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Subject: Service dogs

Service dogs

From: Alison Freake <alison.freake<-at->
Date: Monday, February 13, 2012
Juli McLoone <juli.mcloone [at] gmail__com> write

>Has anyone on the list had past experience with service dogs (or
>other animals) in special collections?  Assuming the dogs to be
>well-behaved and well-groomed, does their presence introduce
>additional environmental/preservation concerns?  If there are
>preservation concerns, what steps that can be taken to ameliorate
>the effects of the animal's presence?  I am interested in
>perspectives on these questions with regard not only to the reading
>room, but to workroom and stacks areas.

As a conservator in a provincial government archives, I have been
asked a similar question with regard to service dogs.  I also
sponsor the training of service dogs in my area, so I have a special
interest in this topic.

It's important to note, first of all, that legislation regarding
admission of service dogs may vary by region, but I am unaware of
any areas that do not permit service dogs in any public area.  The
manner in which the legislation is drafted, however, is equally
important: in the Province of Alberta, the Service Dog Act permits
and protects the rights of handlers in the general admission of
registered service dogs ONLY. This means that the handler of any
service dog must present upon request a registration card issued by
a GoA Registry.  The legislation places the onus on the handler to
ensure the appropriate behaviour of the dog, and to bear
responsibility for any damage resulting from the dog's presence and
behaviour.  If a dog wearing a service vest is permitted inside a
facility without such a registration card (which bears the dog's
photo), then the responsibility lies with the facility, since the
staff should have requested to see the identification card. (Service
vests are readily available online, so don't assume that a vest is
evidence of service dog training),  Any attempt to claim registered
status without such a card is subject to a fine, as well.

Given that any trained service dog will be practically invisible on
most occasions, I suspect this has not been much of an issue for
libraries, archives, and other cultural institutions.  Organizations
that train service dogs are extremely cautious about matching
animals with handlers/clients, so it is unlikely that we would ever
see an animal causing a disturbance.  The biggest issue is
unawareness of legislation on the part of front-line staff to
prevent abuse of service dog privileges by owners of untrained

I have yet to see a service dog come into our reading room, and
certainly our storage vaults and work areas are generally
off-limits. However, a registered four-legged visitor may show up
tomorrow, or a staff member may require an assistance dog in the
future.  If that were the case, I don't think a single animal
presents any more of a hazard to collections than what is already
coming through the door within materials newly accessioned.
Allergies present a larger issue, since I know at least one member
of our staff is violently allergic to any fur-bearing creature. If
we did have a service dog show up, we would notify all users in the
reading room, and, if necessary, use an isolated study room for that
client, one that could be cleaned down thoroughly after the fact,
perhaps with a HEPA filtered air purifier to remove as much dander
as possible (our air handling system has filters in place, but I
don't really trust them).  I suspect our biggest problem would be
ensuring that everyone left the dog alone, since we seem to be a
colony of animal lovers.

I am very interested in hearing what, if any, measures have been
employed at other institutions.  My own opinion is that creatures
with opposable thumbs pose a greater risk to our collections than
any other life form!

Alison Freake
Access and Preservation Services
Provincial Archives of Alberta

                  Conservation DistList Instance 25:38
                 Distributed: Monday, February 20, 2012
                       Message Id: cdl-25-38-007
Received on Monday, 13 February, 2012

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