Companion and Assistant Animals policy Companion and Assistant Animals policy

Companion and Assistant Animals policy

Kenneth Harvey Kenneth Harvey


Companion animals

Access to outpatient healthcare facilities by the personal pets of a patient is generally not appropriate. These animals are often not as well trained, assessed or regulated as dogs registered by an established program of therapeutic support, e.g. pets as therapy. Though they may be well managed by their owners, these dogs may find the healthcare setting an unfamiliar and sometimes overwhelming environment (especially in high noise and activity locations, cleaning chemicals) and behave accordingly.

Therapy animals

Dogs are almost exclusively used in such programs and are accompanied by an appropriately trained handler from a registered provider. These dogs may visit our facility for a specific purpose (such as dedicated patient therapy programs) or accompany a visitor to a patient in a non-clinic area.

  • Evidence must be provided that the animal is registered in a recognised therapy program
  • These animals may only interact with patients in non-clinical areas such as day rooms or outside areas.

Assistance animals

Usually refers to dogs trained by the Guide Dogs Association of NSW or another community organisation specialising in this work such as Assistance Dogs Australia.

A patient will generally not need their assistance dog to accompany them while in treatment. Only in exceptional circumstances should an assistance animal be allowed to accompany a patient while in treatment and this can only be permitted following consultation with Infection Control.

  • Alternative arrangements for support during the treatment period will need to be made for
    the patient
  • Discharge planning should include coordination of access to their assistance animal.

Patients attending consultations may need to have their assistance animal with them. Where possible, provision should be made to support patients with assistance animals. Access is to be on the basis that:

  • All infection control procedures are followed
  • The welfare of the animal is considered along with that of the patient, this includes issues such as providing access to water for the animal in a safe location while the patient is receiving treatment.

Infection control

Infection Control principles apply during any visit by an animal.

  • Hand hygiene must be practised by all those involved with the transport and handling of
    any animal in the healthcare setting.
  • The main person responsible for the management of the dog will be responsible for
    cleaning and disinfecting any spills caused by the animal, especially urine and faeces.

If an infection control and health and safety risk assessment determines that access by an animal is appropriate it must be on the following basis. Our facility maintains a register for the recording of evidence required before approval for animal visits can be provided. This register contains evidence of the following:

  • Evidence that the animal is fully immunised must be sighted. Recommended vaccinations for domestic animals in Australia can be found here:
  • The animal must be house trained
  • The animal must be under the control of the handler/person responsible at all times
  • No access is to be allowed to areas such as treatment rooms, laser therapy rooms or triage stations.

Animal control

The animal must not be left alone in our clinic and must be under the control of the handler/person responsible at all times. If a patient is required to have treatment or therapy in an area restricted to animals, then the patient must organise for a handler/person to be present to maintain and control the animal.

Animal attendance requests and approval

All requests to bring animals to our facility must be made in writing and be made at least seven (7) days prior to attendance. Approval will be provided in writing by our facility Business Manager.

Accredited assistance animals cannot be prohibited from entering our facility but may be restricted from access to certain areas as outlined in the exemptions in the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992.