Animals in halls: it’s a dogfight

Animal House returns

I’ve written before here about the growth in animal involvement in student support in universities. From the idea of puppy rooms to ease student exam stress through to support dogs in libraries.

Aww

What hasn’t really made an impact in the UK (yet?) is the idea that an ‘emotional support animal’ is a necessity for some students. Most university halls simply do not permit pets of any kind. But if we end up in the same position as the US where animal support becomes a legal entitlement then things might get a bit tricky on campus as the Washington Post reports.

This ruling in the US means that it could be discriminatory not to allow pets in university accommodation:

“Emotional support dogs” will now be allowed in student housing at Kent State University, which has settled a civil rights lawsuit brought by the U.S. Justice Department claiming the school discriminated against students with psychological disabilities.

Banning pets for all students, the 2014 lawsuit alleged, could violate federal law prohibiting discrimination in housing.

The piece quotes Allan Blattner, president of the executive board of the Association of College & University Housing Officers, who clearly has an interest:

End this cruel ban on horses in halls.
End this cruel ban on horses in halls.

But in recent years, he said, most colleges have moved toward accommodating not just “service animals” such as dogs that help guide blind people, but those intended to help people emotionally.Sure, some people may question the need for some of these animals as they pop up in dorms, on planes or, as in this silly video from the New Yorker, at the Plaza Hotel, and see them as a ridiculous symbol of coddling and entitlement.

But advocates argue that specially trained animals are a relatively easy and common-sense way to calm and soothe someone diagnosed with anxiety, for example.

It does seem to be the case that animals can help in this way. But does that mean they have to be present in student accommodation?

And if this ruling gets translated to the UK before you know it we’ll have dogs, cats, ferrets, ponies and llamas in halls…

6 responses to “Animals in halls: it’s a dogfight

  1. How would this work in Halls where a student has phobias about dogs etc, could lead to an interesting counter claim based in the phobic students psychological welfare

  2. Really good point. You could end up with halls stuffed full of (live) animals and those without I guess.

  3. If students or staff have these emotional support pets, who will be responsible, legally, for their emotional enrichment, as required by Home Office legislations for all animals used in universities? and would University Site Certificate holders become responsible for ensuring that these emotional support pets were not subjected to any form of emotional or physical cruelty, too. The Home Office folks would just love the thought of deciding what is emotional and cultural enrichment for goldfish, or prawns for that matter.

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