Are Service Dogs Allowed In Hospitals?

The law can be difficult to navigate, and it can be tough to discern what is and what is not allowed. So, what about service dogs? Are they allowed to accompany their handler into the hospital?

Well, the simplest way to put it is like this. A service dog is allowed to accompany their owner in any public area that is non-sterile.

This means that service dogs are not technically allowed to accompany their owner into certain areas in hospitals.

But we need to take a more in-depth look at this question because as always there are exceptions to the rule. 

So, without further ado, let us get started!

Are Service Dogs Allowed In Hospitals?

Let’s Cover The Basics

There are some areas in hospitals where service dogs are allowed. Doctor’s offices, patient rooms, and other areas in hospitals that do not pose a threat to the life and health of others that are in that facility.

In essence, service dogs will be allowed in areas that do not hinder operations or negatively impact or endanger the health of others and in areas that do not impede other services. 

The federal law states that: 

“Individuals with disabilities shall be permitted to be accompanied by their service animals in all areas of a place of public accommodation where members of the public, program participants, clients, customers, patrons, or invitees, as relevant, are allowed to go.”

There is much more information on this topic. So, if you are interested in taking a deeper look into the law and the United States Code of Federal Regulations.

You could check out the ADA as well if you are interested in a more in-depth look at what the rules are regarding service dogs being allowed to enter hospitals.  

What Are The Issues With Service Dogs In A Hospital Setting?

One of the main issues with having a service dog in a hospital is when its owner cannot care for them. This means that if the owner has fallen ill and requires medical attention in the hospital that the service dog is not allowed to be there.

This is because the dog is likely to get in the way of the doctors, nurses, and equipment which will in turn hinder the life of the dog’s owner. 

The federal law requires that the owner of a service dog must at all times be in control of their animal. This means that if the owner is unable to move effectively they will not be able to control or care for their service dog.

This means that this is an issue according to federal law. 

Another important thing to consider is that hospitals are very sterile environments that work extremely hard to keep their environment clean, sterile, and bacteria-free.

Service dogs are not disease-free and have caused some cases of MRSA which have spread throughout hospitals and afflicted many patients. 

Federal law stated that even if there are certain health codes in place a service dog is allowed even where pets are not. This does not mean that they are allowed to go anywhere and everywhere.

This is because service dogs must not hinder the operation of any institution.

So a service dog must not be in a place that would violate standards that have been put in place for the safety of staff or patients.

Especially when they are medically necessary. 

What Are The Rights Of A Service Dog In Hospitals?

So, what are the rights of a service dog in a hospital? A service dog can enter any area that visitors are allowed without specific precautions.

This means that they are allowed in patient rooms, gift shop areas, cafeterias, certain labs, and any other area that is considered appropriate for the public to enter. 

However, service dogs or the public are not allowed in areas like maternity wards, ICU burns units, or anywhere that requires people to wear masks, and other safety equipment for the sake of medical precautions. 

What Are The Rights Of A Service Dog In Hospitals?

Before You Bring Your Service Dog To A Hospital

Before you can go ahead and bring your service dog into a hospital you should take a moment to consider some of the following: 

  • Will you have the physical capability and health to be able to take care of your service dog? If you think that you are not going to be well enough during your stay at the hospital to do so it is recommended that you speak to someone you trust and arrange for them to care for your animal. 
  • Will your service dog be safe? If you are entering a hospital it is likely that you will encounter diseases, harmful substances, or bacteria that could affect their health. On top of that, the strange environment and distance from you may cause them to not cope well with the situation. 
  • Will the people around you be safe? If for any reason you are not sure if the presence of your dog will cause those around you harm you should leave and find someone to care for them while you are away. 
  • Consider their training. You will need to be exceptionally honest with yourself, is your dog trained well enough to cope with high-stress environments, and do they have the skills to navigate through a unique and strange place without hindering anyone? 

Final Thoughts

We hope that you have enjoyed reading our article on whether service dogs are allowed in hospitals. This is an interesting question which we hope has been answered well.

The answer to this question is super simple. Your service dog is allowed in public areas of a hospital and the owner must be in complete control of the dog at all times.

So as long as you keep that in mind you should be alright. But to be safe, make sure to read the federal law on this topic so that you are as prepared as you possibly can be. 

Anna Granger
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