Saturday, September 18, 2021

What if someone at my school or work is allergic to my service dog?


Greyhound standing at attention

It happens. You have been authorized to take your service dog with you when someone else in that environment says they are allergic to dog dander. (It could also be that someone is extremely fearful of dogs. The same solutions apply.)

In this case, it is understood that both individuals need reasonable accommodations. The difficulty is in figuring out what can be done because their needs are in conflict.

It is not legal to deny the use of a service dog in a public area such as a classroom or workspace because someone else is allergic. Therefore, methods must be developed to minimize contact between the dog and the person with the allergy.

The Job Accommodation Network has developed a set of recommendations of how to manage the conflicting needs by eliminating or minimizing exposure of the allergic person to the dog. Their suggestions include:

  • Flexible scheduling or different work areas for the two individuals
  • Using portable air purifiers and HEPA filters 
  • Asking the service dog owner to temporarily use other accommodations, or to use dander care products on the dog
  • Asking the allergic employee to wear an allergen mask

View other suggestions of how to handle this tricky problem of conflicting health needs here:

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