Guidelines for Service Animals at St. Joseph Heritage Healthcare Facilitites

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What is a service animal?

The American Disability Act (ADA) definition of service animal is limited to dogs and miniature horses. A service animal is defined as an animal that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. The task(s) performed by the service animal must be directly related to the person's disability.

What does “do work or perform tasks” mean?

If a Heritage staff member is not certain that a dog is a Service Animal, he or she may ask the animal’s handler/owner to verify, in order for the staff member to complete a form, that the animal is used because of a disability, and what specific work/tasks that the animal has been trained to perform. We understand that pets provide their owners comfort or companionship; however, the American with Disabilities Act expressly states that animals that solely provide emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship are not “service animals” pursuant to the law (see 28 CFR 36.104).

What happens if the staff member does not deem my dog/horse as a “service animal”?

If use of the animal is not due to the handler/owner’s disability, the handler/owner will be asked to remove the animal from the Heritage facility. Once the animal is removed, Heritage staff will assist the animal’s handler/owner with any necessary services without the animal’s presence. If any Service Animal poses a direct threat to health or safety, displays aggressive behavior to the staff or other patients, or acts in a disruptive manner, the Service Animal’s handler/owner will be asked to immediately remove the animal from the Heritage facility. Once the Service Animal is removed, Heritage staff will assist the Service Animal’s handler/owner with any necessary services without the dog’s presence.

Is there anywhere in the facility where my service animal will not be allowed?

Service Animals will not be allowed in certain areas of the Heritage facility if doing so will compromise patient health (for example, procedure rooms that require a sterile environment). If a Service Animal is not allowed into those areas, Heritage staff will assist the animal’s handler/owner with any necessary services without the dog’s presence. Heritage staff are not permitted to handle, monitor, feed or clean up after a Service Animal.

Who is responsible for the care and supervision of a service animal?

The handler/owner must be in full control of their Service Animals at all times and must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered, unless the handler/owner’s disability requires otherwise or those instruments would interfere in the animal’s performance. The care and supervision of a Service Animal is solely the responsibility of its owner/handler. If a Service Animal must be separated from a patient or visitor, it is the responsibility of that person to arrange for the care and supervision of the Service Animal during the period of separation.