Schools Training

Kent State University Joins Trend of Allowing Therapy Dogs in Residence

11 JAN 2016
Career Path : Education News
Woman with her pet chihuahua

An Ohio court settlement today calls for Kent State University to settle a fair housing lawsuit with a payout of $145,000 and a reworking of its “no-pets” policy. After being sued by Jaqueline Luke, a student who was refused the option to keep her therapy dog with her in campus housing, Kent has agreed to advocate for “reasonable accommodation” of therapy animals (also called ‘emotional support animals’) from now on.

Emotional support animals are different from guide dogs and service animals trained to support people with physical disabilities like visual impairment and mobility issues. Instead, these animals are used to stabilize and bring comfort to people who have psychological disabilities and mental wellness problems.

Near Kent State University at Ohio University and Ohio State College, emotional-support animals are already allowed to live on campus with their owners, as long as they have the right written statements from their therapists and well-behaved pets.

Ohio State residence coordinator Scott Lissner says the number of requests for therapy animals has risen in recent years. There are now paw prints in dorms across the United States, with Miami University having the most emotional-support animals on record (15, including a bearded dragon lizard).

Most requests for emotional–support animals come from students with clinical anxiety and/or depression, and most animals requested for consideration are cats and dogs.

Ohio State University student Kaely-Marie Clapper says her Chihuahua has become a significant source of comfort and calm since an incident three years ago caused her PTSD that nearly derailed her studies.

“If I didn’t have my dog, I wouldn’t be doing as well in school,” she explains. “I have this dog because I need her.”

Students like Kaely-Marie and Jacqueline can look forward to keeping their dogs with them throughout their time in residence, and for other students to face fewer barriers to emotional-support animal accommodations because of the precedent set by this historic ruling.

Source: The Columbus Dispatch