Court Decision May Allow Students to Bring Pets to School With them

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Pending the decision in a lawsuit filed by the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) against the University of Nebraska, students could be allowed to have their pets live with them in their dorm rooms.

On behalf of Brittany Hamilton, HUD sued the University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK) for not allowing her to have her dog live in her dorm room with her. Hamilton said she wanted her dog in her room to assist with her anxiety and depression.

HUD is suing on the grounds of a violation of Hamilton’s rights under the Fair Housing Act (FHA). The rule states that it is unlawful to deny dwelling to a person based on their “handicap.” It also states that eligible persons may accommodate a wide array of “assistance animals.”

“Assistance animals” go far beyond typical service animals (e.g., seeing-eye dogs) as they include animals that provide mental or emotional support.

UNK argues that their on-campus accommodations should not be considered a “dwelling” as defined by the FHA and because the housing is only temporary. UNK argued further that their accommodations are not for residential purposes, but rather for educational purposes.

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