As a diabetic I am thinking about getting a diabetes assist dog. I am an engineering student and will probably work 40h weeks.

If I had an officially recognised assist dog, how should I approach (future) employers about that? Should I talk to my current employer about the possibility before getting one? I have the feeling that it is hard to make an office dog happen if they are not already accepted. What would be a reasonable line of actions?

  • 6
    Have you considered your colleagues might not appreciate (or even be allergic to) dogs in the office?
    – Glorfindel
    Nov 21 '17 at 12:23
  • 4
    @Glorfindel I am quite aware of the problems a dog in the office could cause, so I'm asking what it would take to make it possible. In Germany there is no law that allows you to bring an assist dog everywhere you want, it's up to the facility owners etc.
    – Lehue
    Nov 21 '17 at 12:36
  • @alroc There are some people who use service animals to help manage diabetes, though it's not as common as for other diseases. They can smell chemical changes and alert the owner before an attack occurs. (Reference)
    – David K
    Nov 21 '17 at 13:40
  • 1
    @A.Hue, while there is no law in Germany that specifically mentions dogs the BGG mentions "behinderungsbedingt notwendige(r) Hilfsmittel". Insofar as your service dog is an assistive device (which would certainly the case with e.g. a seeing eye dog, and should be the case with any "officially recognised" service dog this should be covered by the Behindertengleichstellungsgesetz (just as a comment and not to answer your question - if you have to fight to get your dog approved your potential employer will probably find a legal reason not to hire you). Nov 27 '17 at 14:37
  • I'm not sure about Germany, but as an employer in the USA we have two types of assist animals: Dogs and miniature horses (!) for Service Animals, versus various animals for Companion Animals. In the US, I do not need to allow companion animals. Maybe there is a distinction like this in Germany?
    – Mikey
    Feb 22 '19 at 14:18

Get the necessary documentation from healthcare professionals and talk to them about your need to have an assistance dog at work.

Have this conversation before you speak with your employers.

Bear in mind that if you're demonstrably capable of managing your diabetes successfully, then you may not earn the right to be allocated an assistance dog.

  • 7
    One US employer gave a service dog I knew its own "employee" badge, complete with a photo. It was useful for dealing with new security guards, and made a clear distinction between the service dog and a pet. Nov 21 '17 at 14:54

Check with your healthcare provider and find out what the laws are in your area. My understanding is, in the US, there is no legal certification and just about anyone can get one. If someone brings a service dog into a public place, no one there is allowed to confront you about what medical illness or service the dog provides. Medical information is confidential by law. However, that doesn't mean if your dog is not well-behaved or interferes with someone else's health(allergy?), safety, or business function you could be asked to remove the animal. Service animals don't get a pass for biting people. Most are well-trained, so that's rarely an issue.

I don't recommend showing up one day with the dog. Talk to your employer about it. They could have concerns from their insurance company or their lawyers may have some requirements. If they rent office space, the building itself may have rules.

Be upfront about how you will control the animal. Is it practical for the animal to be with you at all times? Would you be required to take extra breaks or considerably longer breaks if there isn't a grassy area near by?

Of course someone is going to pose the question, what if everyone wants to bring their dog to work? They'll just have to deal with it. Life is messy.

  • 3
    This question is tagged Germany, so I don't think laws in the USA are relevant.
    – Kat
    Nov 25 '17 at 7:52
  • @Kat - I agree, but it does help to make questions and answers universal to help as many people as possible. The sole focus on answers shouldn't just be to help the OP. Otherwise, this is a legal question that should probably be closed.
    – user8365
    Dec 3 '17 at 15:52

First up, you will need to check on the status of a diabetes assist dog. It might have an official position, it might not. If it has, go with Snow's Answer. Just make sure you know your and the dogs rights, if any apply.

If dogs like a diabetes assist dog don't have official status. This might be reasonable approach to getting a (your) dog on the work floor. Any dog for that matter.

Option A:

Talk about it with your colleagues. That will give you an idea if people are for or against it. Mind that it takes only one person with an allergy to keep dogs out of the office. If it is not a working dog.

If everyone on the work floor is at least neutral on the subject, go talk about it with your boss. This order does not matter much, you need both on your side.

I'd say you have about 1 in 5 chance for a dog in the office. Probably less. Offices that have dogs, or allow them, do make the news.

Option B:

Work less hours and close to work. So you can own and properly care for a dog. Without the need to have him at work.

Option C:

Find an employer that allows dogs in the office.

Option D:

Work from home or create your own business.

*I am not up to date on the German laws on this, go it's a generic "get people on your side" thing.

  • 1
    An Assist dog is a working dog.
    – HLGEM
    Nov 21 '17 at 14:05
  • In some countries guide dogs and their owners have other rights then normal pets. Things like they cannot be denied service and such. But self trained dogs and their owners do not have the same rights. Nov 21 '17 at 14:16
  • 1
    The questions says " an officially recognised assist dog" that is not a pet.
    – HLGEM
    Nov 21 '17 at 14:18
  • then I should rephrase my answer, the question has changed quite a bit. Thanks for letting me know. Nov 21 '17 at 14:20
  • I didn't realize it had changed!
    – HLGEM
    Nov 21 '17 at 15:25

After the situation asked about in the question finally occurred, this is how I actually approached the topic:

First I did a lot of research regarding training of assist dogs and which kinds of dogs would be able to perform such tasks. I decided to only get a dog if the employer is ok with it, so the dog would not need to be alone during my workday.

When interviewing with my employers I jokingly said I would appreciate the possibility of bringing a diabetes service dog to the office. This led to interested questions from my employers about assist dogs, who were open to discuss this with the rest of the employees.

During a team meeting I then had the opportunity to make a little presentation about diabetes assist dogs and their value to diabetics. The team was amazed by the abilities these dogs have and were happy for me that such opportunities exist. All team members accepted the proposal to bring a dog in training for being a diabetes assist dog under the premise that we would only allow working animals and not "fun animals" in the office. The proposal included that I would get an older dog, not a puppy, of a reasonable size and cuteness (not to scare some collegues), that the dog is not allowed in the kitchen and other public spaces and that it is kept in my desk area and not allowed to roam the office freely. To accomodate to an allergic collegue it was requested that the dog should not hair (much), which narrows the number of possible breeds down to a few.

This solution is not based on any legal rights I might or might not have. I am just extremely lucky and this will probably not work for everyone. The decision simply stems from having a tolerant employer and nice collegues who are willing to allow me this opportunity. That being said, the employer has the right to change their mind anytime if something goes wrong e.g. a collegue reacts allergic or has a fear of dogs.

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