Wise Health System follows all applicable laws under Texas law and the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), for the use of service animals for people with disabilities. Service animals may access all public areas of WHS Facilities provided that the animal is on a leash or otherwise restrained. Service animals may not be permitted entry into Restricted Access Areas (See additional information below).
Service Animal Definition
Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability.
Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties.
Dogs or other animals whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do NOT qualify as service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Requirements of Service Animals and Their Partners/Handlers
- Vaccination – The animal must be immunized against disease common to that type of animal. Dogs must have had the general maintenance vaccine series, including vaccinations against, rabies, distemper, and parvovirus. All vaccinations must be current. Dogs must wear a rabies vaccination tag. Verification or proof of the above vaccinations must be provided to Wise Health System.
- Licensing – The animal must comply with local licensing requirements.
- Leash – Under the ADA, the animal must be on a leash, harness or tether at all times, unless either the handler is unable because of a disability to use a harness, leash or other tether; or the use of a harness, leash or tether would interfere with the service animal’s safe, effective performance of work, work or task, in which case the service animal must be otherwise under the handler’s control using voice control, signals, or other effective means.
- Under control of partner/handler – The partner/handler must be in full control of the animal at all times. The care and supervision of a service animal is solely the responsibility of its partner/handler. If a service animal must be separated from the handler to avoid a fundamental alteration or a threat to safety, it is the responsibility of the partner/handler to arrange for the care and supervision of the animal during the period of separation.
- Cleanup Rule – The partner/handler must always carry supplies sufficient to clean up the animals feces whenever the animal and partner are on WHS property and properly dispose of the feces. As a courtesy to patients, visitors, and staff, the service animal will be taken outdoors for toileting by the partner/handler or designated friend or family member, and all solid waste will be picked up in a plastic bag and disposed of in outdoor trash bins. Partner/Handlers with disabilities who physically cannot clean up after their own service animal may not be required to pick up and dispose of the feces.
- Feeding and Other Care – Handler/Partners will provide the service animal with food, water and other necessary care or makes arrangements through others to do the same (excluding staff).
- Proof of Certification – The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) does not allow anyone to ask for proof of training or certification of the Service Animal or inquire into the person’s disability before allowing the Service Animal into non-restricted areas. If it is not immediately clear what service the Service Animal provides, staff may ask two questions:
a) Is the service animal required because of a disability?
b) What work or task has the service animal been trained to perform?
- Service Animal Registry form shall be filled out by a Security Officer and filed in the Security office.
Restricted Access Areas
WHS will generally exclude service animals from areas that meet the following criteria:
a) The area is required to meet environmental infection control measures in order to minimize the risk of disease transmission, such as operating rooms, rooms or units that require special ventilation for high-risk immunocompromised patients, and airborne infection isolation rooms; or
b) Areas where visitors are generally not permitted to enter without taking protective infection control measures (e.g., PPE, paying strict attention to hand hygiene, and being free of dermatologic conditions). Similar infection control measures could be reasonably imposed on service animals and for the protection of the animal (e.g., radiology).
a) Inpatient rooms: A service animal will not be permitted in an inpatient room unless an individualized assessment is made to include a service animal.
b) Service animals will not be allowed to visit patients with open wounds that cannot be covered by a dressing or to visit post-operative patients during the first twenty-four (24) hours following surgery.
When a Service Animal Can Be Required to Leave
WHS may exclude or terminate the visit of any service animal if it displays the following behavior, but is not limited to; vicious, aggressive, or threatening manner toward staff, patients or visitors by unruly behavior such as uncontrolled barking, snapping, biting, baring of teeth, growling, scratching, lack of ability to be controlled, unsanitary behavior (e.g., urinating or defecation within WHS Facilities), presence of signs of infection (e.g., open sores, flea or tick infestation, purulent eye drainage), and other extreme behaviors, all of which are uncharacteristic of service animals.
When there is a legitimate reason to ask that a service animal be removed, staff must offer the person with the disability the opportunity to obtain goods or services without the animal’s presence.
The information provided on this site is a summary of Wise Health System’s Service Animal Policy. For additional information, please view the full policy: