When nut and pet allergies collide

I recently blogged about nut detection dogs, the medical alert dogs who are trained to sniff out nuts in both food and the air. Two stories have caught my eye in recent weeks, which highlight that nut allergy service dogs may not always be allowed into the environments where they are most needed.

Last week, KOMONews reported on a dispute in Ohio involving a school girl with autism and her special education teacher. The six-year-old has a service dog; her teacher has a dog allergy. As a result, the girl has been asked to change schools.

Earlier in the month, the Canadian Transportation Agency ordered Air Canada to do more to protect dog allergy sufferers. For planes using HEPA filters, provided the dog allergic passenger gives 48 hours notice of travel, Air Canada must ensure there is at least a five row buffer zone between the dog allergic passenger and any dogs (including service dogs) in the cabin. They must also ensure there is separation whilst boarding, leaving the aircraft and accessing washrooms. If a plane doesn’t have a HEPA filter, pet dogs will be banned from the cabin if there is a dog allergic passenger onboard. For service dogs, priority will be given to the passenger who booked their ticket first.

If a child is so sensitive to nuts that they need a service dog, you could well imagine that they would need the service dog’s help whilst in school or travelling by air. These two stories show that the dog may not be allowed into the classroom or on the plane, if someone else has a severe dog allergy.

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