Around Veterans' Day, I came across a lot of touching stories online about how service dogs are helping veterans.
It got me thinking about how these animals assist students with disabilities, and their impact on a district’s or bus company’s school bus service.
This is an issue that was addressed in an article published by SBF
in 2004 written by Jean Zimmerman, supervisor of occupational and physical therapy for the School District of Palm Beach County (Fla.), and Kathy Furneaux, executive director of the Pupil Transportation Safety Institute, titled “What You Need to Know About Transporting Service Animals.”
covers the laws related to transporting service dogs on school buses, and Zimmerman and Furneaux also discuss the ways that service dogs help students with disabilities.
For example, they write that for students with seizure activity, the dogs “can actually give the student a warning that they are going to have a seizure. This gives students an opportunity to find a place to sit before they actually go into the seizure activity. Also, in case a student who is alone has a seizure, service dogs are trained to go find help.”
How and where a service dog should ride the bus is discussed, as is what should be taken into consideration during emergencies when bus evacuations are necessary. Zimmerman and Furneaux say that if a student is unable to give the dog a command, it has been trained to follow commands from another person. To prepare for this, students or their parents should train the bus staff in these commands.
Does your operation transport students who use a service animal? If so, have you faced any challenges as a result of this, and how have you addressed those challenges?
Or, have you had to change any of your policies or training procedures to accommodate the service animals? Post a comment below or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
On an interesting side note, I reported in this blog last year about a Massachusetts-based bus company that provided assistance in training service dogs on the correct way to enter and ride a bus.
A volunteer for the Franklin chapter of NEADS (National Education for Assistance Dogs Services) contacted Vendetti Bus/Vendetti Motors for the task, and owner Joe Vendetti and his daughter, Julie, donated not only the bus, but offered to pay a driver for the bus for as long as NEADS needed it.
The company’s employees were also happy to volunteer their time to drive the bus for the event.
To read that blog post and view photos from the training day, go here
Until next time,
| posted on Friday, November 16, 2012 1:38 PM