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Administrative (Non-Clinical) Policy
This administrative policy applies to the operations and staff of the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and
Clinics Authority as integrated effective July 1, 2015, including the legacy operations and staff of
University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics and University of Wisconsin Medical Foundation.
Policy Title: UW Health Service Animals/Animal Assisted Activities/Pet
Policy Number: 1.50
Effective Date: January 1, 2016
This policy is to provide guidance for UW Health staff, including all inpatient and outpatient settings,
regarding the presence of patients’ and visitors’ service animals (dogs/miniature horses and other
animals), dogs involved with UW Health-sponsored animal assisted-activities (Pet Pals and Dogs on
Call), and personal pets (dogs and cats only) visiting inpatients. As part of the UW Health commitment to
patient-and family-centered care, we recognize the important role of animals in the health and well-being
A. Service animals are defined as dogs/miniature horses and other animals individually trained
to work or perform tasks for people with disabilities, as defined by the Americans with
Disabilities Act (ADA) and Wisconsin law. Service animals work or perform tasks directly
related to a person’s disability. Animals whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional
support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.
B. Assisted-activities animals are animals involved in UW Health sponsored programs, such as Pet
Pals and Dogs on Call, and have been vetted and/or registered to participate in those programs.
C. Personal pets (dogs and cats only) are animals kept for companionship
D. Handlers or partners are the adults responsible for the animal while on UW Health premises.
A. Service Animals
1. If an animal is not involved in a UW Health sponsored program, UW Health staff should
first determine whether the animal is a service animal or personal pet. To determine if an
animal is a service animal, staff may only ask the partner two questions:
a. Is this service animal required because of a disability?
b. What work or task has this animal been trained to perform?
2. If the animal does not meet the criteria for service animal, the handler should
immediately remove the animal from the premises, unless it has been approved to visit an
inpatient under the circumstances identified in this policy.
3. A service animal is not required to wear a vest, nor must the partner provide proof of
certification the animal is a service animal. If UW Health staff have any questions, they
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should contact the Patient Relations Department, or during off-hours, the administrator
4. A service animal may accompany a patient or visitor with a disability anywhere on UW
Health premises where patients or visitors are permitted, provided that no special
precautions are required in those areas (e.g., gowning, scrubbing). The handler can be
asked to remove the service animal from an area when (a) all non-essential persons must
be removed in order to provide emergency or other care to the patient, or (b) the presence
of the animal is interfering with the care of the patient. If UW Health staff have concerns
that an area of UW Health premises is not safe for service animals, they should contact
the Patient Relations Department, or during off-hours, the administrator on call.
5. Many inpatients are too ill to benefit from their service animals or to be able to fulfill the
functions required for the care of their service animals. In these cases, patients should
find other accommodations for their service animals while they are in the hospital. If
patients request to have their service animals remain with them during their stay, please
contact the Patient Relations Department, or during off-hours, the administrator-on-call.
6. While a service animal is on UW Health premises, staff should comply with the
a. Allow a service animal to accompany the partner at all times and everywhere on
UW Health premises except where service animals are specifically prohibited as
b. Do not pet a service animal.
c. Do not feed a service animal.
d. Do not deliberately startle a service animal.
e. Do not separate or attempt to separate a partner from her or his service animal,
without the partner’s express permission, or as necessitated by situations
identified in this policy.
7. All service animals must meet the requirements of this Section, Section IV and Section
B. Personal Pets (inpatient only)
1. UW hospitals unit leader will grant permission for one personal pet at a time to visit a
patient on a case-by-case basis, after consideration of the following factors. A personal
pet may visit an inpatient if:
a. The patient has stayed in the hospital 21 consecutive days or longer and/or the
patient may not survive the hospitalization, or other extenuating circumstances
b. The attending physician requests/approves the visit and documents the approval
in Health Link;
c. The parties have considered how the personal pet is likely to react to the
environment where the visit will occur, and proper precautions have been taken;
d. The animal meets all of the criteria in Section IV of this policy: and
e. The owner and handler have each received a Health Facts For You "Personal Pets
in the Hospital Request" form (UWH#301571-DT), signed it and submitted to
the unit staff for scanning into the medical record.
2. Unit leadership will notify the Patient Relations and Security Departments about rare
instances where personal pet visits are approved.
3. If a visit is approved, unit leadership and the patient should determine a mutually
agreeable time, date and location for the visit that will minimize the interactions with
other patients. A patient may visit with one personal pet at a time in the clinic lobby in
the evenings or on weekends. In rare instances, a personal pet may visit a patient in his or
her room. The visit should be limited to no more than two hours.
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4. It is a privilege and not a right for patients to bring a personal pet into a UW hospital. All
personal pets must meet the requirements of this Section, Section IV and Section V. UW
Health may withdraw permission for a personal pet to be at a UW hospital at any time.
C. Assisted-Activities Animals
1. Assisted-activities animals are allowed to visit inpatient rooms except when isolation
precautions are in effect, in addition to all public areas. Assisted-activities animals must
be accompanied by their handlers at all times. In addition to ensuring that animals are
cleared by their veterinarians, handlers of assisted-activities animals must provide UW
Health with documentation indicating successful completion of the Pet Pals screening
conducted by the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine, registration
with Pet Partners and be a member of Dogs on Call, Inc. to participate in Dogs on Call, or
successful and current registration in another UW Health sponsored program. All
handlers must meet the criteria established by the UW Health Volunteer Department
and/or American Family Children’s Hospital (AFCH) Child Life. This information will
be kept on file in the Volunteer Department.
