Are Service Dogs Allowed in Hospitals? 5 Heartwarming Truths

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are service dogs allowed in hospitals

If you’re wondering, “Are service dogs allowed in hospitals?” Then you’ve come to the right place. The short answer is, generally, yes they are. But we will take a deeper dive into the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) laws regarding this situation and hopefully answer any questions you may have.

  1. Are Service Dogs Allowed in Hospitals?
  2. Taking Care of the Service Dog
  3. Where Service Animals May Be Excluded
  4. Service Dogs in Ambulances
  5. No Pets Policies
are golden retriever service dogs allowed in hospitals

1. Are Service Dogs Allowed in Hospitals?

are service dogs allowed in hospitals

The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) governs the use of service dogs in the US and protects the people who use them. Generally, service dogs are indeed allowed in hospitals, and that includes in patient rooms.

In addition, service dogs can generally go anywhere in a hospital that members of the public and hospital patients are allowed to go, such as the cafeteria, blood lab, and the ER.

Service dogs cannot be excluded from a hospital based on the idea that the hospital staff can take over taking care of the patient, or provide the person with the services that the dog would maybe provide.

Remember that emotional support dogs are not service dogs. So emotional support dogs may be excluded from a hospital.

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2. Taking Care of the Service Dog

taking care of service dog while you're in the hospital

Naturally, someone who is admitted into a hospital may not be able to properly care for their service dog or service animal. If this happens, there are a few options that can be considered:

  • The patient can try to make arrangements for a friend or family member to visit the hospital and help take care of the dog such as feeding, bathroom breaks, exercise, etc. This is the best option, because it’s best not to separate someone from their service dog if at all possible
  • If that is not possible, perhaps a friend or family member can take the dog and dog-sit at their own home
  • If the patient is unable to have someone come and either help take care of the dog, or take the dog-sit the dog, then the hospital may need to arrange to have the dog placed into a boarding facility or another appropriate arrangement
  • Hospital staff must give the patient a chance to make their own arrangements before simply placing the service dog into a boarding facility or another arrangement like that

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3. Where Service Animals May be Excluded

There are a few instances where service dogs can be excluded from a hospital environment, based on the ADA’s requirement that service animals can be excluded if their presence would jeopardize the safe operation of the public accommodation.

Considering this, service dogs may be excluded from:

  • Hospital sterile environments like operating rooms and burn units

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4. Service Dogs in Ambulances

service dog in ambulances

Generally, service dogs are allowed in ambulances. But, if the space in the ambulances is limited, and if by having the service dog there, it would interfere with the staff’s job, then the dog can be excluded.

If this happens, the staff should make some kind of arrangements to have the service dog transported to the hospital to meet with their human there. Separating someone from their service dog should be done only if absolutely necessary, and for a short of a time period as possible.

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5. No Pets Policies

Service dogs are not pets, they are highly trained working animals. A business that has a “no pets” policy must permit people with service dogs.

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By Sam Amy Nelson

Sam Amy Nelson (she/her) is an advocate for people with disabilities and mental health.

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