Student Sues University to Keep Guinea Pig for Emotional Support

Kendra Velzen's BlancaImage courtesy of WOOD Channel 8

There is little known about Blanca but Grand Rapids WOOD Channel 8 posted this photo of a guinea pig seen on Kendra Velzen's Facebook page. It appears to be in a Marchioro cage with hay bedding with a toilet paper tube as a chew toy.

A Grand Valley State University student is filing a lawsuit against her school claiming they violated federal housing policy by not letting her keep guinea pig, Blanca, in campus housing.

28 year old Kendra Velzen, suffers from bouts of severe depression and a heart condition but found “emotional support” in her pet guinea pig. The school doesn’t believe her claim that Blanca is a service pet and wants to restrict all residents to non-predatory fish and service dogs in their dorm rooms as stated in campus housing policy.

The Fair Housing Act, however, doesn’t have a restriction on what type of animal or cite necessary training for consideration as a therapy pet or service animal. Velzen’s attorney, Stephen Dane, claims the school should have made an exception for Blanca.

Velzen claims to have filed a lawsuit against the school and a complaint with the Michigan Civil Rights Department although the AP reports the university has not yet received the lawsuit. The Fair Housing Center of West Michigan is assisting Velzen.

Officials from GVSU told the Grand Rapids Press that they never told Velzen she could not keep Blanca and instead offered a compromise. Velzen’s Blanco would be limited to the dorm room and could not enter common areas, class, or food-service areas. Velzen’s attorney said negotiations were unclear and have since stalled.

Dane told the Press, “The university has never said, ‘OK, you may have your guinea pig, no conditions… They haven’t given her any unconditional permission to have her guinea pig. She’s in limbo.”

Although Blanca was kept in Velzen’s dorm room the pervious year, the guinea pig has since died. There is no information at this time as to whether Kendra Velzen will pursue this further.

Coed sues to keep guinea pig in dorm: woodtv.com


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Angela, Editor-in-Chief, GPT

Angela founded Guinea Pig Today and guest writes for CavyMadness. She volunteers with Metropolitan Guinea Pig Rescue and supports the ROUS Foundation. Her guinea pig, Papua, is the star of WHEK-TV/DT.

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