Animals on Campus

Policy Approval Authority President
Responsible University Office Multiple
Responsible Officer(s) Multiple
Contact Person Shannon Stoker,
Primary Audience Faculty
Status Active
Last Review Date 07-13-2021
Policy Category/Categories Athletics
Campus Safety / Security
Ethics & Conduct
Facilities / Real Estate
Faculty & Academics
Finance / Risk Management
Human Resources / Employment
Marketing & Communication
Research Ethics / Intellectual Property

Policy Statement and Purpose
Policy By Animal Class

Policy Statement and Purpose

The University recognizes, for a variety of reasons and purposes, that domestic animals may inhabit University grounds and University buildings. The University also acknowledges that wild or feral animals will inhabit campus grounds.

The University considers the safety and health of NIU faculty, staff, students and visitors of utmost priority.  The circumstances under which animals may be permitted access to campus grounds and facilities are subject to federal and state law and local ordinances, as well as University policy.

In consideration of personal safety and the well-being of the NIU campus community, and in accordance with applicable federal and state law and local ordinances, the purpose of this Policy is to establish requirements for the presence, behavior, and treatment of animals on campus. If a situation on an NIU campus arises where serious harm or injury has occurred to either an animal or human, Public Safety should be immediately contacted at 911. 

NIU students are required to adhere to the Student Code of Conduct in addition to this policy.  Staff and faculty requesting an accommodation in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) are required to contact the ADA Coordinator . Students requesting an accommodation in accordance with the ADA are required to contact the Disability Resource Center .


This Policy applies to all animals on campus and includes the following classes of animals:

  • Domestic Animals
  • Service/Assistance Animals
  • Therapy Animals
  • Emotional/Support Animals
  • Feral/Wild Animals
  • Official University Mascots
  • Dogs at Outdoor Athletic Events
  • Police Animals
  • Research Animals

These animals may be wild, feral, or brought onto campus by individuals or organizations.

The policy pertains to animals on all University-controlled grounds and spaces, including, but not limited to residence halls, cooperative and other small living units, academic buildings, administrative offices, outdoor spaces on campus, and all off-campus locations including the Hoffman Estates, Naperville, and Rockford satellite campuses.  This policy does not override or supersede regulations set forth by University Housing and Residential Services in the Housing Handbook. The Lorado Taft Field Campus maintains additional animal policy provisions for staff housing facilities, which are maintained by the Campus Director.


Direct Physical Control: Physical restraint of an animal in such a way that it is not likely to escape.

Direct Threat: A significant risk to the health or safety of others that cannot be eliminated by a modification of policies, practices, or procedures, or by the provision of auxiliary aids or services.

Domestic Animal: A member of a species that normally and customarily shares human habitat and is normally dependent on humans for food and shelter in the county, including dogs, cats, birds, rabbits and other common domestic animals, but not including feral or wild animals as defined herein.

Emotional Support/Assistance Animal: An animal that is necessary to afford a person with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling when there is an identifiable relationship or nexus between the person’s disability and the assistance the animal provides.

Feral Animal: A once-domestic animal that has reverted to an untamed state.

Leash: A cord, chain or other similar restraint, not to exceed eight (8) feet in length, controlled by the owner of the animal or other responsible person.

Owner: Any person having a right of property in an animal, or who keeps or harbors an animal, or who has it in his or her care, or acts as its custodian, or who knowingly permits an animal to remain on any premises occupied by him or her.

Person with a Disability: A person with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such impairment, or is regarded as having such impairment.

Pet: A domestic animal kept for pleasure or companionship.

Police Animal: An animal owned or used by a law enforcement department or agency in the course of the department or agency's work.

Rescue Animal: A dog or other animal trained to assist rescue workers and first responders.

Research and Testing Animals: Approved animals used directly in support of NIU’s mission of teaching, research, and or clinical programs as used in accordance with guidelines established by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee and the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation Partnerships.

Service Animal: 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 disability. There is no legal requirement for service animals to be visibly identified or to have documentation.  Service animals are permitted in all University facilities.  Animals whose sole function are to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.

Therapy Animal: An animal that aids a person for therapeutic purposes including physical rehabilitation for a specific event or campus exercise.

University Mascot: An animal, as an official representation of a school, professional sports team, military unit, or brand name.

Wild Animal: A non-domesticated animal living in its natural habitat.

