Guinea pig cleared to "room" with Mich. college student for emotional support (for the student)
Kendra Velzen sued last year, saying the school was violating federal housing rules. The 28-year-old, who has chronic depression and uses a pacemaker, said the guinea pig helped her cope with physical and emotional challenges. According to CBS Detroit, the lawsuit said the school initially told her she couldn't keep the animal in her dorm room, but then backed off a bit and let Velzen have a guinea pig while a complaint was pending with the Michigan Civil Rights Department.
Velzen and the Fair Housing Center of West Michigan, which supported her efforts, agreed to dismiss the lawsuit last month. As part of the settlement, the school plans to work with the center on a policy for accommodating support animals in on-campus housing.
Cathy Klotz, executive director of Intermountain Therapy Animals, said there's an important difference between therapy animals - which provide emotional support - and service animals, which are used for essential functions like sight or alerting their companion to an oncoming seizure.
"You can bring them in to see patients or school classrooms, but as a service animal? I've never heard of it," Klotz said. "That doesn't mean it can't happen."
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