Service Animals and Personal Pet Visitation

Service dog

At Moffitt Cancer Center, we welcome guide and service dogs in our facility and support therapy animal programs that provide our patients with comfort and therapeutic benefits. While we understand that pets, or emotional support animals, can also provide their owners with a sense of safety, companionship and comfort, they are not individually trained to perform specific tasks for their handlers. For the safety of our patients, visitors and team members, we are unable to invite emotional support animals inside the cancer center.

Please see the list of frequently asked questions below for details on which animals are permitted in the building.

What animals are allowed inside Moffitt Cancer Center?

We welcome guide and service dogs as long as facility rules are followed and they do not disturb the health care environment. 

What is a guide or service dog?

A guide or service dog is one that has been trained to perform specific tasks or provide benefit for an individual with a disability. They include Seeing Eye dogs, hearing dogs, mobility dogs and seizure response dogs. 

Are comfort animals and emotional support animals allowed?

No. For the health, safety and comfort of all, only guide and service dogs are allowed. 

Where is a guide or service dog allowed?

Guide and service dogs are allowed in public places. For safety and infection control purposes, guide and service dogs are not allowed in protected environments such as the operating room, sterile processing department and any area that may be restricted to the general public. 

What are the expectations of a guide or service dog and its handler?

Guide and service dogs should be leashed or harnessed and under the control of their handler at all times. They should be well groomed with immunizations up to date. They should behave in a way that reflects their training, which means:

  • No barking, biting, growling, snapping, showing aggression
  • No urinating or bowel movements in unapproved areas
  • No sniffing or bothering others or interacting with others
  • No damaging goods, taking food, begging, jumping
  • No behaviors that distract the dog from its work 

The dog’s handler is expected to provide all care and clean up for the dog. Moffitt staff and volunteers are not allowed to care for a guide or service dog. The handler is responsible and liable for the dog’s behavior and care.

What will happen if an animal other than a guide or service dog is in the facility or if a guide or service dog is not behaving properly?

If you bring an animal that is not a guide or service dog into our facility or if your guide or service dog is acting inappropriately, you will be asked to remove the animal from our facility. If there is no one with you to remove the animal while you receive services, you may have to reschedule your appointments.

What will happen if I become unable to care for my guide or service dog or require admission to the hospital?

The dog handler is responsible for the animal at all times. If the handler cannot care for the dog, the handler should contact someone to take and care for the dog. If you cannot locate someone to care for the dog within a reasonable amount of time, Patient Relations/Security will contact the following places: 

  1. Local shelters to retrieve the dog at the owner’s expense
  2. The agency that provided the dog (if known) to retrieve it
  3. The county Animal Control Service to pickup the dog 

What do I do if an unapproved animal is present, or a service dog or their handler is not acting properly?

Call (813) 745-7582 to report the situation to Moffitt Security or Patient Relations. 

What if I am in a setting with a guide or service dog and I am uncomfortable?

If you are in a waiting room or a group therapy setting where a guide or service dog is present and causing you concern, please report the situation to a staff member. If the guide or service dog and handler are behaving properly, we can offer you an alternative place to sit. If the animal is not a guide or service dog or acting properly, staff may assist. 

What if I need to stay in a hotel with my pet?

Moffitt recommends these hotels. The hotels designated as PF allow pets. 

What if I need to board my dog after being admitted to the hospital?

Moffitt recommends River’s Edge Pet Resort, which is located about seven miles from Moffitt’s Magnolia campus. 

This information is based on: Moffitt Policy IC-071: Service Animals and Personal Pet Visitation

For further information, please contact Moffitt Security (813)745-4772 or the Patient Relations Department (813)745-7582.