- Category: Volume 88 (Fall 2016 - Spring 2017)
- Published: 09 November 2016
- Written by LAUREN NIESZ | OPINION EDITOR
The use of service dogs in educational institutions has recently been under attack. A service dog, according to the Americans with Disability Act, is “any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.”
Service dogs are usually thought of just for those with impaired vision of sorts, but they serve many more purposes than that. They can help with mental disabilities by keeping their human companions with severe anxiety, or other mental disabilities, calm and at ease.
Furthermore, some service dogs also aid in the detection of seizures in their human counterparts, which is a sensory skill that humans are incapable of.
Service dogs are very useful and quite essential in many humans’ lives. A venue in which service dogs are especially necessary is at a school or university. For students who attend school every day, a service dog is extremely beneficial. That’s why when the recent case of a girl who was denied the use of her service dog in school was sent to the U.S. Supreme Court, it was a mind-boggling concept for many.
While there are many concerns for service dogs in schools such as allergies and other students’ fears, schools should not be allowed to deny a student services that aid in the disability of a student. This recent case leads many to ponder the thought of service dog acceptance.
Jaime Kretsch, specialist professor and Department Chair of Computer Science and Software Engineering and proud Seeing Eye dog raiser, said, “Anyone bringing a service dog anywhere, regardless of whether it is a school or not, needs to feel that they and their dog will be allowed to function as the team that they are.”
Kretsch further stated, “Part of the process for approval as a service dog evaluates the dog’s behavior with people and other animals. [...] administrators can be confident that the dog will be fine around its students; it might be necessary for the students who are fearful to make choices that keep them away from the animal they are concerned about.”
Here at Monmouth, it seems as though service dogs are accepted with open arms. Senior English student, Raven Culver, said, “I think that Monmouth is very accepting of service animals. My four years here I have seen multiple people with service animals and people who have them need them for a reason, be it physical or emotional.”
Culver stated, however, “They do need to keep other kids' allergies in mind, but people with service animals do need to get an education too, and they have the right to have the service dogs for a reason.”
Kretsch also commented on the openness of Monmouth’s campus to service dogs: “Monmouth University has had students with service animals throughout my time here, and we currently have several students with different types of service dogs.”
Senior English student Meaghan Gotto had the same sentiments that Culver did. She said, “I think service dogs should be accepted at any school in general. Service dogs have a way of finding certain individuals who are in need and support them no matter what.”
It seems as though the students at Monmouth aren’t only accepting of service dogs, but are encouraging of them. As Gotto and Culver pointed out, there is a true purpose for these animals. It is not just a student bringing his/her dog to campus for fun—these animals are working. This is their job, and by denying students this right, it would be a serious disservice not only to the human companion, but to the animal as well.
Callie VanWallendael, a student of Monmouth who has a seeing eye dog on campus, Misty, said of the acceptance on campus of her and guide dog, “Misty is my seeing eye dog and she has been received very well at Monmouth. I feel like the students at Monmouth are much more accepting of her than some other places I have been.” She continued, “The faculty and administration have treated us well.”
Thankfully, Monmouth students are lucky enough to be on an accepting and understanding campus. Unfortunately, it is not like this everywhere and this Supreme Court case should solve the issue and allow service dogs to do their duties and give unconditional love and aid to their human counterparts.
IMAGE TAKEN from USNews.com