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Animals in School

General Provisions

Subject to the 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.

  • No individual shall be permitted to mistreat an animal.
  • 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.
  • The classroom Teacher and school Principal shall know the source and history of any animal brought into the classroom and school.
  • Domestic rodents, if entirely cage raised, may be used in schools. This group includes: gerbils, guinea pigs, tame mice, tame rabbits, and white rats.
  • 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.
  • Monkeys shall not be brought into school. Monkeys can carry human diseases (e.g., tuberculosis, infectious hepatitis) and infect human beings.
  • Turtles shall not be brought into the classroom unless they were previously certified to be free of salmonella infection.
  • Experienced speakers, using reasonable precautions, may be allowed to make presentations with their animals. 
  • Pets shall not be brought in by teachers, administrators, other staff members or students.
  • Horses shall not be permitted on school grounds, this includes pony rides.

 If in doubt about the advisability of bringing a particular animal to school, contact APS Risk Management.

Cage or Appropriate Enclosure

All animals shall be humanely treated. When animals which have met the above criteria are kept at school, the following procedures shall be followed:

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

Feeding and Watering 

  • A responsible adult shall monitor the feeding of animals.
  • Regardless of the type of food that is fed, it shall be fresh. Uneaten food spoils rapidly and shall be removed daily.
  • Force feeding the animal shall be prohibited.
  • The size, type, and location of the water container shall be carefully considered. A sufficient, fresh supply of water shall be available at all times.

Service Animals

Service animals may be used in school environments and for off-campus school activities.  

Students seeking to use service animals should, in conjunction with the APS Office of Equity or Special Education Department, or 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 employees must work through the ADA Risk Management Office to develop and plan and identify reasonable accommodations relating to use of a service animal. 

Albuquerque Public Schools staff shall adhere to the following guidelines when interacting with service animals of any individual on APS property:

  • A service animal shall not be required to be wearing any type of identifying clothing or tags.
  • Staff may require verification that the immunization records are up to date.
  • Staff shall not ask about the nature or extent of a person’s disability, but may make two inquiries to determine whether an animal qualifies as a service animal.  Those inquiries shall be limited to the following questions:
    • Is the animal required because of a disability?
    • What work or task is the animal trained to perform? (A “yes” to the 1st and a simple explanation to the 2nd is enough.)
  • Staff shall not require documentation or proof that the animal is a service animal.  The U.S. Department of Justice Office for Civil Rights has published guidelines that prohibit staff from asking any additional questions or requiring proof of training.
  • APS may disallow access to a service animal on campus if, and only if:
    • The animal is out of control and the animal’s handler does not take effective action to control it; or
    • The animal is not housebroken.
  • The animal shall be under the control of its handler.  In most cases this means a harness, leash, or other tether. There are some exceptions.
  • A service animal shall not include pets, emotional support animals, comfort animals or therapy animals, which do not perform task(s) related to an individual’s disability.

The revised “Service Animal Act” prohibits a person from misrepresenting an animal as a Service Animal and provides penalties.

Animal Bites

In the case of an animal bite, the school nurse shall be contacted immediately.  The school nurse shall follow appropriate procedures as outlined in the “Medical Care of Students: General and Emergency” and the School Nurse Manual to care for the injury.

Administrative Position:       

  • Chief of Schools
  • Chief of Human Resources and Legal Support Services
  • Assistant Superintendent of Equity and Support

Department Director:                      

  • Senior Director of Risk Management
  • Equal Opportunity Services
  • Manager of Nursing Services


Legal Cross Ref.:                           Service Animal Act

Board Policy Cross Ref.:               
EB Safety
JL – Student and Staff Wellness and Welfare

Procedural Directive Cross Ref.:  

NSBA/NEPN Classification:   IMG

Revised: May 1995
Revised: April 1996
Revised: May 1997
Revised: April 2000
Revised: March 2007
Reviewed: January 14, 2015
Reviewed:  January 5, 2023
Revised:  January 20, 2023