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Kendra Velzen Sues Grand Valley State University To Keep Guinea Pig In Her Dorm

The Huffington Post  |  By Posted: 04/ 3/2012 10:49 am Updated: 04/ 4/2012 8:32 am

A student at Grand Valley State University in Michigan believes the school violated federal housing policy by not letting her keep Blanca, a pet guinea pig, in her dorm.

Kendra Velzen, a 28-year-old GVSU student who reportedly battles a heart condition and severe depression, wanted to keep a pet guinea pig in her dorm as an "emotional support animal." However, campus housing rules say students can only keep non-predatory fish and service dogs in their dorm rooms.

Under the Fair Housing Act, the school should've made an exception for Velzen's Blanca, her attorney Stephen Dane claims.

Velzen has now filed a lawsuit against the school and a complaint with the Michigan Civil Rights Department. The Fair Housing Center of West Michigan is assisting Velzen.

GVSU officials told the Grand Rapids Press that they never told Velzen she could not keep Blanca; instead they offered a compromise. She could own the guinea pig but she could not take it to common areas, class or to food-service areas. Velzen's attorney said those restrictions were not acceptable.

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

Negotiations have stalled between Velzen and GVSU. Blanca has since died.

The AP reports the university has not yet received the lawsuit.

A student at the University of Nebraska at Kearney made a similar argument in 2011 to keep a small dog as an "emotional support animal" in their university apartment.

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