I’ve not had to accommodate a service horse; neither, have I heard we’ve had one on campus (we have horses on campus but none are miniature or service horses). But they’re really no larger than a bigger breed
dog. And as Peter points out, service dogs come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.
We work with the student, the Teaching Assistants and my staff to assign the student a lab station out of the traffic pattern and on a corner where there’s more space.. Properly trained service dogs will stay
on their “spot” which is plastic backed lab paper. It gets disposed at the end of each lab section.
A number of dogs and owners I’ve worked with have dogs who alert to metabolic changes in the owner. It’s none of my business what their health condition is. Sometimes, the owner will have to take medication
when the dog alerts, which they do outside of lab. Hiring a lab aide won’t accommodate the needs of these students. We do hire lab aides, particularly for students who are blind or vision impaired but that’s a different conversation.
The behavior contract is crucial, as Kimberly relates. You don’t have to accommodate a dog which misbehaves – jumps, vocalizes inappropriately, snaps or behaves aggressively, defecates, etc. When I meet with
owners and their dog, along with the TAs, I can get a sense of how the dog is trained and if they’ll be able to comply with the behavior expectations. We’ve never had a behavior problem in the 5 years I’ve been with the department. Dog behavior problem –
humans are another topic!
I do enjoy meeting with students and their dogs. I always open the conversation by asking the owner to tell me about their dog which they are happy to do. Then we discuss what they need to be safe and successful
in lab. No judgement from me. And I’m certainly not going to tell a student to change their major because I’m unwilling to think outside my little safety box to help them be successful.
Debbie M. Decker, CCHO, ACS Fellow
Past Chair, Division of Chemical Health and Safety
Councilor and Programming Co-Chair
University of California, Davis
Birkett's hypothesis: "Any chemical reaction
that proceeds smoothly under normal conditions,
can proceed violently in the presence of an idiot."
I've seen the service dogs and they are not miniatures. To have them in lab can only occupy space so they would need to be counted as one body in the lab and thus reduce the lab enrollment by one student. I think I would tell a
student who wanted to have a service horse to change majors. There is no room in an academic lab for an animal that size.
What next - a service elephant??
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