A sign on the HSU library doors welcoming assistance dogs.

Put em’ in a cage they say!

HSU is banning animals from classrooms and there's something you can do about it.

By Phillip Santos

The HSU campus is not a zoo. After attending this university for almost four years I’m inclined to disagree with that statement for a variety of reasons, but those who carry that sentiment have made their voices heard. Last semester the HSU Senate passed a draft resolution banning all animals except service animals from campus buildings. Who does this policy affect? Everyone really, but three groups in particular.

The first group is made up of those who have certified service animals. Service animals go through a vigorous training regiment and are considered “working” animals who assist people with disabilities. Various examples include calming individuals with PTSD, alerting others if the owner is having a seizure, etc. Service animals are trained to perform a task specifically related to the disability the owner has.

Michelle Meyers with her seizure alert dog, ” Roody.”

The second group is made up of the people who have emotional support animals. There are a few distinct differences between emotional support animals and service animals, but I will only outline two. The first is that emotional support animals are intended to help treat persons with psychological and emotional disorders. Whether or not these qualify as legitimate disabilities is something that mainstream society continues to argue about. The second difference is that emotional support animals don’t go through a vigorous training program, they are essentially prescribed by a licensed medical professional as a way to ease the symptoms of the patient’s disorder.

Kimber Nguyen and her emotional support anima, “Duke.”

The third group is probably the largest of the three. These are the people who bring their pets to class because they can. When a dog jumps up onto a food surface in the Depot or leaves behind a steamy pile of excrement, these are the people that passerbys think of. Based on the comments made during the HSU Senate meeting when this resolution passed, this is the group that is being targeted by the new pet policy.

The problem with this policy is that it uses broad measures to target a specific group of people and in the process, causes substantial damage to students with real and pressing needs. These are the students who depend on emotional support animals to make it through a tough class, or to even get there in the first place. Companionship is a powerful thing that enables human beings to do incredible things, but it’s at times necessary to achieve the ordinary. Because sometimes the ordinary becomes the impossible, but an impossible that can be diminished by a familiar friend doing what any friend would do, which is to offer support.

This policy is also cruel towards the emotional support animals themselves. The policy mandates that emotional support animals be caged or kenneled while their owners are in class. Does anyone have class all day? Both the owner and the emotional support animal lose out in this arrangement. But this collateral damage is readily accepted in an environment where members of the HSU campus are tired of dealing with students who have abused the tolerance towards animals on campus.

One of the worst things about this policy is that it doesn’t have to be crafted this way. Emotional support animals can be allowed in classrooms, and they should be. But the easiest solution to the host of issues that animals on campus have created is the current version of this policy. Supposed “modest revisions” are being made, but I’m skeptical that will amount to more than the correction of a typo.

The other awful aspect of this policy is the lack of student input. During the HSU Senate meeting when this draft resolution passed, multiple Senate members expressed the need for student input to formulate a better pet policy. When it comes to this policy, it’s not that the HSU Senate isn’t listening, it’s that the student body isn’t talking. Don’t “sit down, be humble” stand up, don’t mumble!

Through a variety of voices and action, HSU students and staff have created amazing programs and initiatives to address a variety of issues and interests such as : Check It (a nationally renowned movement to eradicate sexual assault and violence), KRFH (a FM college radio station that reels in awards every year), and WRRAP ( a waste reduction program which has reduced waste by 50% since 1996!). There is no reason that animals on campus cannot be met with the same type of creative and effective measures, but there is an explanation as to why that isn’t happening – I’ll let you finish that thought.

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  1. Kelly M Kelly M Saturday, September 2, 2017

    I don’t agree that emotional support animals should be allowed in classes. They aren’t trained, or at least are not required to have any kind of training. Untrained animals in class would be disruptive to both the owner of the animal and all the other students. In addition, untrained animals pose a danger to highly trained service dogs – I know people with service dogs whose dogs have been attacked and injured by untrained dogs in public places where they don’t belong.

    Emotional support animals are not allowed in most places that don’t allow pets. You can’t take one to Walmart, the grocery store, the doctor’s office, on a city bus, to a move, to McDonald’s. You shouldn’t take one to class, either.

  2. rainbowspoonie rainbowspoonie Saturday, September 2, 2017

    As an HSU grad and a service dog handler, I’m thrilled that HSU is finally doing something about all of the untrained animals on campus. Maybe now I can visit campus with my SD and not worry about untrained pets on flexi leads coming after us.