Policy by Animal Class

A. Domestic Animals

  • Dogs, cats, and other animals must be under direct physical control while on campus grounds, and restrained by a leash, chain, or harness that does not exceed eight (8) feet in length and that is in control of a responsible person. Domestic animals participating in University approved events such as shows and exhibitions may be exempt from this requirement during the time of their participation. Police animals are exempt from this requirement during training or while completing duties.
  • Should a domestic animal create a persistent nuisance (such as repetitive barking or aggressive behavior) the owner or their handler will be asked to remove the animal from campus.
  • No animals will be allowed in University owned vehicles without express written permissions from the University Transportation Department. University Police vehicles are exempt from this provision.
  • No animals will be allowed in University offices during normal business hours of 8am to 5 pm, except for service animals.
  • Anyone wishing to bring animals on campus for a show or event that may necessitate the need for services from Facilities Management and Campus Services to facilitate preparation of such event (i.e. petting zoo or demonstration) must submit a work request to the Physical Plant for further review and approval.
  • Any dog, cat, or other animal brought to campus must be licensed and fully vaccinated in accordance with local or county regulations, with the burden of proof on the owner.
  • Fecal matter deposited by any dog, cat, or other animal brought to campus must be removed immediately and disposed of properly by the owner. The burden is on the owner or handler to arrange for removal of fecal matter if unable to perform the task.
  • Domestic animals and pets found tethered, unattended, or abandoned will be reported to the NIU Department of Police and Public Safety (or local police at the satellite campuses) and may be humanely impounded in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations.
  • Owners of animals will be responsible for any damage to University or personal property caused by that animal.
  • Animal bites occurring on University property or at University sponsored events must be reported to the NIU Police Department and to Animal Control.
  • No owner or person shall confine any animal in a motor vehicle in such a manner that places it in a life or health-threatening situation by exposure to a prolonged period of extreme heat or cold, without proper ventilation or other protection from such heat or cold. In order to protect the health and safety of an animal, an animal control officer, law enforcement officer, or University investigator who has probable cause to believe that this Section is being violated shall have authority to enter such motor vehicle by any reasonable means; after making a reasonable effort to locate the owner or other person responsible.
  • The NIU Police Department or local Animal Control will notify owners of impounded animals with identification or registration tags when possible.
  • Individuals wishing to report a loose or unattended animal, or owners of animals who wish to inquire about an animal that may have been impounded, should contact the NIU Police Department or local Animal Control for more information.
  • The owners of impounded animals will be responsible for payment of all costs incurred as the result of impoundment, including personal property damage and veterinary expenses.

B. Service Animals

  • Sections 4.A of this policy, concerning domestic animals on campus, also apply to service animals on campus.
  • Faculty and staff with service animals on campus are overseen by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Coordinator. Students with service animals on campus are overseen by the Disability Resource Center (DRC).
  • If a miniature horse is to be used as a service animal, an assessment may be made. The assessment factors are:
    • Whether the miniature horse is housebroken;
    • Whether the miniature horse is under the owner’s control;
    • Whether the facility can accommodate the miniature horse’s type, size, and weight; and
    • Whether the miniature horse’s presence will not compromise legitimate safety requirements necessary for safe operation of the facility.  If the animal is out of control and the animal’s handler does not take effective action to control it, or the animal is not housebroken, then the University can ask for the removal.
  • Any animal whose behavior poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others, would cause substantial physical damage to the property of others, would pose an undue financial and administrative burden or would fundamentally alter the nature of the University’s operations may be excluded regardless of training, documentation, or certification.
  • The cost of care, food, arrangements, supervision and maintenance of a service or assistance animal are the sole responsibility of the owner at all times. Service and assistance animals on campus must:
    • Meet all requirements for the presence of animals in public places (vaccinations, licensure, ID tags, etc.) mandated by state law or local ordinances.
    • Be clean. Daily grooming and occasional baths (at a veterinarian office or a family home) are recommended. Flea and other infestation control is essential. If a flea or infestation problem develops, this must be dealt with immediately including, but not limited to, personal and animal cleaning with appropriate treatment for the problem. Students who discover a flea or infestation problem are expected to notify residential services or the DRC if the animal is registered, immediately. Failure to correct the problem could result in removal of the animal.
    • Be in good health. The animal must be licensed and fully vaccinated in accordance with local or county regulations, with the burden of proof on the owner.
    • Be under control. The Owner/Handler must be in full control of their animal at all times. This may include the use of a harness, leash or tether, unless these devices interfere with the animal’s work or the disability prevents using them. If an animal exhibits unacceptable behavior, the owner is expected to employ the proper training techniques to correct the situation, which may include voice, signal or other effective controls.
    • Not cause damage to the campus. The Owner/Handler is financially responsible for any property damage caused by the animal while on campus.
    • Defecate in appropriate places.
    • Not cause undue financial burdens upon the University. All functions of animal use, including training or re-training, travel, animal food purchasing, maintenance, grooming and veterinarian care are the Owner/Handler’s responsibility.
  • In addition to the above, service animals in campus housing and dining facilities must:
    • Have vocalizations or noises kept to a minimum.
    • Not be bathed in the shower rooms, bathtubs or sinks of residence halls.
    • Have their food stored in a covered container.
  • Furthermore, service animals in dining centers must:
    • Remain quietly by the student’s chair or under the table and out of the way of others.
    • Not disturb others at the table in any way, including other animals.
    • Keep their noses and all body parts off tables, trays and food-servicing counters at all times.
    • Stay out of food preparation areas.
    • For additional information please visit the Disability Resource Center.

