Michigan school claims student was not denied right to keep guinea pig in dorm

Published April 05, 2012

| FoxNews.com

A Michigan college is denying it tried to prevent a student from keeping a guinea pig in her dorm room -- a "security" rodent the student reportedly was filing a lawsuit to keep.

A school official at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Mich., told FoxNews.com that the college granted Kendra Velzen, 28, permission to live with the animal in October. 

Matt McLogan, vice president for university relations, said he could not comment on any pending legal action because the university has not received a lawsuit. 

Local media outlets reported Thursday that Velzen is suing the school for the right to keep the pig in her dorm room, claiming she needs the animal for emotional support. The Detroit Free Press reported that the complaint is being filed with the Michigan Civil Rights Department.  

According to the newspaper, Velzen, who suffers from a heart problem and depression, says her guinea pig, named "Blanca," is needed to help her cope with her medical conditions. She reportedly presented a letter from her medical provider to the university in August, and argued that the pig is a service animal needed to help her with her disabilities.  

But McLogan claims Velzen was never told she could not keep the animal in her dorm room.

"Our housing contract stipulates that only service animals are permitted. Ms. Velzen asked the university to make an exception in her case, and we did so," McLogan told FoxNews.com. 

"Her pet has been authorized for campus housing since October 2011. In allowing this exception to our rule about pets, we requested that Ms. Velzen follow common-sense precaution by keeping the rodent in her room and that she not take it with her to class, the dining hall, or other common areas of the campus.

Velzen could not be reached by phone Thursday. School officials said the guinea pig may have since died, but the report is not confirmed.

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http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/04/05/student-sues-university-to-keep-guinea-pig-in-dorm/