    Oh, and certification is usually bogus. Certainly not required or recognized by the ADA. Read Q17.


  3. Ilana Ilana Saturday, September 2, 2017

    As an HSU grad and a service dog handler, I’m thrilled that HSU is finally doing something about all of the untrained animals on campus. Maybe now I can visit campus with my SD and not worry about untrained pets on flexi leads coming after us.

    Oh, and certification is usually bogus. Certainly not required or recognized by the ADA. Read Q17.


  4. Raven Raven Saturday, September 2, 2017

    According to the only law pertaining to Emotional Support Animals (HUD/FHAct), ESA’s ARE NOT permitted public access like the ADA protects for service animals and their disabled owners. So, no, they aren’t and shouldn’t be allowed in the classroom. They’re not highly trained and task trained to mitigate their handlers disability as service animals are for upwards of 2 years, they’re glorified pets with no special training which are granted two special accommodations, nothing more. They’re only legally granted special accommodation in housing and then flying in cabin on an airplane. That’s it. Anyone bringing them into class or into businesses that do not permit pets is breaking the rules or, more seriously, a law. If you have an emotional support animal, you need to learn the rules/ laws that apply to them.

    That being said, if you feel as if your emotional support animal being crated up in your dorm all day long is detrimental to their health or mental well being, maybe you need to consider that you shouldn’t have an emotional support animal at College then or get a different one like a hamster or a chinchilla which won’t be bothered being in a cage all day while you’re at class. Or you need to structure your classes so that you have time in between classes to be able to take them out to walk, go potty and exercise. Regardless, this is not the responsibility of the college to break the rules to allow students with emotional support animals to go to class with you just because they’ll be kenneled up all day long. The care and comfort of an emotional support animal falls upon the person whose emotional support animal it is. Not the school.

    Also, emotional support animals are only meant to be used by people with diagnosed mental disabilities (or a mental condition severe enough to be disabling). There’s no confusion about it like the article claims. You MUST be mentally disabled to legally have an emotional support animal and you MUST be disabled under ADA standards to legally have a service animal. That’s the law.

  5. Someone with a task-trained service animal. Someone with a task-trained service animal. Saturday, September 2, 2017

    It sounds like the school is aligning more closely with the Americans with Disabilities Act, that requires access for disabled handlers and their task-trained service dogs (which do NOT need to be certified, btw. Question 17 https://www.ada.gov/regs2010/service_animal_qa.html).

    Emotional Support Animals have a place and a benefit, but that shouldn’t be within the classroom – they don’t have public access in stores or at a workplace or anywhere else but housing. If a student needs constant assistance it would be more beneficial for them to have a service animal that can assist them in those places, otherwise they will have assistance in college and be left without anything once they graduate and get a job.

    As for crating – that’s a reasonable way for the university to make sure that their property isn’t getting damaged by an untrained animal, and ESAs require no training. Along with the dorm getting damaged, most people share a dorm and the dog getting into the other roommate’s things can cause big problems for everyone and give the university grounds to remove the animal. Dogs see their crate as a safe place and will probably spend the day sleeping while their person is in class. People work all day and crate their dogs, and nothing bad happens.

  6. Heidi Heidi Saturday, September 2, 2017

    The writer of this article needs to read up on the laws. Esa are pets use for a mental health plan and have no Public Access rights. That means they have to stay in the dorm room while the kids are in class. They can’t come in the classroom. Only service dogs have access because they have a task trained to mitigate an ADA disability and they’re safe to be in public.

  7. Elena. Elena. Sunday, September 3, 2017

    Emotional Support Animals do NOT have public access rights and are not supposed to be in the classroom. ESAs are meant for in home comfort only. Task Trained service dogs are the only ones allowed in classes. If your disability is so bad you can’t go to class without your dog, train it to be a service dog and mitigate your disability IF you meet the legal definition of disabled. Psychiatric Service Dogs are a thing. Also there is no certification for service dogs in the US. When my service dog (who mainly does psych work) was in her early stages of training, she stayed in her cage while I was in class. A dog should be comfortable in its cage for hours, if not, there needs to be a revision of crate training methods for that dog until they are. In this article it states ESAs can be allowed in classrooms. Under federal law, that is not true. Please review the ADA. This article is misinformed and wrong in several places. I have owned both ESAs and Service dogs, I know these laws inside and out and fought with my own school when they were wrong. But I had to wash two service dogs after they were attacked by untrained ESAs in places the ESAs had no right being in, so this is not something I will ignore. Your ESA does not belong in public. Read the laws.

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