6455 - THERAPY DOGS
6000 - STUDENTS
6455 THERAPY DOGS
Adoption Date: 01/09/2020
The BOCES supports the use of therapy dogs by teachers or other qualified school personnel (“handler”) for the benefit of its students. The use of therapy dog teams in the BOCES is a privilege allowed based on the proper adherence to the conditions of this policy.
Therapy Dog - A therapy dog is a dog that has been individually selected, trained and certified to work with its owner to provide emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship to school district students under the direction and control of a qualified handler. Therapy dogs are not “service animals” as that term is used in the American with Disabilities Act. The dog must be well behaved and have a temperament that is suitable for interaction with students and others in a public school. Therapy dogs are personal property of the teacher or employee and are not owned by the BOCES.
Therapy Dog Standards and Procedures.The following requirements must be satisfied before a therapy dog will be allowed in school buildings or on BOCES grounds:
Request. Before submitting a request for a therapy dog, the dog must be at least one year old, and the handler and dog must reside together for a minimum of six months. An owner who wants to bring a therapy dog to school must submit a written application to the program principal (see Form 6455F). That application will be reviewed by a committee established by the District Superintendent for that purpose. The committee will include one or more canine experts. Approval must be renewed each school year. A copy of the application will be kept on file in the building(s) where the therapy dog team works.
Training and Certification. The handler must submit the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen Certification and certification from an American Kennel Club Recognized Therapy Dog Organization that the dog has passed all required tests necessary to become a Therapy Dog. Both certifications must always remain current for the Therapy Dog to be present in any BOCES buildings. The therapy dog handler is responsible for all associated costs involved with the application process (i.e. veterinarian check-up, all evaluations, equipment for the therapy dog, etc.). A photo of the therapy dog team (handler and dog) must be submitted the first year of service and then every year thereafter.
Health and Vaccination. The therapy dog must be clean, well groomed (including teeth and nails), in good health, house broken, and immunized against diseases common to dogs. Therapy Dogs should be spayed or neutered to reduce the hormonal impact on behavior. The handler must submit proof of current licensure from the local licensing authority and proof of the therapy dog’s current vaccination and immunizations (listed below) from a licensed veterinarian. The results of a titer verifying the dog is immunized against common dog diseases may be submitted in lieu of vaccinations. The therapy dog must wear a collar and rabies tag at all times. Injured or sick dogs (within the last 24 hours) will NOT be brought to school.
(a) Rabies – Administered every three years with the actual vaccination date signed by a veterinarian
(b) Bordetella – Recommended annual administration but does not need a vet certification; document the date and type or brand of vaccination and submit this information each time it is administered
(c) 5 or 7-Way Parvo – Recommendations vary so follow the recommendations of your veterinarian, but documentation of the date and type/brand of vaccination given should be submitted each time it is administered
(d) De-worming – Recommend a yearly negative fecal exam OR heartworm medication given year-round with a comprehensive wormer (one that kills tapeworms) given annually
Equipment. The following equipment is needed for a therapy dog on BOCES property.
(a) Crate of appropriate size in the room where the dog will take breaks, rest, and retreat.
(b) Water bowl
(c) Short leash (four feet or shorter). Retractable leashes and choke chains as well as pinch, prong, spiked or electronic collars are not allowed.
(d) Baggies (for waste management)
Control. The therapy dog must be under the control of the handler through the use of a leash or other tether unless the use of a leash or other tether would interfere with the therapy dog's safe, effective performance of its work or tasks. However, the therapy dog must be under the handler’s control at all times. In an effort to avoid detraction from the employee’s primary responsibilities, the therapy dog must come with at least one additional trained handler.
Identification. The therapy dog must have appropriate identification clearly indicating that it is a therapy dog.
Health and Safety. The therapy dog must not pose a health and safety risk to any student, employee, or other person at school. In the event of a school emergency such as a lockdown or evacuation, the owner must prioritize student health and welfare over the care of the therapy dog.
Supervision and Care of Therapy Dogs. The handler is solely responsible for the supervision and care of the therapy dog, including any feeding, exercising, and clean up while the animal is in a school building or on BOCES property. The BOCES is not responsible for providing any care, supervision, or assistance for a therapy. Such supervision and care must not detract from the employee’s primary responsibilities with students.
Limitations. There is to be no more than one therapy dog in any school building/program on a given day. Therefore, if there is a request for more than one therapy dog, the owners are responsible for developing and adhering to a schedule of when each dog will be in the school building. Exceptions may be made by the program principal to address specific student needs (i.e. in the event of a crisis).
Authorized Area(s). The owner shall only allow the therapy dog to be in areas in school buildings or on BOCES property that are authorized by BOCES administrators.
Insurance. The owner must submit a copy of a Commercial General Liability insurance policy that provides liability coverage for the therapy dog while on BOCES property in the amount of $1,000,000 per occurrence/$2,000,000 aggregate.
Exclusion or Removal from School. A therapy dog may be excluded from BOCES property and buildings if an administrator determines that:
(1) A handler does not have control of the therapy dog;
(2) The therapy dog is not housebroken;
(3) The therapy dog presents a direct and immediate threat to others in the school;
(4) The animal’s presence otherwise interferes with the educational process.
The handler shall be required to remove the therapy dog from BOCES premises immediately upon such a determination.
Allergic Reactions. If any student or school employee assigned to a classroom in which a therapy dog is permitted suffers an allergic reaction to the therapy dog, the owner of the animal will be required to remove the animal to a different location designated by an administrator.
Damages to School Property and Injuries. The owner of a therapy dog is solely responsible and liable for any damage to BOCES property or injury to personnel, students, or others caused by the therapy dogs.
Bite Protocol – If a therapy dog bites a person or another animal, the dog will not be allowed back on BOCES property. The program principal will document the incident, withdraw approval of the application, and send a letter to the dog handler.