This is an excerpt from my extensively detailed Bringing a Service Dog to Treatment master post.
Having a service dog is like having a toddler. And, just like with a toddler, having a service dog typically involves carrying around a bag of supplies just for the dog. This is where I introduce our “Diaper Bag”.
The diaper bag contained everything for my service dog that I would not be allowed to have with me in my bedroom at treatment due to contraband rules or safety restrictions (sharps, ligatures, etc.). But, these are things that I need multiple times on a daily basis for my service dog and cannot be locked up because of this frequency. So, I got myself an actual diaper bag and loaded it up with everything we would need that would be kept at the nurse’s station in a secure location.
Some of the things kept in the diaper bag were:
- poop bags
- eating disorder facilities do not allow patients to have plastic bags or containers
- psychiatric facilities in general could consider plastic bags a safety risk for suicidal patients
- cans of dog food (sharp metal)
- be sure to pack wet food that doesn’t need a can opener
- dog food in general
- unsealed kibble is a hazard because contraband could be hidden in the kibble
- a patient (even the handler) could potentially choose to eat the dog food, thus, a safety hazard
- sometimes dogs need human food and eating disorder patients are not allowed to have access to food that is not on their meal plans
- dog food bowl (container)
- metal grooming supplies (sharp)
- metal tooth combs and brushes, nail clippers, etc.
- I highly recommend bringing some grooming supplies that aren’t contraband to keep on hand in your room for daily touch-ups (Kong Zoom Groom is terrific). It’s just easier sometimes, especially if the mood strikes you in the middle of the night to brush your dog.
- doggy first aid kit
- pretty much everything in a first aid kit will be considered contraband in a psychiatric facility
- we used our first aid kit several times
- I highly recommend having one for your service dog as the facility will not be able to distribute medications or supplies to the dog
- however, the facility did provide hydrogen peroxide for an injury my dog sustained because I needed a lot to clean a wound (they were not obligated to do this in any way and it was merely an inexpensive favor). I was closely supervised during this.
- collars and leashes (ligatures, metal)
- charger for an e-collar (ligatures)
- a favorite dog toy that might be considered contraband (ligatures, stuffed animal)
- some facilities might not permit cloth toys due to sanitization issues
- some toys *could* be used as a weapon
- some toys could be used for self harm in various ways
- stuffed animals can be used for smuggling contraband
If I think of anything else we had kept in the diaper bag, I’ll add it in.
I had no problems at all at Renfrew asking for the items and dog food in our diaper bag. It was usually easy for staff to access and I could ask any clerc, counselor, or nurse to grab something for me.