Arriving With a Service Animal

Patient with service dog

Patient safety is our first priority. Please follow our simple rules when you bring your service animal to our facilities.

For more information, download our Service Animal FAQ PDF (Spanish version).

What is a service animal?

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a service animal is defined as an animal that has been specifically trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. The task(s) performed by the animal must be directly related to the person’s disability.

Are emotional support, therapy, comfort, or companion animals considered service animals under the ADA?

No. These terms are used to describe animals that provide comfort just by being with a person. If the animal has NOT been trained to perform a specific job or task, it does NOT qualify as a service animal under the ADA. If the emotional support animal HAS been trained to perform a task related to the person’s disability, that animal WOULD qualify as a service animal.

 Please note that there are some limited cases where an animal that is not considered a service animal may visit a hospitalized patient. These cases must be approved in advance by hospital leadership, please speak with your care team for details.

Can I bring my service animal to my appointment, emergency department, or inpatient stay?

Johns Hopkins welcomes your service animal during your visit to any of our facilities. We encourage you to talk with staff about any questions you may have.

Your service animal must be:

  • Healthy, clean and groomed (no fleas, ticks, or sores)
  • House broken
  • Under your control (leash, harness, or other effective controls)
  • Well behaved (no uncontrolled barking, biting, or scratching)

Does my service animal need to be vaccinated?

Your service animal must be vaccinated (shots) as required by local, county and state requirements. Staff may require you to show proof of vaccinations for your service animal as required by local law.

Do I need to keep the service animal on a leash?

Service animals should be controlled with leashes, harness or tether. If you are not able to hold a leash, or if the leash would prevent the animal from performing its task, the service animal must be under your control through voice or hand commands at all times. Please tell anyone who approaches your service animal that they are interfering with your service animals ability to do their job.

What should I bring with me for my service animal?

  • Food, water and medicine needed by your service animal
  • Leash, harness or tether
  • Plastic bags for solid waste

What questions will the staff ask me about my service animal?

The staff may ask what work or task has the animal been trained to perform to help you.

Who is responsible for the care of my service animal during my visit/stay?

You or your designee are responsible for feeding, toileting, and watching over the service animal. Johns Hopkins is not responsible to watch over or otherwise care for the service animal.

For the safety of your service animal, we will ask you for the name of a person to contact in case you are not able to communicate. Make sure to let the staff know about any of your arrangements to take care of the service animal if you cannot take care of the animal. We will also ask for a source of payment in case your service animal needs care or housing.

Visiting or living in a healthcare facility likely increases the risk of the service animal acquiring an infection. The healthcare facility is not responsible for costs related to an acquired infection.

Are there locations where my service animal is not allowed?

Service animals are not allowed in areas where they are at risk to patients or themselves. These areas include but are not limited to:

  • Operating/procedure rooms
  • Burn units
  • MRI machines

You can go in public and most patient care areas with your service animal.

Is there a pet relief area for my service animal?

Please ask the staff for the nearest dog walking area. You are responsible to pick up solid waste in a plastic bag and throw it away in an outside trash can.

What happens if my service animal becomes a threat to others, bites or scratches someone at the facility?

You may be asked to remove your service animal from the facility if you cannot control them. If your service animal bites or scratches another person we will follow local and state reporting requirements.