How can service animals be safely included in lab classes?

Date Updated

Students with disabilities should be allowed to bring their service animals into the lab, although they may choose not to. There are a variety of strategies that ensure that service animals can be safe in lab classes. Because service animals are well trained they tend not to pose a safety hazard to others.

To ensure a service animal and classmates are safe, you may want to consider the following issues.

  • Determine what service the animal provides. If the animal is trained to pick up items or alert the user, could materials used in the lab be harmful?
  • What safety equipment is needed? Examples include dog goggles, booties, or raincoats or a mat to lie on may be appropriate.
  • Is there a place in the lab that the animal can stay during class to stay away from potential spills? The location should be out of the way of hazards, should not create an obstacle to other students, and should allow the service animal to keep the student in their line of sight.
  • If a lab is not safe, the student could be allowed to choose between participating without the animal or participating in a comparable assignment or experiment.

In answering these questions, it may be appropriate to consult with lab faculty or staff to determine hazards in the labs and the safety protocols that are used.

For more information on accommodating students with disabilities in lab courses, visit the American Chemical Society’s Teaching Chemistry to Students with Disabilities: A Manual for High Schools, Colleges, and Graduate Programs 4th Edition.