Service Animals and Transportation Services

GW is committed to providing reasonable accommodations in compliance with federal laws and university policies and recognizes the importance of service and assistance animals to individuals with disabilities. 

With few exception, service animals are allowed in areas where members of the public and members of the university community are allowed to go, including shuttles and GW Safe Ride vehicles.  In the District of Columbia, a service animal in training must be provided the same access as a service animal.  However, assistance animals are not permitted on shuttles and GW Safe Ride vehicles.

Service Animals and Assistance Animals

A service animal is any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform a task for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.  Service animals are working animals, not pets. Examples of the work or tasks that service animals perform include: guiding individuals who are blind, alerting individuals who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with a mental illness to take prescribed medication, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties.

Emotional, support or comfort animals, also known as assistance or therapy animals, may include dogs as well as species other than dogs that provide emotional support to individuals with disabilities.  They are not trained to perform specific tasks to assist an individual with activities of daily living or to accompany them at all times.  Assistance animals are permitted in university housing as a reasonable accommodation when they have been approved by DSS, but are not permitted in other areas of campus or on shuttles or GW Safe Ride vehicles.  

Contact DSS for more information about service animals or assistance animals.  In addition, Assistance Animal Guidelines for students living in university housing can be found at

Boarding the Shuttle or GW Safe Ride

It may not be apparent that a dog is a service animal; however, the Shuttle Supervisor and GW Safe Ride Supervisor can ask only two questions when a service animal is about to board. 

  1. Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
  2. What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?
  • Supervisors should not ask about the person’s disability, require or ask to see medical documentation, require or ask to see a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task. 
  • Service Animals must be under control, which means that they must be harnessed, leashed or tethered unless these devices interfere with the service animal’s work. In such cases, the individual must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal or other effective controls.   
  • An individual with a disability cannot be asked to remove the service animal from a vehicle, unless the dog is out of control, the dog is not housebroken, or the dog poses a direct threat to the health or safety of its owner or others.  When there's a legitimate reason to ask that a service animal be removed, staff must offer the person with disability the opportunity to obtain transportation services without the animal's presence.
  • If concerns about allergies or phobias are expressed by other riders, the individual with the service animal should not be denied transportation services.   Efforts should be made to accommodate both the individual with the service animal and the individual with the
  • allergy or phobia, on a case-by-case basis. 

In an Emergency

If a service animal becomes aggressive, if others become aggressive towards the service animal, or if the service animal causes injury to others, call GWPD at 202-994-6110.