DATE: September, 2005
TO: District Leadership Team
FROM: Scott Emry, Risk Manager
RE: Dogs and Schools
The presence of dogs in and around schools is a controversial subject given the unique relationship between people and dogs in general and between kids and dogs in particular. While there are benefits to be derived through the interaction between children and animals, we also need to be aware of the risks associated with the presence of dogs on campus. Within the past two years we have had instances of people being bitten by dogs both in school and on the grounds. Indoor air quality, including odors, can be affected due to animal dander that is present with any fur animal; dander that can be transported throughout the building by the HVAC system. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, allergies induced by dog and cat contact are estimated to occur in approximately 15% of the population. The presence of a dog may cause a student who has allergies to have a reaction that is detrimental to the health of the child as well as the child’s educational experience. While most of the dogs that are brought into schools are well cared for, the very nature of a dog being a dog impacts the cleanliness of the classroom. We also have the ongoing challenge of dogs being allowed to run unleashed on school grounds as well as dog owners not cleaning up after their animals during their walks on campus.
Service dogs play an important role in assisting people in their daily lives. While these dogs are by their nature very friendly and well-behaved, they still carry with them the same environmental issues as any other fur-bearing animal.
The Puget Sound Risk Management Pool recommends that dogs not be brought to the schools. King County Code 11.04.230 (which applies to all jurisdictions in King County) prohibits dogs from being allowed to run unleashed on school grounds. The King County Code also requires that if a dog does bite a person, it must be reported to the King County Health Department and the animal be placed in quarantine for 10 days.
In order to ensure our schools are safe and comfortable for all inhabitants, the district has developed the following requirements regarding dogs in and on school grounds:
- Dogs are not allowed in the school or classroom unless they are serving as a bona-fide service dog to a staff member, parent, child or visitor. In such cases, an up to date vaccination record must be provided for the animal.
- The decision to allow service dogs in training will be left up to each site administrator. However, they must also provide an up to date vaccination record.
- Parents should be advised that dogs are not allowed in the school. Dogs are also not allowed on school grounds during the hours in which school children are present.
- King County Code requires that dog bites will be reported to the King County Health Department and the dog may be placed in quarantine for 10 days.
- During non-student hours dogs must be leashed in accordance with King County Code 11.04.230.
There is another class of dogs, the registered therapy dog, for which a school may want to grant an exception. Therapy dogs are specially trained dogs that might be of assistance to schools in working with students with learning disabilities as well as emotional, developmental, behavior and traumatic / grief issues. In order for registered therapy dogs to be permitted in the classroom the following is required:
- The school’s guidance team must approve the use of a registered therapy dog for a specific student or group of students.
- The teacher in which the dog would be present must agree to the having the dog in her or his classroom. Should the teacher agree but later find the dog is not serving the overall best interest of the classroom, the teacher may require the dog be removed from the classroom.
- Parents of the children with whom the therapy dog will be used must approve of the use and must sign a waiver of liability for the school district.
- An up to date vaccination record must be provided for the animal.
- The dog and handler must have completed a course of instruction for therapy dogs as approved by the Delta Society or other competent organization and must provide appropriate proof of liability insurance.
- The dog will be removed from the school if a student or staff member in the classroom or school complains of allergies related to dogs.