Service Dog & Pet Policy

Although we love our four-legged family members, we no longer can permit animals to accompany patient visits unless they are considered to be a “Service Dog” or serves as a "Psychiatric" Service Dog.” Unfortunately, this does not include comfort dogs.

Our new office building has a strict policy regarding this issue and we must be respectful of our other patients, some of who have allergies, are receiving certain treatments, or have other issues with dogs in the office.

For purposes of information, below please find the differences between the various categories of these animals.

Service Dog Defined

A “service dog,” under California law, is a dog trained to help a specific individual with a disability with services such as fetching dropped items, minimal protection work, rescue work, or pulling a wheelchair. There are two important things to note about the California’s definition of service dogs. It is limited to dogs.

It is further limited to dogs that are trained to help individuals with their specific requirements. So, no animal other than a dog can qualify as a service animal, even if that animal is trained to assist a person with a disability. Furthermore, even a dog will not qualify as a service dog if it is not individually trained to help an individual with a disability (in a way that is related to his or her disability).

“Psychiatric” Service Dog Defined

California doesn’t have a separate definition for “psychiatric service dog,” but a dog that is individually trained to help a person with a mental disability with specific requirements is considered a service dog, and an individual that uses such a dog is entitled to the same rights under the law as someone with a physical disability that uses a service dog.

Examples of work or tasks that a service dog can be trained to perform for someone with a mental disability include:

  • waking someone with clinical depression and coaxing them out of bed at a specified time in the morning;
  • responding to an owner’s panic attack by initiating contact to comfort the individual, and
  • alerting a person exercising poor judgment due to bipolar disorder that they are driving dangerously.

Emotional Support Animal Defined

An “emotional support animal” is a dog or other animal that is not trained to perform specific acts directly related to an individual’s disability. Instead, the animal’s owner derives a sense of well-being, safety, or calm from the animal’s companionship and presence.


You may be asked the following questions to determine if that individual’s dog is a service dog:

  • whether the dog is required because of a disability, and
  • what work the dog is trained to perform.

Thank you for your understanding of this policy.