A guinea pig lawsuit has paid a Grand Valley State University student handsomely. On March 11, Huffington Post reported that Kendra Velzen, 28, sued the school and won, getting to keep her guinea pig on campus if she chooses and getting some cash.
Last year, Velzen was told that she was not allowed to keep her "emotional support animal" (the guinea pig) with her in her dorm and in common areas on campus because the animal was not a "service dogs" or "non-predatory fish." Velzen, however, suffers from "chronic depression" and she has a pacemaker. Her attorney felt as though his client should have been able to keep her pet under the Fair Housing Act at the school.
The guinea pig lawsuit ended mainly because the school didn't want to spend more money in court. The school gave Velzen $40,000 and said that if she ever reapplied for student housing and made a request to have her guinea pig live with her, the school would be okay with it. "Support Animals" are pets that are generally covered under the "Fair Housing Act," which is likely why the school has backed down.
"Should Kendra Velzen ever reapply for on-campus housing and make an accommodation request to live with a guinea pig or animal of similar size and nature, Grand Valley will grant said request," the school said in a statement.
The guinea pig lawsuit may lead to more positive things now that it is over. The school and Velzen are working with the Fair Housing Center of West Michigan. They hope to develop a policy at the University that will accommodate "support animals" in the future.
© Effie Orfanides 2013