C. Therapy Animals

  • Sections 4.A of this policy, concerning domestic animals on campus, also apply to instances of Therapy Animals on campus.
  • A therapy animal trained for Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) may be brought into appropriate university facilities to work with its responsible party to provide service in conjunction with a university-approved program in one or more therapeutic settings, provided that the responsible party:
    • Provides documentation of the training for the therapy animal as demonstrated by attainment of the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) title through the American Kennel Club (AKC) or registration with a therapy animal organization.
    • Provides documentation showing that the responsible party has obtained and maintains liability insurance coverage protecting the University from claims arising out of the presence and utilization of the therapy animal and has obtained approval for the presence and use of the therapy animal from appropriate University officials.
  • A therapy animal is not permitted in campus facilities other than those in which the therapy animal will be utilized.
  • For information about scheduling a therapy animal event, please contact the Division of Student Affairs.

D. Emotional Support / Assistance Animals

  • Sections 4.A of this policy, concerning domestic animals on campus, also apply to emotional support animals on campus.
  • An emotional support animal is permitted on campus grounds and can accompany an individual into his or her University assigned residence; in accordance with U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development regulations.
  • Assistance animals are welcome for an individual with a disability as a housing accommodation, but are not allowed broadly on campus nor allowed to attend classes, meetings or other events with the individual with the disability.
  • For additional information please contact the  Disability Resource Center.

E. Feral / Wild Animals

  • Feral or wild animals on campus grounds will be undisturbed if they do not:
    • Pose a direct threat to the campus population,
    • Damage campus property,
    • Create a public nuisance, or
    • Require human intervention.
  • Prohibited human interventions include, but are not limited to, harassment, feeding, building of shelters, and injection of medication.
  • Wild or feral animals that do present a risk to the campus environment will be regulated, controlled, and humanely handled in accordance with all applicable laws and ordinances.
    • Building representatives and facility managers should contact the NIU Police Department for assistance in mitigating risks associated with wild or feral animals. The NIU Police Department may consult with Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S), the Grounds Department or local Animal Control for further assistance dependent upon the type of response needed.
    • In the case of non-emergency circumstances and routine or prolonged nuisance wildlife management, such as with geese, that do not constitute research or teaching, a licensed veterinarian and relevant governmental institutions may be consulted to review the proposed actions prior to their implementation. These procedures will be reviewed annually thereafter.
  • Individuals from campus or the community may raise concerns regarding nuisance wildlife management by contacting the Physical Plant Work Order Desk. The work order request can be found at the Physical Plant website.

F. Official University Mascots

  • Sections 4.A of this policy, concerning Domestic Animals on campus, also apply to Official University mascots on campus.
  • Official University mascots are the only animal(s) allowed to participate in official University events.
  • Official University mascots must be privately owned with terms of use governed by a formal contract between NIU and the private owner that abides by all federal and state laws and local ordinances, including the Animal Welfare Act regulations and Humane Care for Animals Act, regarding transportation, housing, care and welfare of the animal.
  • University mascots, including visiting team mascots, must not be housed on NIU property for periods longer than twelve (12) hours without prior approval from the Athletics Department.

