions? Contact Campus Administrative Policies


Provides guidance with respect to presence of animals at UCSF.


This policy provides guidance with respect to presence of animals at UCSF.


Service animals (typically dogs) are trained to perform specific tasks to assist individuals with disabilities, including individuals with mental health disabilities. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a service animal has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Animals whose sole function is to provide comfort or support do not qualify as service animals. The ADA permits service animals to accompany people with disabilities in all campus areas (with some exceptions, such as sterile environments).

Assistance animals are animals which are necessary as a reasonable accommodation for an individual with a disability. Assistance animal is a wider term which includes two distinct categories: “service animals” and “emotional support animals.” An assistance animal is not a pet. It is an animal that 1) works, provides assistance, or performs tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, and/or 2) provides emotional support that alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of an individual’s disability, sometimes referred to as “emotional support animals.” Assistance animals which are not service animals under the ADA are not permitted in the Medical Center. But assistance animals may be permitted in work settings or in campus housing as a reasonable accommodation per the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), U.S. Fair Housing Act, 24 C.F.R. § 100.204, and Cal. Gov’t. Code §12927 and § 12955-12955.1.

Therapy, comfort, or companion animals are terms used to describe pets that provide comfort just by being with a person. Because they have not been trained to perform a specific job or task related to management of a disability, they do not qualify as service animals under ADA regulations; therefore, they are not allowed in most campus facilities.


Personal pets and other animals are generally prohibited in UCSF buildings, including UCSF leased space. However, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), California Government Code, and the United States Fair Housing Act contain provisions regarding service animals and assistance animals that ensure facilities and services are fully accessible to people with disabilities. Thus, University policies, practices, and procedures permit the presence of service and assistance animals used by employees, students, and members of the public with disabilities under the conditions detailed below.


For UCSF employees with disabilities seeking accommodation for a service or assistance animal, please contact:

UCSF Disability and Leave Management Services 
Phone: 415-476-2621

For UCSF students with disabilities who need a service or assistance animal while participating in any UCSF programs or using UCSF campus or housing facilities please contact:

Student Disability Services
500 Parnassus Ave, MU100w
San Francisco, CA 94143
Phone: 415-476-6595
[email protected]

For tenants with disabilities, Campus Life Services/Housing provides guidance for those seeking accommodation for assistance animals under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) regulations: https://www.hud.gov/sites/documents/SERVANIMALS_NTCFHEO2013-01.PDF

For more information about accessible housing service animal guidelines:

For patients and family with disabilities, UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital outpatient and inpatient areas permit people with disabilities to be accompanied by their service animals. There are restrictions for health and safety concerns and specific responsibilities of the owner while the service animal is at the healthcare facility. While service animals are permitted in the Medical Center, emotional support, therapy, companion, or comfort animals are not permitted. For information contact:

Patient Relations
Phone: 415-353-1936
Fax: 415-353-8556
Email: [email protected]