Skip to main content


Service animal guidelines


St. Jude is committed to meeting the needs of people who require help from a service dog. If you or your child has a service dog, the Americans with Disabilities Act protects your rights.

At the same time, St. Jude must protect all patients from germs that can cause infection and from substances that can cause allergic reactions (allergens). The information below lists guidelines for service dogs that accompany patients or family members at St. Jude. Please follow these guidelines to keep all patients safe from infection, allergies, and other risks.

What is a service dog?

The Americans with Disabilities Act, also called the ADA, defines a service dog as:

A dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or mental disability.

The ADA also says that the work or tasks performed by the service dog must be directly related to the individual’s disability. The person who has a service dog must have a disability the ADA considers a disability.

What this definition means

  • Only dogs are considered service animals.
  • A service dog is trained for a person with a disability, and it has been trained specifically for that one person. 
  • A service dog is trained to do specific tasks for a person with a disability and cannot be just a general-purpose assistance dog.
  • You or your child must need this help for a specific disability.

What animals are not service dogs? 

  • Therapy and comfort dogs
  • Emotional support dogs  
  • Facility dogs
  • Pets

Should I call before bringing my service dog to St. Jude?

This is not required, but it would be helpful. You can call 901-595-3300 and ask for the nursing house supervisor. The nursing house supervisor evaluates service dogs that come to St. Jude. By calling ahead, you might help speed up this process. If you are already in the hospital and are considering bringing a service dog in, ask a staff member to call the nursing house supervisor.

What are my responsibilities as a service dog handler?

  • Under the ADA, you are required to supervise and control your service dog at all times. Service dogs must be leashed, harnessed, or crated. If these devices interfere with the service dog's work or the handler's disability makes it impossible to use them, the handler must maintain control of the service dog through voice, signal, or other controls.
  • Keep your service dog clean, healthy, and safe while at St. Jude and in St. Jude housing.
    • Your service dog must be on medicine to prevent fleas, ticks, and heartworms.
      Your service dog must not have fever, stomach flu, fleas, ticks, skin sores, or parasites such as worms.
    • Bathe and brush your service dog to ensure cleanliness.
  • Make sure your service dog does not affect the health, safety, or comfort of St. Jude patients, families, employees, or visitors.
    • Your service dog must be housebroken.
    • Carry dog waste bags at all times to clean up after your service dog.
    • You must supervise and control your service dog, regardless of where you are.
    • Your service dog may not bark a lot or otherwise disrupt patient care or disturb those in public areas, patient care areas, or St. Jude housing.
    • Do not allow other patients, families, employees, or visitors to pet or play with your service dog.
    • Follow safety and hand washing precautions to help protect St. Jude patients.
    • Avoid injury to your service dog and other people and dogs on campus.
  • Care for your service dog at all times. This includes:
    • Walking;
    • Feeding;
    • Giving water;
    • Making sure your service dog relieves itself outside when it needs to; and
    • Cleaning up accidents.

St. Jude visitors or staff members are not allowed to supervise, walk, give food or water to, or clean up after your service dog.

What happens if I cannot be with my service dog for some reason?

If you need a sitter or kennel, you are responsible for arranging and paying for the service.

How should I handle my service dog’s need to relieve itself?  

Your service dog must relieve itself (urinate and pass feces) outside St. Jude buildings, along the fence around the edge of campus. You must pick up and, if needed, clean up after your service dog and put its waste in an outside trash can. 

What if my service dog has an accident inside?

If your service dog accidentally relieves itself inside a St. Jude building, you are responsible for cleaning up the area. Ask for protective gloves and cleaner from Environmental Services. Dispose of the cleaning material waste according to directions from the Environmental Services staff member.

Where can my service dog go at St. Jude?

Your service dog may be in any St. Jude area where the general public is allowed. This includes the Patient Care Center and cafeteria dining area. While you are sitting at a cafeteria table, the dog must be under the table.

If you want to take a service dog into an inpatient area or the intensive care unit (ICU), you will need permission from the Infection Control department.

Where can my service dog not go?

  • A clean patient room not assigned to you or your child
  • Another patient’s room
  • Areas where clean or sterile linens or supplies are stored
  • Rooms used for surgery and other medical procedures, including rooms used before and after surgery
  • Areas that are dangerous for the dog

If you must go to an area of the hospital where your service dog is not allowed, St. Jude will make another room available for your service dog. If you cannot stay with your animal in these situations, you will need to contact a local sitter to stay with the dog.

When would staff members tell me I must remove my service dog from an area or from the St. Jude campus?

A service dog will be removed from the St. Jude campus at the complete discretion of the St. Jude staff. They can remove the dog if:

  • It displays any behaviors or noises that are unduly disruptive to others,
  • It poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others, or
  • It fails to remain under its handler’s control.


If you have questions about the St. Jude Service Animal Guidelines, please ask to speak with a nursing house supervisor.



This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.

St. Jude complies with health care-related federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.

ATTENTION: If you speak another language, assistance services, free of charge, are available to you. Call 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040).

ATENCIÓN: si habla español, tiene a su disposición servicios gratuitos de asistencia lingüística. Llame al 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040).

تنبيه: إذا كنت تتحدث باللغة العربية فيمكنك الاستعانة بخدمات المساعدة اللغوية المتوفرة لك مجانا. .يرجى الاتصال بالرقم. 5833-278-866-1  (الهاتف النصي: 1040-595-901-1).