As a service dog handler in the sciences, Joey faced many obstacles and barriers that were overcome through communication, determination, and problem-solving. She is a solution-finder and a person that sees the possible in the impossible. During her years of education in Biocognitive Neuroscience at the University of Illinois (UIUC), Joey helped to establish new service dog policies in multiple colleges, including chemistry and biology laboratories. Her service dog, Theo, was the first service dog in the 150-year history of UIUC to be granted access to a chemistry laboratory. After Theo’s retirement, her second service dog Sampson became the first service dog to be granted access to a Molecular and Cellular Biology laboratory and a Genetics Laboratory. They made history by being the first service dog team to become members of a Biosecurity Security Level 2 (BSL2) behavioral neuroscience research laboratory. Joey developed a safety protocol and identified personal protective equipment (PPE) that met all OSHA safety requirements for her service dogs. Her work has been recognized globally and endorsed by the American Chemical Society for Students with Disabilities, the American Society for Microbiology, the National Association of Scientific Materials Managers, and the ASM Guidelines for Biosafety in Teaching Laboratories.
Throughout history, service dogs have provided an invaluable service to people with disabilities. A wide range of simple accommodations has emerged in recent years to assist students with disabilities in the chemistry, physics, or biology laboratory. These same strategies can be explored and implemented to include service dog handlers. Individualized risk assessment needs to be a collaborative effort between the service dog handler, who understands their dog's training and capabilities, the safety administrators, who understand the chemical, equipment, and biohazard concerns; and the Office for Disability Services, who understand the accommodation and accessibility options. As an informed consultant, Joey is able to weigh each perspective and develop short and long-term solutions.
Working as an individual mentor to people with PTSD, brain injury, people with trauma backgrounds, and service dog handlers, Joey has helped to develop management toolboxes that assist them in moving through academics and transitioning into careers. She has worked with veterans who are transitioning into college and non-traditional students who are returning to college after trauma. She volunteers her time to speak to mental health organizations like the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI). Her focus is on making a positive difference in the lives of others. She strongly believes that understanding and diversity are what make the academic and scientific community great, and although a lot of progress has been made, there is still a lot that needs to be done to ensure this.
Our individualized consulting process is designed to empower and outfit you with a managment toolbox. Talk to us today about how we can support your growth, and put you on a solid track to success.