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Therapy animals gain campus acceptance

August 2, 2016

University Business
By Stefanie Botelho

Pets can help students cope with stress, depression and other mental disorders. But until recently, this well-documented remedy did not guarantee a space for therapy animals on campus.

Lawsuits brought by students at Kent State University (settlement proposed in 2016) and The University of Nebraska at Kearney (settled in 2015) help to define how colleges should accommodate therapy animals that a professional has determined a student needs.

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A campus counselor, physician’s assistant, social worker or psychologist can all verify a student’s need to keep a therapy animal in their living space, says Catherine Gillespie, partner with Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads LLP, who specializes in higher education law.

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“Ultimately, it is easier to have therapy animals on campus than to fund lawsuits brought by students requesting housing for these animals,” says Gillespie.

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