COASTAL BEND –
Medical professionals say they’re concerned because they’re seeing a growing number of comfort dogs and emotional support dogs in their waiting rooms. Unlike service dogs, comfort and emotional support dogs require little to no training.
Dr. James Mobley, who works at the Medical Arts Clinic in Portland, saysÂ the office sees a dog in its waiting room at least once a day.
“We’ve had a couple of instances where dogs have been mildly aggressive,Â sort of growling or unhappy with the number of people around,” Dr. Mobley said.
The dogs Dr. Mobley speaks of are usually comfort or emotional support dogs. Dr. Mobley says thankfully no one has been hurt, but he fears the outcome may be different next time.
“We don’t know the background of the dog, or what kind of training it’s had or anything,” Dr. Mobley said.
Allergy testing is also done at the Medical Arts Clinic and the presence of an animal could stir up someone’s allergies. Now it’s up to medical professionals like Dr. Mobley to come up with a way to make sure everyone’s health needs are met.
“We have significant liability here if something happens and we’ve done nothing to properly regulate it,” Dr. Mobley said.
Meanwhile, some patients believe dogs should not be allowed in the waiting room. Others like Keiarra Ortiz-Cedeno believe dogs should be allowed under certain circumstances.
“I don’t necessarily think that comfort dogs are appropriate for waiting room,” Ortiz-Cedeno said.Â “But I think that service dogs are working animals and so they should be allowed,” she added.?
As of a month ago, the Medical Arts ClinicÂ requires all patients who bring a pet to sign a form. The form acknowledges that theÂ patient’s dog has proper vaccinations and will not become aggressive in the building.
To accommodate people with allergies, the Clinic is also considering asking patients who have a service animal or comfort dog, to schedule their appointments right before closing time. The Clinic would be cleaned overnight so people with allergies can undergo testing first thing in the morning.?