Health & Education
Comfort animals are prohibited at Health & Wellness Center
By Danielle Frost
Grand Ronde campus buildings have long had a “no pets” policy.
However, with the recent increase in use of companion and comfort animals by people, the Tribal Health & Wellness Center is clarifying with patients what kind of animals are allowed.
“The clinic has had quite a few people come in with their dogs because it was hot outside or because the animals provided comfort during a medical procedure,” Health Services Executive Director Kelly Rowe says. “One time we had a dog sitting on the couch in the waiting area whose owner said it was a comfort animal. Due to the extensive cleaning required afterward for infection control, we can only allow service animals.”
Signs have been posted at clinic doors to inform patients of the clarification in policy.
“The message is that you cannot bring in your comfort animals anymore,” Rowe says. “It’s a tough call because we recognized the value of comfort animals, but we can’t have them at the clinic.”
The Tribal Health & Wellness Center clarification also falls in line with the campus-wide policy, she added.
According to the Northwest ADA Center, a service animal is one that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. Only dogs and miniature horses are considered service animals.
A comfort or emotional support animal -- one that provides help without performing a specific task or duty -- does not meet the definition of service animal. If it is not individually trained to do work or perform a task, it is considered a pet under the ADA guidelines.
“We want to make sure people understand this before they bring an animal to their medical appointments,” Rowe says. “There are not a lot of people doing this now, but we want the few who do to be aware of the restrictions.”