Service Dogs: Too Distracting for the Classroom?

service dog and boy
Image via Flickr/San Jose Library

Even as a part of the tech generation I can see how technology has definitely started to be a distraction to learning. I’ve grown up with the presence of cell phones and screens at home and in school. And though we are aware that students are getting more distracted than ever in the classroom by the blitz of technology, most of us wouldn’t put service dogs at the top of the distraction hit list.

Many kids already have to cope with the effects of society-inflicted environmental distractions … so adding another mountain to climb is perhaps not ideal.

Apparently district officials in Henrietta, New York are working from a different list, as they recently banned 11-year-old Madyson Siragusa from bringing her blood sugar-detecting service dog to school with her. According to this article, they determined that Madyson’s specially trained dog, Duke, may negatively affect the attention, peace, and allergies of other children, and therefore wouldn’t be welcome at Roth Middle School.

Being an adult with a slight dog phobia myself, I can see one side of where they’re coming from. Dogs can be scary. And even if they aren’t, being in class with a furry, possibly adorable four-legged canine probably isn’t entirely conducive to the learning of young minds. Many kids already have to cope with the effects of society-inflicted environmental distractions (remember that technology I was talking about earlier?), so adding another mountain to climb is perhaps not ideal.

But this then begs the question of how much hope we can really have for the rising generation if their ability to gain knowledge is that hindered by the presence of one dog? When they one day enter the “real world” as got-it-completely-together adults, our kids will have to face all sorts of distractions. Wouldn’t it be better to teach them to maintain focus now? And if a diabetic 11-year-old can be safeguarded in the process, what is there to lose?

Right now, these questions remain unanswered. Without the assistance of her $20,000 doggy helper, Madyson is being provided with 10 hours of home tutoring per week, while her parents are working to prove to the district that Duke is medically necessary enough to attend school with her.

{ MORE:  Dog Saves Boy From Abusive Babysitter }

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What do you think – would you feel comfortable with your child being taught with a service dog present? Or would you fear for the attention span and/or wellbeing of young students?

What do you think?

Service Dogs: Too Distracting for the Classroom?

Samantha Shelley is a student of Communication and Advertising at BYU-Idaho, who also works as a copywriter for Soapbox Agency. She is an avid promoter of happiness, being active, and Taylor Swift. In her spare time she enjoys singing, playing guitar, dancing, building ponds, and watching videos of kittens doing adorable things. Though currently 21 and unmarried, Samantha plans to one day have a family big enough to sing in at least 8-part harmonies. She would also like her children to continue ... More

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1 comment

  1. pumpkin says:

    my concerns would be yes an animal would be a great distraction in the classroom, but guess what… so is almost everything! kids will doodle on their books, write and pass notes… they will do almost anything else but pay attention, a dog may make it worse, but it wont be the only distraction. my other concern would be sure a child can be told they may not pet that animal because they have a job to do, but kids will be kids and will want to pet animals. i think with the kids being 11 in this case it isnt so much an issue, but it may be an issue in younger kids if a situation like this arises again. but in my opinion both of those reasons are not good enough to potentially put an 11 year old girl’s life at risk.

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