Big Dog On Campus

By Jenni Kraft
@jenniwithanik

Pepper Ann is my puppy that I got last summer as a “you survived a full academic calendar” present to myself! I am so lucky that my campus allows me to have a dog in residence with me! It took a while to pick her out, but when a co-worker sent me a picture of her, I fell in love! She was 7 weeks old when I got her and it has been so wonderful brining her up.

In the summer I did my very best to train her before all the students got back to campus (she was a pro). During the fall semester, I was able to bring her out to the outdoor programs we had and she became the Campus Activities Board (CAB) mascot(get it?!?!).

One of those fun conversations to have with students is answering the “you can have a dog on campus?!” question. Of course, like most all college campuses, the answer is no, you are not allowed to have a pet (besides a fish) inside the college halls or apartments. Unfortunately, not everyone listens and we find students with pets at least once a month. Well, now we are addressing the needs of students requesting an “Emotional Support Animal” (ESA) on campus with them. It was quite understandable to need a “service animal” to help with a specific disability (sight, food allergies, seizures, etc.) in which case the animal would be trained for that specific purpose. In the case of the ESA the need requires a more general definition: those animals that belong to a person who is emotionally or psychologically disabled (Fair Housing Act). This is what isreally string things up!

Since we have only recently permitted staff to have pets on campus, the development of how to respond to the requests of emotional support animals has truly sparked an intense conversation. For the students, the idea specifically caught on after one student learned about it and asked their doctor for permission and began the request process on campus. Now we are getting requests or word of students wanting to have an emotional support animal almost every week. Our student affairs directors and vice president are working on outlining the best solution as we are not permitted to decline a valid request. I’m interested to see where this will take housing and pets in the future. Check out this article I found on NASPA’s website:http://www.naspa.org/rpi/posts/reasonable-accommodations-the-debate-over-service-and-emotional-support-ani. Have any of you dealt with this situation? If so, how have ya’ll responded?

Until this is all cleared up, Pepper is still the Big Dog on Campus and the students love having her (and so do I)!

~Jenni with an “I”
@JenniwithaniK

Student Affairs - the First Years

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