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Service animal guidelines


St. Jude is committed to meeting the needs of people who require help from a service animal. If you or your child uses a service animal, 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 animals 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 animal?

The Americans with Disabilities Act, also called the ADA, defines a service animal 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 other mental disability.

The ADA also says that the work or tasks performed by the service animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability. This definition means that:

  • Only dogs can be service animals,
  • Your dog must be trained to do specific tasks for you or your child, and
  • You or your child must need this help for a specific disability.

What animals are not service animals?

  • A dog used for emotional support
  • Amphibians, such as frogs
  • Rodents, such as hamsters and mice
  • Cats
  • Monkeys and related animals
  • Birds
  • Reptiles
  • Rabbits
  • Pigs

Where can my service animal go at St. Jude?

Your service animal may be in any St. Jude area where the general public is allowed. This includes the Patient Care Center and cafeteria dining area. Your service animal must always be on a leash or harness or in a crate. While you are sitting at a cafeteria table, it must be under the table. You must supervise and control your service animal at all times.

Where can my service animal not go?

  • A clean patient room that is 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.
  • Rooms with mechanical equipment.
  • Closets with cleaning supplies.
  • Areas where food is prepared.
  • Areas that are dangerous for the animal.

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

What are my responsibilities as a service animal handler?

Keeping your service animal clean, healthy, and safe.

To do this, you must do the following:

  • Keep veterinary records that show your service animal is healthy and has all current shots. These include shots to prevent rabies, bordetella, DHLPPv, canine distemper, hepatitis – CAV-1, leptospirosis, parainfluenza, Adenovirus-cAVO-2, and parvovirus. If you are not sure your service animal has all these shots, check with your veterinarian.
  • Make sure your service animal is bathed and brushed every week. Make sure your service animal has no fever, stomach flu, fleas, ticks, skin sores, or parasites such as worms. Your service animal must take medication to prevent fleas, ticks, and heartworm while at St. Jude and in St. Jude housing.

Making sure your service animal does not affect the health, safety, or comfort of St. Jude patients, families, employees, or visitors.

To do this, you must do the following:

  • Make sure your service animal is housebroken.
  • Always supervise and control your service animal, regardless of where you are. Have your service animal on a leash or harness, or in a crate, at all times at St. Jude.
  • Make sure your service animal does not bark or otherwise disrupt patient care or cause a disturbance in public areas, patient care areas, or St. Jude housing.
  • Not allow other patients, families, employees, or visitors to pet or play with your service animal.
  • Keep your service animal off beds or furniture at St. Jude, including beds and furniture at housing.
  • Follow safety and hand washing precautions to help protect St. Jude patients.
  • Avoid injury to your service animal or others.

Caring for your service animal at all times.

This includes walking, feeding, giving water, making sure your animal relieves itself when it needs to, and cleaning up any accidents. St. Jude staff members are not allowed to supervise, walk, give food or water to, or clean up after your service animal.

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

If you need an animal sitter, you are responsible for arranging the sitter and paying for the service.

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

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

What if my service animal has an accident inside?

If your service animal accidentally relives itself inside, you are responsible for cleaning up the area. Ask for protective gloves and cleaner from Environmental Services and dispose of the waste according to directions from the Environmental Services staff member.

When would staff members tell me that I must remove my service animal from an area?

  • When someone in the area is allergic to your service animal or afraid of it.
  • When the animal is out of control and you do not control it effectively.
  • When the animal is a direct threat to other people’s health or safety.


If you have questions about your service animal, please ask to speak with a nursing coordinator or your child’s social worker.


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).