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Pet Visits

Pets, companion and service animals

Animal-loving patients and staff can take comfort in knowing that Gundersen makes every effort to ensure animals have a place in patient care. There are rules we follow to provide safe care for all our patients.

Our pet visit policy:

  • Service animals are allowed in Gundersen facilities. Some areas may be off limits for medical or safety reasons, such as operating rooms and sterile environments.
  • Pet visits to hospitalized patients require advanced notice, documentation, and strict adherence to infection-control guidelines.
  • Therapy dogs from the Coulee Region Humane Society are welcome in our facility.
  • Emotional support and therapy animals from other programs are treated as pets.

Service animals

Gundersen recognizes that service animals provide a valuable service during care to our patients. We will ask handlers if the animal is required because of a disability and what task the animal performs for them. This helps us identify service animals and allows us to record the animal in the patient's chart. Service animals are allowed anywhere the patient would normally be allowed on campus, with the exception of sterile environments, operating rooms, or other areas that would present a safety risk.

Note: Animals whose sole functions are to provide comfort, companionship or emotional support merely by their presence (sometimes referred to as "emotional support animals") do not qualify as Service Animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). While they may be entitled to special access to housing under a different law, they are not entitled to access to Gundersen under the ADA. 

Pets and companion animals

Gundersen recognizes that pets and companions provide comfort and healing for their owners. Gundersen makes accommodations to allow these therapeutic visits on some hospital units.

A family dog or cat may visit a patient in the hospital. One pet may visit for no longer than two hours. These visits must be scheduled in advance, and we require a signed certificate of current vaccines and overall good health from the pet's veterinarian.

We will provide a waiver for you to sign upon arrival and presentation of the signed paperwork. Unfortunately, we cannot allow a pet to visit without these forms on file. Forms and patient education materials are available from your unit nurse or the hospital information desk. The pet hospital visit appointment card will walk you through the steps for this planned visit.

Patient Experience staff at Gundersen's information desks will serve as the initial contact for most individuals entering Gundersen facilities with animals. For safety reasons, there are a few locations where animals are not permitted.

Unfortunately, pets and companion animals are not allowed to accompany patients to clinic visits.

Therapy animal

Gundersen recognizes Therapy Animals from the Coulee Region Humane Society. These animals are accompanied by a Gundersen volunteer and are able to provide comfort to many patients on each visit. They have been specially trained and selected for their temperament. If you see one on your unit, feel free to give it a hug! They love it. Therapy animals from other programs are treated as pets.

Urgent pet care services

If an animal has traveled with you and is not permitted in a place where you will receive care, there is a program that may provide assistance. Pawsitively for Pets partners with a local dog and cat boarding facility. They will pick up, care for, and board your animal, if necessary, during your clinic or hospital stay. This program is at the owner's expense. If financial matters are of concern, connect with your nurse or unit Social Worker about alternatives.

what to expect

We've taken steps at all our locations to keep you and our staff healthy and safe. Here's what to expect when you visit us.

Stay safe