Policy on service animals at Michigan Medicine

October 28, 2021  //  FOUND IN: Updates & Resources

Michigan Medicine is committed to allowing service animals to accompany patients and provide support, helping to ensure equal access to care for everyone in our community. However, there are a few guidelines for patients to follow when bringing a service animal with them to their appointment.

As defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act, service animals are defined as dogs or miniature horses that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Animals whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as ‘service animals’ under the ADA and therefore are not permitted to accompany patients.

In general, service animals are allowed in areas that are open to the public.  However, in cases of imaging exams and procedures using ionizing radiation, magnetic fields, radiofrequency and ultrasound waves, only the patient and imaging center staff who are directly involved with the exam are allowed.  In these instances, service animals must wait in a designated area during the exam itself. 

Michigan Medicine faculty, staff, and learners are not required to provide care for or supervision of a service animal.  A family member or support person may be available to care for the service animal if the patient cannot.

Documentation is not required to identify a service animal. If you are uncertain that an animal is providing vital assistance to an individual, you may ask only the following questions:

  • Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
  • What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

To learn more about Michigan Medicine’s policy on service animals, please watch this video. It has been designed to provide real life examples on how to handle patients with service animals and describes the rights of patients with service animals. You may also download this FAQ sheet to share with colleagues.

If you have any questions or concerns about how to handle service animals or other civil rights issues, please contact the Patient Civil Rights Coordinator at 734-936-6439 or email MichMed_patients_rights@med.umich.edu.