By: Alexis Mitchell
This fall, the number of service dogs on campus at the University of Findlay is rising. Last year, there were only two service animals on campus while this year the number has already increased to six.
With a significant increase of service animals on campus, questions have been raised about how exactly the process of getting a service dog works.
Lori Colchagaff, Director of Disability Services, explains the order of the process.
“Legally there are only two questions I can ask,” says Colchagaff, “I can ask ‘is this a service dog,’ and ‘what tasks will this dog be doing.’”
There is a policy on the UF website in which students must sign an agreement. In this agreement, all of the University’s policies and guidelines about owning a service animal are listed. After a signed agreement is sent to Colchagaff, the prospective student will have a meeting with her to see if they meet the requirements.
“Unfortunately, some students do get turned down,” states Colchagaff.
Under the Fair Housing Act, students can also have an emotional support animal. Colchagaff thinks there has been an increase since it is the same process for obtaining a service dog. Overall, more students are stressed-out in college and feel the need for an emotional support animal.
Even though the process may seem long, the result is worth it for students with service animals.
Junior Alyssa Plack, a Western Equestrian major, has had her service dog Junior for over a year and a half now. She says that she would not trade the experience for the world.
“He makes me feel a lot less stressed,” says Plack, “I was overall tense. I just wasn’t myself, so it was the biggest relief of my life.”
It’s not all work and no play for Junior. Plack says that when the vest comes off it’s ball time! They also like to go on hikes together.
Plack wants to make clear, however, that when the vest is on, Junior is working. Her advice is to talk to her first, then ask her questions.
“I’m pretty open, I don’t mind if you ask me questions,” says Plack. She wants people to realize there is a person behind the animal, so just don’t go up and say hi to the animal first.
It is important for students on campus to know the policies of service animals so that they know how to act when they approach one. If you want to read more on service animals at the University of Findlay visit Findlay.edu.