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Therapy dogs and Allergies

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Huh. So, this parent is so allergic as to cause discomfort even when her child was exposed to the dog, what? twice a week? Does her child never hang out in other kids' houses with dogs? I'm trying to get my head around this. Couldn't they just have not allowed this particular student to interact with the dog? Or better yet, couldn't this parent have (horrors!) explained to the child that, unfortunately, the dog's dander (or aura or cooties or however you explain it to a child) get on your clothes and hands and then make mommy/daddy feel really crummy, so please don't touch the dog? The parent could have also explained that this is a problem that their family has to deal with and they aren't going to ruin it for everyone else. Guess that's a pipe dream in our times.

Bbbbut that requires parenting!

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Yes to the seizure dog....My cousin has a daughter with a seizure disorder and she had a service dog trained to detect oncoming seizures when her daughter was younger - I was skeptical at first until I witnessed with my own eyes. They used the dog for a good 10 years, sadly the dog passed away.

Amazing what animals can do.

My best friend's grandson has 1. Hemophilia 2. Autism 3. Allergies. They were able to get a service dog to help with the autism and were hoping it could be trained to detect a beginning bleed. Unfortunately the allergies could not be controlled in the presence of the dog, and the dog had to go. It was donated to another family with an autistic child and limited resources, but a bummer for my friend's grandson.

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Bbbbut that requires parenting!

You're right. That sounds like a lot of work.

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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.

Yes, service animals can alert to impending seizures or hypoglycemia.

Seizure Dogs | Epilepsy Foundation

Diabetic Alert Dogs of America | FAQs

There was a situation a few years back at Duke where they allowed a service dog into the OR so it could alert anesthesia if the child was about to go into anaphylaxis:

Service Dog Sniffs Out Girl's Disease, Even in Operating Room - ABC News

That said, I don't think OP was talking about service dogs. She mentioned therapy dogs which are completely different. Pet therapy dogs undergo training and volunteer to visit places like hospitals, nursing homes or schools to provide therapy to patients or students. Pet therapy dogs were at the pediatric hospital I worked at all the time.

Difference Between a Therapy Dog vs a Service Dog

Emotional service dogs are a completely different thing all together. They are not required to undergo any training and, by law, only have to be allowed to live with their owner and accompany them on an airplane. I know my best friend, who is a school psychologist, had an issue at a school she used to work with where a mom was trying to get it in her son's 504 that his emotional support dog could come to school on test days or something but the school fought that.

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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.

This is a reason why I will not permit my school to become peanut free. I will allow peanut free (peanut aware) areas and classrooms with the understanding that there can be no guarantees and that the staff will not be checking all the other children's lunches, but I can think off the top of my head of plenty of other allergens besides peanuts that can cause fatal reactions that generally aren't removed from existence in settings.

The following is an article published by the journal of allergy and clinical immunology, which supports this argument:

https://www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749(17)30666-8/pdf

Oh, but getting back to the dogs - if a student needed a service animal, there would be a legal requirement to accommodate that student under ADA. And... if a student can get the right paperwork stating that they need their therapy animal then there is a legal requirement to accomodate under 504 - so i think were stuck either way. If there are children with allergies to said animal then the parents as the main caretakers of the animal do have an obligation to provide extra care such as baths and brushing to keep dander to a minimum and the school could take the extra step in providing a hepa filter ( or perhaps have the parent of the child needing the animal??) in areas where the animal spends long periods of time.

Edited by Flare

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This is a reason why I will not permit my school to become peanut free. I will allow peanut free (peanut aware) areas and classrooms with the understanding that there can be no guarantees and that the staff will not be checking all the other children's lunches, but I can think off the top of my head of plenty of other allergens besides peanuts that can cause fatal reactions that generally aren't removed from existence in settings.

The following is an article published by the journal of allergy and clinical immunology, which supports this argument:

https://www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749(17)30666-8/pdf

Oh, but getting back to the dogs - if a student needed a service animal, there would be a legal requirement to accommodate that student under ADA. And... if a student can get the right paperwork stating that they need their therapy animal then there is a legal requirement to accomodate under 504 - so i think were stuck either way. If there are children with allergies to said animal then the parents as the main caretakers of the animal do have an obligation to provide extra care such as baths and brushing to keep dander to a minimum and the school could take the extra step in providing a hepa filter ( or perhaps have the parent of the child needing the animal??) in areas where the animal spends long periods of time.

I think the issue here is that Therapy dogs are not a part of any individual care plan and don't fall into ADA requirements...like service dogs. The comparison will rile some but therapy dogs are like "calming rooms" or coloring books to be used on an as needed basis without any type of medical guidance or instruction. As the positive affects continue to manifest from Therapy dogs they will continue to become more and more popular; hence my initial statement...therapy dogs, nowadays, will trump allergies - a circle back to providing for "the greater good" and the individual with dog allergies will just have to avoid the allergen...putting it harshly, "you can't come in here because you're allergic to the dog."

Again, I'm not anti-therapy dog...I'm just stepping back and looking at the broader complexion.

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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.

