Animals in the Hospital

Questions? Contact Us
For the Charlottesville area:
For Culpeper, Haymarket, or Prince William:

Our policies allow for animals in the hospital, but with restrictions. These rules aim to protect patients, visitors, and staff from dangerous germs. We do allow specially trained animals to meet the needs of those who have disabilities and special needs.

Types of Animals Allowed in the Hospital

We only allow 3 types of animals in our environment.

Service Animals

We offer registration for handlers and service animals at the information desk in the hospital lobby. These passes are meant to reduce questions from members of the public and staff, but are not required.

At UVA Health, we protect the rights of individuals with service animals.

A service animal has been individually trained to do work and perform tasks for people with disabilities. Service animals are different than emotional support, therapy, comfort, or companion animals, and the same rights do not apply to individuals with animals that are not service animals. Please see our UVA Therapy Dogs section for more information regarding our in-house program.

Service animals may accompany people with disabilities in all areas of the hospital where the public is normally allowed to go, such as a lobby. In most situations, a service animal will also be allowed in patient rooms, clinics, cafeterias, or examination rooms. They are not, however, allowed in areas where the service animal’s presence may compromise a sterile environment, such as in an operating room or burn unit.

While in our facilities, the handler must be in control of the service animal at all times. This includes toileting, feeding, grooming, and veterinary care. Our team members cannot provide care or supervision of a service animal. The service animal must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered unless the disability prevents using these devices or other devices interfere with the service animal's safe, effective performance of tasks. In that case, the individual must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal, or other effective controls.

For more information about bringing your service animal to our facilities or other service animal questions, email us or call:

UVA Therapy Dogs

Our hospital enjoys the presence of a team of trained, registered dogs and volunteer handlers. Only therapy dogs registered with Volunteer Services can visit the hospital.

For more information about this program, contact Volunteer Services.


We do not permit pets and “emotional support animals" in outpatient clinics or areas.

In special circumstances, we allow pets to visit someone staying in the hospital, but only:

  • If they are dogs or cats
  • In hospital rooms, not in other clinics or spaces
  • For one hour per day
  • With doctor approval
  • With a visitor pass from the information desk
  • If following all policies for behavior and infection control

This therapy dog comforts patients in the hospital as part of an official program at UVA Health.

What Do Therapy Dogs Do?

Trained therapy dogs like Ollie visit patients in the hospital to bring comfort and stress-relief to our patients. 

Read Ollie's story