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Therapy dogs and Allergies

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Okay thoughts on therapy dogs in a building and the impact on students with allergies. None specifically identified as having a dog allergy. But also knowing that I don't necessarily have a list of every trigger that kids with asthma have. And go ...

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What is your policy for things like peanut allergies? Obv an allergy to dander is not in any way comparable, but i'd imagine it would be handled similarly, with seating rearrangements and hygeine policies etc. Parents can brush the dog every morning to reduce the risk as well, esp if it is a longer haired breed. Maybe a letter home so parents can voice any concerns?

Service dogs are not running around getting their dander everywhere. Its not like having a class pet. You can definitely make a plan that takes everyone's needs into consideration.

ETA- wait, I think I misunderstood- you are talking about visiting (or residential) therapy dogs, not dedicated service animals? Still, pretty much the same thing. They can be kept out of common areas if there is an allergy concern, along with doing morning grooming etc. If there is a real concern about student comfort or safety, that is first priority. However i think in the majority of cases, a little common sense and parent-teacher cooperation is all that is needed.

Edited by cayenne06

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My thought is, in this day and age and stage, therapy dogs will trump students with allergies.

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My thought is, in this day and age and stage, therapy dogs will trump students with allergies.

I am not sure what you mean by this? Is it that you don't feel we take allergies seriously in this day and age?

It doesn't have to be either/or. Therapy animals can have important and measurable effects on quality of life for kids struggling with trauma/instability/mental health issues etc. Barring unusual circumstances, it is not all that difficult to come up with a plan to BOTH protect kids/employees with allergies, and to allow others to access the benefits of a therapy animal. Not a big deal.

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This is a really interesting question--trying to balance the needs of two different populations. I've found that not all allergies are given equal weight. My son's grade school was "peanut free." He has an allergy to shrimp but the school cafeteria served shrimp as a meat-free option for many years.

In a similar vein, one of the local high schools had a dilemma when a student who was on the autism spectrum (and maybe Tourette's?) used disparaging language and racial epithets with African American students. What's the pecking order? Who do we serve first? I have no answers, but it seems that these issues are only going to become more common and more complex.

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I am not sure what you mean by this? Is it that you don't feel we take allergies seriously in this day and age?

It doesn't have to be either/or. Therapy animals can have important and measurable effects on quality of life for kids struggling with trauma/instability/mental health issues etc. Barring unusual circumstances, it is not all that difficult to come up with a plan to BOTH protect kids/employees with allergies, and to allow others to access the benefits of a therapy animal. Not a big deal.

What's the policy for this at your school?

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We have 3 therapy dogs that work with us during the week. I had a student with a bad dog allergy. She took her allergy medication in the morning and was still able to interact with the dogs at will.

Benefits of therapy animals outweighed the allergies.

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My thought is, in this day and age and stage, therapy dogs will trump students with allergies.

What about an emotional support peacock? :cheeky:

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This is a genuine service animal and not a "comfort animal?" The pupper will detect seizure activity, sniff out a high or low blood glucose? I think you want that on campus, right? How many teachers are covered in pet dander daily? I am (dog and cat).

I think it's a case by case consideration. If a child has asthma that is demonstrably affected by dander then maybe s/he is not in the same class with the dog?

Let us know how this works out!

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This is a genuine service animal and not a "comfort animal?" The pupper will detect seizure activity, sniff out a high or low blood glucose? I think you want that on campus, right? How many teachers are covered in pet dander daily? I am (dog and cat).

I think it's a case by case consideration. If a child has asthma that is demonstrably affected by dander then maybe s/he is not in the same class with the dog?

Let us know how this works out!

Wow! Call me clueless, but can service animals really detect seizure activity and sniff out glucose levels? I could understand DKA, but I can smell that.

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Wow! Call me clueless, but can service animals really detect seizure activity and sniff out glucose levels? I could understand DKA, but I can smell that.

My friend's dog Scout alerts to her son's seizures and has stopped him from hitting the floor. I don't know the mechanism of action but Scout's completely effective. He is fully trained to do this (his primary job) and he wears a red vest.

Edited by ruby_jane
confusing

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Our OT started a therapy dog program here and typically interacts with our preschoolers during their OT sessions. We reviewed allergies and our plan is to contact the parents of students with allergies prior to the student having interaction with the dog. We've had 0 issues and the program has been a great addition to our school. It's amazing to see the fine motor and language skills that have developed in our preschoolers due to this program.

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