Animal Control

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University Policy Number 1402


Responsible Office:

Policy Procedure:

Related Law & Policy:


This policy applies to all faculty, staff, students, volunteers, visitors, guests, and University contractors at all George Mason University owned and leased locations.


Except as provided for in Section VII below, no person shall bring an animal onto campus unless the animal is leashed, caged, or under direct physical control of its owner or other responsible person.


For purposes of this policy, the following definitions apply:

A. “Leashed” is defined as being restrained on a cord, chain, or other similar restraint, not to exceed 8 feet in length, controlled by the owner of the animal or other responsible person.

B. “Caged” is defined as being restrained in an enclosed pen, box, or other similar container controlled by the owner or other responsible person who prevents the animal from escaping.

C. “Direct physical control” means that the owner or other responsible person is physically holding the animal in such a way that it is not likely to escape.


A. The owner or other responsible person who brings an animal on to campus must insure that the animal is vaccinated and/or licensed as required by state and local laws.

B. The owner or person responsible for an animal’s presence on campus shall be responsible for the immediate removal and sanitary disposal of any excrement deposited by the animal. The owner or responsible person shall have on his/her person appropriate means for removal of such excrement when bringing the animal on campus.

C. Except as provided for in Section VII below, animals may not be brought into any campus building or controlled facility. Each administrator, chair, dean and employee is responsible for the administration of this policy and is expected to comply with its provisions.

D. Except as provided for in Section VII below, animals are not allowed to be brought to any public gathering held on campus including, but not limited to, tailgate parties, sporting events, outdoor concerts, demonstrations, exhibits, or fairs.

E. No animal shall be left unattended in any motor vehicle parked on university property.

F. No animal shall be brought onto or permitted on any athletic field.

G. Horses shall not be ridden on any university property that is developed or landscaped.

H. Any animal discovered on university property in violation of these regulations may be impounded and turned over to the appropriate animal control authority.

I. The Director, Office of Risk Management, or designee, shall approve all requests for exception to this policy on a case-by-case basis, including the location and construction of all shelters and feeding stations.

J. Approved feeding stations and shelters shall not be located near any university building and must be approved in advance of placement. Any shelters or feeding stations that have not been approved in accordance with this policy will be removed and disposed of at the time of discovery.


Except as provided for in Section VII, any unsupervised or uncontrolled animal on university property may be trapped or otherwise restrained by Physical Plant employees or members of the University Police Department. Unless the owner can be quickly identified, an animal that is trapped as the result of being unsupervised or uncontrolled will be turned over to the local animal control authorities.


Any dog or cat, for which no proof of current rabies vaccination is available, which has bitten a person on university property and is subsequently trapped shall be turned over to the local animal control authorities where the animal will be maintained under competent observation for ten days, unless the animal develops symptoms of rabies or expires before that time.

Any law-enforcement officer or animal control officer may lawfully seize and impound any animal that has been abandoned on University property, has been cruelly treated, or is suffering to a degree that has rendered the animal in such a condition as to constitute a direct and immediate threat to its life, safety or health.

After consultation with the his/her supervisor, a University Police Officer may destroy an animal that in his/her opinion poses a direct and serious danger to the officer, other individuals or other animals. If the threat is so imminent as to preclude consultation with a supervisor, the officer will act appropriately in response to the perceived level of threat.


A. The President of the University or his designee can make exceptions to this policy for special circumstances and/or events including, but not limited, to reasonable accommodation for a disability, pet shows and circus performances.

B. Section IV, C and Section IV, D of this policy do not apply to service animals as defined by federal and state statutes and regulations. Owners of service animals must comply with the relevant federal and state statutes and regulations.

C. This policy does not apply to animals used by law enforcement or emergency personnel in the exercise of their official duties.

D. This policy does not apply to animals used in academic programs, teaching or research.

E. This policy does not pertain to recognized exempted organizations that care for animals in accordance with the guidance provided in Section IV of this policy. Groups seeking exemption must submit their plans and proposals in writing to the Director, Office of Risk Management for review and approval.


This policy is effective July 1, 2002. This policy shall be reviewed annually and revised if necessary, to become effective at the beginning of the University’s fiscal year, unless otherwise noted.


Maurice W. Scherrens
Senior Vice President

Peter N. Stearns

Date approved: July 24, 2002

Revised: October 20, 2017