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Service animals

At VA Palo Alto health care, we are committed to offering Veterans of all abilities safe, easy, and equal access to quality health care. We welcome service animals and recognize the significance of their service and companionship. This information will help visitors to our facilities learn about our programs and policies.

Service dogs

Service dogs are trained to help people with disabilities. They must be given access to VHA property when they accompany someone with a disability.

Visit our service dogs page to learn more about our policy and about service animals.

Emotional support animals (ESA)

Emotional support animals (ESAs) help to improve their owner's emotional or mental well-being. They don't need any special training, and can be any type of domesticated animal.

ESAs are different from service animals, but they can be just as important to their owners. They give emotional support and can be a vital part of a Veteran's treatment plan.

ESAs are not given the same legal rights as service animals because they don't go through special training to help people with disabilities with specific tasks.

Keep in mind that emotional support animals are not allowed on the grounds of VA health care facilities, and they cannot come with you to your appointments.

To prevent unnecessary stress, please remember to check the guidelines in advance when bringing your emotional support animal to other places you visit.

Puppies Assisting Wounded Service Members (PAWS)

The PAWS pilot program is evaluating if it would be beneficial to have Veterans with PTSD train service dogs for other Veterans. VA Palo Alto health care was chosen to be one of 5 PAWS pilot sites throughout the country, and invites Veterans who meet the program criteria to participate.

Visit our PAWS Pilot Program page to learn more