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Pet visits & pet care

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 facilities.
  • 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, except for 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 animals

Gundersen recognizes Therapy Animals from the Coulee Region Humane Society. These animals are accompanied by a Gundersen volunteer and can 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.

Need a place for your pet?

Urgent pet care services

Do you need a safe, loving, secure environment for your pet while you're hospitalized or at a lengthy medical appointment? At Gundersen Health System we know pets are family, and we can help.

We can provide you with information about local pet daycare services you can trust. That way, you can relax and rest assured your pet is in great hands while you receive the healthcare you need.

Available services may include:

  • Emergent or immediate care
  • Long-term care
  • Feeding/watering/walking of your pet
  • 24/7 availability
  • Pet pick up at home or at Gundersen

Pet daycare costs are typically the patient's responsibility. If you're unable to pay, funding may be available from Gundersen. Be sure to ask if you need help.

To find out more about pet care services:

  • Call Concierge Services at ext. 50760 while you're visiting Gundersen from any Gundersen phone or (608) 775-0760 from outside Gundersen.
  • Stop at the Hospital Information Desk to speak to a Concierge Services team member.

The above contact options are available Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For all other hours, make Gundersen staff aware of your pet care needs and they will assist you.

Support our pet daycare program

Pet daycare services are supported in part by generous contributions to Gundersen Partners (the Health System Auxiliary) and Gundersen Medical Foundation. If you're interested in donating to help others needing pet care, please contact:

Gundersen Medical Foundation
1836 South Avenue
La Crosse, WI 54601
(608) 775-6600

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