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Are pets good for Ohio Northern's campus?

ONU student Alex Gesler with her emotional support dog, Bentley (Northern review photo/ Alex Gesler)

ONU student Alex Gesler with her emotional support dog, Bentley (Northern review photo/ Alex Gesler)

Discussions on whether or not pets on campus are positive has been continuing for years. It is hard for students on campus to from a distinct difference between service animals and pets on campus. The two have very different jobs when on college campuses, but it can be hard to decide if they are service animals or someone's pet.

Service animals are seen as tools to help support those who are disabled, and to the organizations working with these animals they are not seen as pets.

Justin Courtney, residence life director and advisor for Polar Paws, talks about his stance on having pets versus service animals on campus. 

“When you think about the root of the definition of service animals, you get an animal that supports or helps a student in a time of need," he said. "I think it is something that is really positive.”

Courtney believes that it is important to value people over stuff. Having service animals on campus comes with the possibility that material objects can become ruined or accidents can occur in unfortunate places, but Courtney thinks it is more important that students are in a healthy mindset.

“What if someone can’t be here without that service animal?” Courtney said.

Emotional support animals have also become a major trend on college campuses. Ohio Northern is currently reviewing what can qualify as an emotional support animal and the specific documents needed to own an emotional support animal.

Tracy Harris is the Student Disability Coordinator at Ohio Northern who works directly to review the needs of the student and how the emotional support animal or service animal is best supporting this student.

Courtney felt that it was important among all other things that all members of our community respect each other.

Courtney said, “We have to understand, with service animals, that it may make other people uncomfortable. We have to take everyone into consideration; some people have a fear of these animals.”

He said people need to be courteous of an animal's specific needs and the responsibilities attached to them.

On Ohio Northern’s campus, service animals and emotional support animals will be welcomed in the student community as long as they continue to help the student body as a whole.