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In an email sent to all the department chairs, Raj Sharma, director of Accessibility Services, answered several basic questions about service animals, such as, “What is a Service Animal?”
“A service animal is defined as a dog [or other animal] that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability. This is different than an emotional support [or therapy] animal.” Sharma said in the email.
A service animal can be any breed of dog or horse, according to school policy.
Another question may be: what is the difference between a service animal and a therapy animal? According to Ammon Cheney, one of UVU’s mental health therapists, “Any psychological disorder that impairs the client’s ability to perform activities of daily living may be eligible for a service dog. A client with PTSD may have an animal trained to identify and respond with a certain signal in response to stress triggers in the environment or in the client’s behavior.”
These animals are allowed on campus on a case-by-case basis
and must have proper certification, which the owner may be asked to present. Cheney also said he has never prescribed a therapy animal, so it may be less practiced than it seems.
Megan Cullen, a junior studying behavioral science, offered information about her service dog, Nike. He is a 2-year-old German Shepherd who was trained by Ty the Dog Guy, a dog training company based in Salt Lake City. Nike is Cullen’s hearing alert and PTSD animal.
“Nike has saved my life,” Cullen said. “…I mean it with a greater understanding than can ever be expressed. From him guiding me through the noise I cannot hear and helping me get out of bed and live one more day when I feel that PTSD will get to the best of me, he saves me. He is my hero and … I owe everything to Nike.”
For more information about UVU’s service animal policy feel free to look at the official verbiage here. This policy discusses certification and punishment for failing to adhere to guidelines. Other questions can be directed to local training companies or physicians.
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Photographer, @Meghan_De.Haas on Instagram