I was recently interviewed by theilovedogssite.com, a website read by 6-8 million consumers per month! I’m not a subscriber to the site so it’s funny that I was interviewed by them. Regardless, we talked about an interesting subject that may be more and more common in the future – pet friendly doctor’s offices.
When I was in Louisiana, I really never saw dogs in healthcare facilities except as service animals brought in to visit patients at the Children’s Hospital. However, in San Francisco, a city known to be very pet-friendly, pets are more commonly seen in office buildings, including medical office buildings. I’ve never proclaimed that we were a pet friendly office. Patients who felt they needed their pet with them, just brought them along!
I don’t know what the specific health codes are in regards to pets in a medical office building but as mentioned in this article from a publication in the San Francsico Bay Area, it’s pretty clear that the ADA supersedes any state or city ordinance and makes it pretty difficult to argue with someone that says their dog is a service animal. In other words, it’s not worth the fight to refuse service to someone that says they have a service animal (assuming you would even want to refuse service to them).
I don’t think a dog is a threat to anyone’s health. Their paw pads are just as clean (or not) as the bottom of our shoes. But I wouldn’t want patients to worry that my office isn’t a clean environment because of people bringing pets into the building. It’s an issue of public perception but as long as the public is fine with pets, and in San Francisco they usually are, I’m fine with it. I’m happy for patients to bring their service pets to my office if it puts them more at ease.
So far, the San Franciscans that have visited my office with a service pet have been well behaved (the pets that is!). I think most pet owners are good at recognizing if their pet will act appropriately when bringing them to a store or office environment. If a patient brings a pet with them to the office visit for comfort, who am I to take away that sense of security? Anything that is consoling to a patient during a Botox treatment or consultation is fine by me. And I think that’s what good medicine is about – treating the whole patient, not just the ailment that’s listed on the schedule.