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Student's Lawsuit Over Guinea Pig Results in $40,000 Settlement

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By Sami K. Martin, Christian Post Reporter
March 11, 2013|10:43 am

A student who sued her college after being forced to part ways with her guinea pig has accepted a $40,000 settlement from the school. The school has also agreed to work with the student in order to provide for her well-being, which includes her guinea pig.

Kendra Velzen filed a suit against Grand Valley State University after the school reportedly told her she could not keep the guinea pig she uses for emotional support. According to the suit, Velzen said that the school was violating the Fair Housing Act and she wanted to be able to keep her animal.

"The parties' decision to enter into this agreement represents a compromise of disputed claims and creates the framework for the parties to move forward without the disruption and cost of litigation," the settlement said.

Grand Valley State University has denied that it attempted to separate Velzen with her pet. In this case, the guinea pig is considered an assistance animal because it "provides her with emotional support and attachment, and physiological and psychological benefits," her attorney said.

Velzen currently uses a pacemaker and suffers from depression; the guinea pig helps ease her symptoms and provides much-needed support to the young woman. She claims it's important that the two stay together as often as possible, but GVSU established restrictions that prevented Velzen from taking her animal to class or other common areas.

The school has since agreed to work with Velzen and the Fair Housing Center in order to establish new guidelines and policies for students who require animal assistance.

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"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.

It's unclear whether she will remain at GVSU or go to another school that will be more accepting of the guinea pig. However, it appears as though she has gained everything she wanted and more.

 

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