Kansas college student fights to keep ‘service dog in training’ on campus

WINFIELD, Kan. (KSNW) – A Kansas college student is fighting a Southwestern College school policy to keep her ‘service dog in training’ on campus.

“I’m really just angry and frustrated about it all,” said Casey Cargill.

Casey Cargill, a freshman at Southwestern College in Winfield, is a certified dog trainer with the non-profit, Training to Lead. In March, Cargill started training a poodle named Ike. She said she sent the college a courtesy letter with an explanation as to why Ike would be living on campus and going to class with her.

“It’s just part of his training so he gets used to people being around him and used to the environment, high traffic, and loud noises and things like that,” Cargill said.

In a letter dated April 19, the Southwestern College Dean of Students said Cargill was no longer allowed to have her dog on campus. The letter said in part:

Southwest College did not find anything under Kansas State Statutes that allows the dog on campus. In addition, you have not requested an accommodation due to a documented disability and therefore there’s not a need for the service animal.”

According to Kansas law, K.S.A 39-1101 to 39-1109, any professional trainer who is training a dog to become a service dog has the same rights as a person who has a service dog because of a disability. The law states service dogs are allowed in public buildings, public facilities, public modes of transportation, hotels, lodging places, and places of accommodation.

KSN asked Southwestern College about this law, specifically why Cargill’s service dog in training is not allowed on campus.

A spokesperson for Southwestern College said a lodging place or public place is not the same as a residential-dorm room. The President of the College sent a statement to KSN in reference to the situation. It reads:

“A student made a request for an exception to our established policy which allows service and therapy animals on campus and in the residence halls, for any student with such a documented need. We remain committed to continuing that policy in support of our students. Furthermore, we applaud and support our student’s passion to make a difference in the world. We remain fully committed to all our students who require service or therapy animals. As we work to balance the diverse needs and concerns of our campus community, we will not extend our policy beyond supporting and allowing service animals for our students who demonstrate this need.”

Cargill has worked with the Training to Lead for about five years and has helped train more than 20 dogs. Cargill said she plans to continue to fight the college’s policy and bring more service dogs in training onto campus in the years to come.

Southwestern College has a no-pet policy in its residence halls and apartments. However, the school has to make exceptions under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fair Housing Act. To be protected, students at Southwestern must have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. They must have a record of that impairment and be regarded in that way.

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