2. All assisted-activities animals must meet the requirements of this Section, Section IV and
IV. REQUIREMENTS FOR ALL ANIMALS ON UW HEALTH PREMISES
A. All animals subject to this policy must meet the following requirements:
1. All dogs and cats must be current on their rabies vaccine and wear their rabies vaccine
2. All dogs must be licensed, as required under Wisconsin law, and wear their license tags.
3. Owners/handlers of any animals on UW Health premises are responsible for complying
with applicable laws in connection with their animals.
4. Vaccination and health records must be available upon request.
5. All animals must be healthy with no signs of infection such as vomiting, diarrhea,
incontinence, respiratory symptoms, open wounds/sutures, ear infections, skin infections
or sign of estrus in females. Animals under active treatment for any of these conditions
may not visit until one week after resolution of symptoms and completion of antibiotic
treatment, and if requested, by UW Health, a letter of health from a licensed veterinarian.
6. Animals must be clean, well groomed, and free of parasites. Dogs should be bathed
within 24 hours prior to the visit and free of ticks/fleas. Cats should be groomed with an
anti-allergen product within 24 hours prior to the visit.
7. At all times, animals must be under the full control of the handler. Dogs must be kept on
a short leash (less than six feet and no retractable leads). Small dogs may be transported
in a carrier. Cats must be in a carrier while at a UW hospital, except when with the
patient. Animals must be well behaved, which includes without limitation that the animal
cannot jump, snarl, growl, yip, whimper, bark, or scratch. Animals must be housebroken
and fully socialized. The handler must provide all care for the animal.
B. Animals should be toileted prior to entering UW Health buildings and waste properly
disposed. The animal’s handler should be prepared to immediately clean up any waste and
dispose of feces by flushing in addition to asking staff to notify Environmental Services to
sanitize the area. If a handler has a disability and cannot physically clean up after their own
service animal, the handler should inform staff so that a UW Health staff member can assist.
C. Prior to any animal visit, UW Health should consider the impact on staff and other individuals of
animal allergies, fear and other relevant factors. UW Health will make an effort to accommodate
those individuals as necessary so the presence of the animal does not require a fundamental
alteration in the policies, practices or procedures. Any patient or staff member with an allergy to
animals shall provide verification of the allergy, if requested.
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D. Except as explicitly permitted by this policy, patient's and visitor's animals are not permitted on
UW Health premises.
V. GENERAL GUIDELINES
A. Anyone (patient, visitors, handlers, or staff) touching an animal must practice good hand hygiene,
which requires hand washing and/or hand sanitizer before and after touching an animal.
B. Animals may not be in any area requiring protective gowning, rooms with special air filtration,
food preparation, medication storage areas, any area where the presence of an animal would
jeopardize safe operation of UW Health, and any locations not open to the public. Exceptions
must be cleared by the attending physician, the nurse manager, and Infection Control.
C. If the animal is placed on a patient’s bed, the handler must first lay down a barrier such as a
towel/sheet, which should be removed at the end of the visit.
D. Staff shall not assume any responsibility for animals visiting UW Health.
E. UW Health staff cannot assume responsibility for the care and feeding of animals. Handlers must
have the ability to care for the animals either directly or through arrangements that they have
F. If staff members become aware of an animal not being cared for, they should contact the Patient
Relations or Security Departments. If staff members become aware of a loose animal, they should
contact the Security Department.
G. The animal and its handler will be asked to leave UW Health premises immediately if not in
compliance with any of the criteria identified in Sections IV and V. If the handler is resistant,
please contact Patient Relations or Security for assistance. UW Police and Security should be
called if the animal poses an immediate threat to any person.
H. The adult controlling an animal will be held responsible by UW Health for injuries or damages
resulting from the animal’s behavior, consistent with Wisconsin law.
I. If an animal bites a person, please notify UW Health Patient Relations and Security Departments
immediately. As appropriate, Security will contact the University of Wisconsin Police
Department at 262-2957 to report the animal bite, and to ensure that all involved parties comply
with the rabies observation period required by law.
American with Disabilities Act of 2010
Guidelines for animal-assisted interventions in health care facilities. American Journal Infection Control.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Healthy Pets Healthy People
Centers for Disease control and Prevention. Guidelines for environmental infection control in health-care
facilities: recommendations of CDC and Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee
Wisconsin Statutes Ch. 174, § 95.21
Consent and Waiver Form for Patients Visiting Personal Pets
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Sr. Management Sponsor: VP, Quality and Patient Safety
Author: Director, Patient Relations & Patient/Family Partnerships; Volunteer Manager
Reviewer(s): Director, Safety; Infectious Disease physician; Director, Security; Nursing Coordinator;
Director, Risk Management; UWHC General Counsel
Approval Committee: UW Health Administrative Policy and Procedure Committee
President, University of Wisconsin Hospitals
Chief of Clinical Operations
Previous revision: 032014
Next revision: 012019