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Support dog creates dilemma

April 6, 2020

A Houston-based medical group is adopting a new policy regarding emotional support dogs after a patient brought hers to a clinic Nov. 19 and was asked to leave, reports KHOU 11.

Kandi Cox brought her 82-pound emotional support dog, Bentley, to a follow-up appointment at Millennium Physicians’ oncology and rheumatology office in Kingwood, Texas. Ms. Cox, who was recently diagnosed with cervical cancer, said she was shocked when a physician asked her to leave the facility because of her dog.

The Americans with Disabilities Act generally requires  hospitals to allow patients with a disability to keep a service animal with them in the facility. However, hospitals can ask animals to leave if they’re near immunocompromised patients. Furthermore, the ADA does not grant emotional support animals the same access rights as service dogs.

The physician who asked Ms. Cox to leave thought it was in the best interest of the practice’s patients, many of whom are undergoing chemotherapy and are immunocompromised, according to Rachel Taylor, a practice administrator for Millennium Physicians.

“We were, however, able to accommodate this patient later in the day, with her animal, in one of our other clinic offices, where the chemotherapy area is more remote,” she said in a statement to KHOU 11. “We very much regret today’s occurrence, and we hope that with the adoption and dissemination of a written policy in this regard, no patient will ever be inconvenienced or embarrassed while visiting our clinics.”

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