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Animals in School - March 2007 Revision

Notice: This policy was reviewed, revised, and/or renamed. We provide this revision for historic purposes only. Please see our current policies and procedural directives.


Subject to guidelines below, animals may be brought to classrooms only if they serve a direct instructional purpose and if the animal can be cared for in a humane manner.

  1. No child should be allowed to mistreat an animal.
  2. If any child is allergic to specific animals present in an assigned classroom, the school shall accommodate the child’s need to learn in a safe environment. Alternatives may include transfer to another classroom, removal of the animal causing the allergy, or other effective alternatives.
  3. The source and history of any animal brought into the school should be known.
  4. Domestic rodents, if entirely cage raised, may be used in schools. This group includes the following: gerbils, guinea pigs, tame mice, tame rabbits, and white rats.
  5. Mammals obtained from the wild shall not be brought into schools for any purpose. Note: Skunks, bats, and raccoons are particularly dangerous because they are frequent carriers of rabies.
  6. Monkeys should not be brought into school. Monkeys can carry human diseases (e.g., tuberculosis, infectious hepatitis) and infect human beings.
  7. Turtles shall not be brought into the classroom unless they were previously certified to be free of salmonella infection.
  8. Experienced speakers, using reasonable precautions, may be allowed to make presentations with their animals. 
  9. Service animals may be used in school environments and for off-campus school activities.  APS employees and students seeking to use service animals should, in conjunction with APS, develop a Section 504 plan or Individual Education Plan, as appropriate, to identify needed reasonable accommodations and other issues relating to use of a service animal.  APS may disallow access to a service animal if the animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others, which may include the absence of all required vaccinations or an absence of appropriate training of the service animal.  APS may disallow access of a service animal if the service animal substantially disrupts the educational process or school activity.
  10. In order to use service animals, prior approval must be obtained from the appropriate site administrator. Documentation must be provided indicating that the service animal has (a) received all required vaccinations and (b) successfully completed appropriate training.
  11. Pets should not be brought in by teachers, other staff members, or students.
  12. Horses are not permitted on school grounds, this includes pony rides.
  13. If in doubt about the advisability of bringing a particular animal to school, contact APS Risk Management.

Cage or Appropriate Enclosure

An animal must be humanely treated. When animals which have met the above criteria are kept at school, the following procedures must be ensured:

  1. The size of the cage or enclosure should correspond to the animal’s habits and ensure enough space to exercise and have proper ventilation.
  2. The cage or enclosure should be free of unnecessary objects that could cause injury to the animal.
  3. The cage or enclosure should be secure in order to prevent escape or unsupervised handling.

Feeding and Watering

  1. A responsible adult should monitor the feeding of animals.
  2. Regardless of the type of food that is fed, it should be fresh. Uneaten food spoils rapidly and should be removed daily.
  3. Do not force feed any animal.
  4. The size, type, and location of the water container should be carefully considered. A sufficient, fresh supply of water should be available at all times.

Animal Bites

The following New Mexico School Emergency Procedures will be followed when a student or staff member is bitten by any animal at school.

  1. The school nurse will be informed and consulted.
  2. If the local school nurse is not available, the district School Nurse Office will be consulted by telephone.

The nurse or person acting in his/her stead should carry out the following procedures:

  1. Cleanse all wounds thoroughly with soap and water. Rinse well. Cover with dry, sterile dressing.
  2. Check student’s cumulative folder for record of last tetanus immunization.
  3. Notify parents of student and suggest consultation with a physician regarding treatment and overall circumstances of the incident. Discuss need for tetanus immunization if indicated.
  4. Notify the owner of the offending animal regarding the incident and let him know that he will be contacted by the Animal Control Center.
  5. Confine the offending animal for observation until its final disposition is approved by the appropriate authorities. Do not kill the animal.
  6. Notify the local Animal Control Center (768-1975) regarding all bites inflicted by animals at school and follow any procedures recommended by Center officials.
  7. Fill out an APS accident report (INS-13).

Cross Ref.: Board Policy E.01: Safety

NSBA/NEPN Classification: IMG

Revised: May 1995
Revised: April 1996
Revised: May 1997
Revised: April 2000
Revised: March 2007