There is nothing in public school that is "not a big deal."

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My son has awful asthma. He is also allergic to dogs (among many other things that can and do trigger his asthma), with that being said, I have zero issue with service or therapy dogs at his school. My son takes allergy meds, used his inhalers and has a nebulizer at school. My son is also very aware of his allergies and asthma and how the two go hand in hand. He knows what he is allergic to and knows the appropriate steps to avoid his triggers.

Now when I say my sons asthma is awful, I mean it is AWFUL. To the point of being transported to the ER from school via ambulance bc his O2 has dropped to 82%, blue lips, pale, clammy skin etc.

Point being, my son knows not to get close enough to dogs so he can avoid inhaling their dander. He knows not to touch them, not to have them on his belongings etc. So dogs aren't an issue unless he were to decide to literally roll around on the ground with one. Being in the same room with one doesn't impact his asthma/allergy whatsoever.

So, I am a-okay with service and therapy dogs. I know how valuable they can be for the person they are helping and I am aware they are very much needed. If the school can accommodate my child and his asthma, then they should also accommodate a child or children who need a service/therapy dog.

Just my 2 cents.

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This is a reason why I will not permit my school to become peanut free. I will allow peanut free (peanut aware) areas and classrooms with the understanding that there can be no guarantees and that the staff will not be checking all the other children's lunches, but I can think off the top of my head of plenty of other allergens besides peanuts that can cause fatal reactions that generally aren't removed from existence in settings.

The following is an article published by the journal of allergy and clinical immunology, which supports this argument:

https://www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749(17)30666-8/pdf

Oh, but getting back to the dogs - if a student needed a service animal, there would be a legal requirement to accommodate that student under ADA. And... if a student can get the right paperwork stating that they need their therapy animal then there is a legal requirement to accomodate under 504 - so i think were stuck either way. If there are children with allergies to said animal then the parents as the main caretakers of the animal do have an obligation to provide extra care such as baths and brushing to keep dander to a minimum and the school could take the extra step in providing a hepa filter ( or perhaps have the parent of the child needing the animal??) in areas where the animal spends long periods of time.

Thanks! This is similar to a statement I read many years ago from the American Allergy and Anaphylaxis Association. That statement had a very concerned tone to it, almost imploring schools not to implement these policies.

RE: Dogs. I think it comes down to Need vs. Want. A kid needs to be able to breathe in order to learn. Does a different kid need a dog to learn? I'm not sure. Again, no answers. It does seem to me that people are unwilling to endure or let their children endure even a modicum of discomfort these days. Illustration: Did that woman really need her support peacock to fly?

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My son has awful asthma. He is also allergic to dogs (among many other things that can and do trigger his asthma), with that being said, I have zero issue with service or therapy dogs at his school. My son takes allergy meds, used his inhalers and has a nebulizer at school. My son is also very aware of his allergies and asthma and how the two go hand in hand. He knows what he is allergic to and knows the appropriate steps to avoid his triggers.

Now when I say my sons asthma is awful, I mean it is AWFUL. To the point of being transported to the ER from school via ambulance bc his O2 has dropped to 82%, blue lips, pale, clammy skin etc.

Point being, my son knows not to get close enough to dogs so he can avoid inhaling their dander. He knows not to touch them, not to have them on his belongings etc. So dogs aren't an issue unless he were to decide to literally roll around on the ground with one. Being in the same room with one doesn't impact his asthma/allergy whatsoever.

So, I am a-okay with service and therapy dogs. I know how valuable they can be for the person they are helping and I am aware they are very much needed. If the school can accommodate my child and his asthma, then they should also accommodate a child or children who need a service/therapy dog.

Just my 2 cents.

Parents like you reinforce there are still realists out there. Thank You! That boy is lucky to have you as his mom!

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The way I see it is at some point my child has to know how to manage his allergies and asthma on his own. Realistically, I can't be with him all of the time. He's 9 and is very aware of what he needs to look out for and when he needs to alert an adult when he is in trouble. We are very blessed to have an amazing elementary school that works with him, myself, and his doctors. As a team we are able to keep things under control but ultimately none of that will work unless my son is educated on his asthma and allergies. He also realizes that he can't do everything else his peers do and that's okay bc needs come before wants and it's up to him to make sure he knows his boundaries. He also knows he isn't a special snowflake and the world can't always accommodate him. That's why educating him has been so important.

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The way I see it is at some point my child has to know how to manage his allergies and asthma on his own. Realistically, I can't be with him all of the time. He's 9 and is very aware of what he needs to look out for and when he needs to alert an adult when he is in trouble. We are very blessed to have an amazing elementary school that works with him, myself, and his doctors. As a team we are able to keep things under control but ultimately none of that will work unless my son is educated on his asthma and allergies. He also realizes that he can't do everything else his peers do and that's okay bc needs come before wants and it's up to him to make sure he knows his boundaries. He also knows he isn't a special snowflake and the world can't always accommodate him. That's why educating him has been so important.

(((hugs to you mama!))) You are blessing him with the gift of wings. When he needs to fly he will be much better-prepared.

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