Head Start staff will ensure that only “allowable” animals will be brought into the H.S. classroom and appropriate safety and sanitation procedures will be followed at all times.


  1. Head Start of Lane follows the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) best practice guidelines which states that the following pets be considered”allowable”: fish, guinea pigs, gerbils, domestic rabbits, hamsters, or mice. Because baby chicks, turtles, snakes, frogs and other reptiles can carry the salmonella bacteria in their feces they are not allowed in the classroom. (Parent resource related to baby chicks and salmonella)
    1. Insects and other invertebrates in the classroom will comply with Oregon Department of Agriculture regulations related to approved species.
  2. All pet cages will be cleaned/disinfected once a week by staff (latex gloves should be worn to protect staff). All food and water dishes should be removed before spraying cage with disinfectant (Alpha HP). Make sure that the animal is not put back into the cage until it has a chance to completely air dry.
  3. Children will only hold the animal(s) outside the cage. If an animal “potty accident” occurs the children must wash hands and clothing immediately. Only staff’s hands are to be inside the animal cage.
  4. Animals cannot roam the classroom freely without supervision.When they are out, they must be closely monitored to ensure that any accidents are cleaned up with disinfectant immediately.
  5. Animals must have appropriate sized cages. Rabbits, guinea pigs and other gerbils need room to explore and use their large muscles and it is also important for children to see adults model humane treatment of animals.
  6. Animals can visit the classroom under certain circumstances.
    1. A traveling pet show can visit a classroom if they are registered with U.S.D.A. However, special sanitation arrangements must be made if snakes and reptiles which can carry Salmonella bacteria are to be allowed in the classroom. The Regional Manager and Health / Safety Consultant will be utilized in the planning of such an event.
    2. Dogs and cats from children’s homes can only be brought in if they have no history of biting/scratching, have an updated rabies vaccination and children in the classroom who might be afraid are taken into consideration prior to allowing the pet
    3. Other animals with the exception of snakes, turtles and other reptiles can be brought in for sharing and for a limited time if they do not bite and hands are washed before and immediately after handling
  7. If an animal bites a child, follow appropriate first aid and accident reporting procedures and remove the animal from the classroom immediately. In order to avoid a bite, be sure to follow these guidelines:
    1. Talk about how to handle animals (or not to handle) prior to introducing the classroom pet
    2. Teach animal safety – Children need to be well supervised when handling animals. Sometimes children want to test limits with animals or they are unaware of how big and strong they are in comparison with a small animal. In either case, an over zealous squeeze or shake may lead to a painful bite.
    3. Staff and children’s hands must be washed prior to handling an animal. The smell of food may invite an animal to bite.

This policy complies with Head Start Performance Standard 45 CFR Section 1304.22.
It has been approved by Policy Council on October 17, 2000
Updated June 13, 2001. July 2013. February 2016