G. Animals at Outdoor Athletic Events / Recreation Sports Complex

  • Animals at the Outdoor Recreation Sports Complex Center, other than trained service animals are not permitted within the facility.
  • Sections 4.A of this policy, concerning Domestic Animals on campus, also apply to dogs at outdoor athletic events on campus.
  • Dogs are allowed only in identified areas (“Dog Area”) of softball, baseball and soccer/track facilities except properly identified service animals accompanying disabled individuals.
  • A maximum of two smaller dogs (less than 20 pounds each) or one medium to larger dog (more than 20 pounds) per owner is allowed.
  • All dogs must be attended to and restrained at all times.  Dogs must be in the immediate vicinity of an owner, and either on a leash of eight (8) feet or shorter or in a cage.  A dog may not be left fastened to a stationary object.
  • All children in the Dog Area must be at least ten (10) years of age, and must be supervised by an adult.
  • Aggressive (towards other animals or people) or excessively noisy (constant barking) dogs will be asked to leave the Dog Area.
  • Any dog that bites another animal or person will be reported to DeKalb County Animal Control and the NIU Police Department.
  • Dogs must have current licenses, city tags and required vaccinations.  Tags shall be displayed on the dogs’ collars.
  • For softball and baseball, the Dog Areas will be entered from a designated gate separate from the main entrance.  For soccer/track, the main gate in the northwest corner of the facility will be used for all spectators and dogs. However, those with dogs will be directed immediately to the Dog Area and should remain in the Dog Area unless exiting the facility.
  • All Dog Areas will be equipped with trash cans and dog bag dispensers.  It is the owner’s responsibility to pick up their dog’s waste and dispose of it properly.  Failure to properly dispose of waste will result in the owner being asked to remove the dog from the venue.
  • If a problem arises, NIU staff are to have no interaction with dogs, but are to contact the NIU Police Department.
  • The dog owner assumes all financial responsibility for any damages to property or injury to individuals or other dogs caused by their dog(s).
  • For additional information please contact Athletics.

H. Police Animals

  • The NIU Police Department has the sole authority to approve use of animals on campus for law enforcement purposes.
  • For more information on NIU’s law enforcement animals, which are regularly on campus, please visit the K-9 unit.

I. Research and Testing Animals

  • Research and Testing Animals are overseen by the Office of Research Compliance, Integrity, and Safety (ORCIS), along with specific faculty and staff members utilizing animal research.
  • No animals, other than research and testing animals, are allowed in any animal research and testing area.
  • NIU has the responsibility to maintain the highest possible quality research and to provide for the humane care and treatment of animals used in teaching, testing, and research projects conducted at this institution, or under the direction of any employee or agent of this institution, regardless of the source of funding.
  • In accordance with Public Health Service (PHS) regulations, NIU has established an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), whose members are appointed by the Vice President for Research and Innovation Partnerships or designee to review all teaching, testing, and research involving animal subjects, and to set forth institutional policy regarding such activities.
  • All activities involving the use of animals conducted by NIU faculty, staff, and/or students, or sponsored in part or in whole by NIU must be reviewed and approved by the IACUC and/or its agents. This includes teaching activities and research conducted in conjunction with a student dissertation or thesis.
  • NIU is guided by the ethical principles regarding the humane treatment of animals used in research as set forth in the Animal Welfare Act.
  • The IACUC encourages and promotes constructive communication among the research administrators, department chairs/directors of graduate studies, research investigators, and institutional officials, in order to maintain a high level of awareness regarding the safeguarding of the welfare of animal subjects.
  • Correspondence concerning animal research and requests for additional information should be directed to the IACUC, in care of the Director of ORCIS.
  • For further information, please view the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee policy.


  • Any actions taken against animal welfare on an NIU campus will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
  • Any animal abuse by NIU faculty or staff will not be tolerated and will result in additional discipline up to and including termination.
  • All members of the campus community share the responsibility of implementing all aspects of this policy. To report the presence of an animal in violation of this policy, call the NIU Police Department at 815-753-1212 or local animal control.
  • Any owner who brings an animal onto campus in violation of this policy will be required to remove the animal from campus immediately. Any owner who feeds or attracts animals on campus in violation of this policy may be subject to disciplinary action in accordance with the disciplinary policy applicable to the person’s status as a student or employee. Those who are not students or employees may be removed from the campus.
  • Any owner who allows an animal to stray or be unattended may have such animal impounded by the NIU Police Department and turned over to the local animal control.


Office of Research Compliance, Integrity and Safety
Division of Research and Innovative Partnerships

DeKalb County Animal Control
2550 N. Annie Glidden Rd.
DeKalb, IL 60115

Winnebago County Animal Control
4514 N. Main St.
Rockford, IL 61103

Hoffman Estates Police Department Animal Control
411 W. Higgins Road
Hoffman Estates, IL 60169

Naperville Police Department Animal Control
1340 Aurora Ave.
Naperville, IL 60540

Environmental Health & Safety
Division of Administration and Finance

Housing and Residential Services
Division of Student Affairs

Disability Resource Center
Division of Student Affairs

Department of Police and Public Safety
Non-emergencies: 815-753-1212
Emergencies: 911

Physical Plant Work Request Office
Division of Administration and Finance

Americans with Disabilities Act Coordinator
Affirmative Action and Equity Compliance
Human Resource Services

Athletic Facilities Operations
Athletic Department

Transportation Department
Facilities Management


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