625P - Therapy Dogs in Public Schools

    1. Therapy Dogs

      A therapy dog is a dog that has been individually trained, evaluated, and officially registered with his/her handler to provide animal assisted therapy and animal assisted interactions within a school. A therapy dog is the personal property of the handler and is not the property of the school district. The handler shall assume full responsibility for the therapy dog care, behavior, and suitability for interacting with students and others in the school while the therapy dog is on school property.

    2. Requirements That Must be Satisfied Before a Therapy Dog(s) Will be Allowed on School Property

      Request: If requested by teachers, counselors, or other school personnel, a handler who wishes to bring a therapy dog to school property shall work with the building principal to establish the purpose for the therapy dog’s visit and shall submit a completed written request form (See Policy 625P Appendix, Community Relations- Therapy Dogs in Public Schools) to the building principal. Requests shall be submitted for approval each school year and/or whenever the handler wishes to use a different therapy dog. Such approval may be rescinded at any time at the sole discretion of the building principal.

      Training and Registration: The handler, who must be at least 18 years of age, shall submit proof of registration as a therapy dog handler with each individual therapy dog he or she plans to bring to the school district. Such registration shall be from an organization that requires an evaluation of the therapy dog and handler prior to registration and shall remain current and in good standing at all times.

      Health and Vaccination: The handler shall submit proof from a licensed veterinarian that the therapy dog is in good health and has been immunized against diseases common to dogs. Such vaccinations shall be kept current and up-to-date all times.

      Licensure: The handler shall submit proof of licensure from the local dog licensing authority.

      Insurance: The handler must submit a copy of an insurance policy that provides liability coverage for the work of the handler and therapy dog while the two are on school district property. Once a handler has been approved by the building principal to bring a therapy dog onto school property, the handler shall adhere to the rules of the organization with whom the handler is registered and all policies, regulations and rules of the school district.]

      Identification: The handler and therapy dog shall wear appropriate identification issued by the registering organization identifying them as a registered handler and therapy dog. The handler shall bring only registered therapy dogs onto school district property and may bring only one such dog at a time. The handler shall not be accompanied by other individuals, including children, when providing animal assisted therapy and animal assisted interactions within a school.

      Health and Safety: The handler shall ensure that the therapy dog does not pose a health and safety risk to any student, employee, or any other person at school and that the therapy dog is brought to the school district only when properly groomed, bathed, free of illness or injury and of the temperament appropriate for working with children and others in the schools.

      Control: The handler shall ensure that the therapy dog wears a collar or harness and a leash no longer than four feet and shall maintain control of the therapy dog by holding the leash at all times that the therapy dog is on school district property, including during breaks, unless holding such leash would interfere with the therapy dog's safe, effective performance of its work or tasks. The handler shall maintain control of the therapy dog at all times and shall not tether the therapy dog to any individual or object.

      Supervision and Care of the Therapy Dog: The handler shall be solely responsible for the supervision and humane care of the therapy dog, including any feeding, exercising, and cleaning up after the therapy dog while the therapy dog is in a school building or on school property. The handler shall not leave the therapy dog unsupervised or alone on school property at any time and shall limit the therapy dog's work to two consecutive hours at a time. The school district is not responsible for providing any care, supervision or assistance to the therapy dog.

      Authorized Area(s): The handler shall ensure that the therapy dog has access to only such areas of the school buildings or properties that have been authorized by school district administrators.

      Allergies and Aversions: The handler shall remove the therapy dog to a separate area as designated by the school administrator in such instances where any student or school employee who suffers dog allergies or aversions is present in an office, hallway or classroom where the therapy dog is also present.

      Recordkeeping: Handlers shall be approved Frederick County Public Schools’ volunteers, adhere to all Frederick County Public Schools’ policies and regulations, and follow all procedures for school visitors, including signing themselves and their therapy dog in upon arrival at any school and signing both out upon departure from the building. Handlers who are school district staff shall sign in their therapy dog upon arrival and sign him/her out on their departure.

      Fees and Gratuities: The handler shall not charge a fee for the work they perform with the therapy dog, shall not borrow money or personal items or receive any personal gratuity, gift or tip.

      Multiple Therapy Dogs on Site: The handler shall confirm whether or not there will be any other therapy dog(s) on site prior to scheduling any visit with a therapy dog and shall take steps with appropriate staff to ensure that the dogs do not engage inappropriately while on school property. When multiple therapy dogs are engaged in a planned activity on school district property, the handlers shall ensure that the dogs have an opportunity to greet each other prior to entering the school building. Once inside the building, the handlers shall ensure that the dogs are each on a leash no longer than four feet, given work space at least eight feet from each other and are given no opportunity for contact or socialization with each other while working.

      Damages and Injuries: The handler shall assume full responsibility and liability for any damage to school property or injury to district staff, students or others in the school caused by the therapy dog.

      Exclusion or Removal from School District Property: A therapy dog may be excluded from school district property if a school administrator determines that: (1) The 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; or (4) The therapy dog's presence otherwise interferes with the educational program. The handler shall immediately remove his/her therapy dog from school property when instructed to do so by a school administrator.


    Cross Reference(s):
    Policy 609P, Community Relations- School Visitors

    Policy 625P Appendix, Community Relations- Therapy Dogs in Public Schools

    Regulation 724R-B, Operations and Finance- Non-School Employees Working in Schools


    Adopted: February 5, 2019