Friday, March 15, 2013

Blanca, The Emotional Support Guinea Pig - COTW #134

Tyler Durden had his penguin, Joe Schmo had his llama, and now, Kendra Velzen has her guinea pig. Kendra is a student at Grand Valley State University who suffers from chronic depression. She sued GVSU last year because it would not allow her to keep Blanca, her "emotional support animal," in the dorms and take her to common areas.

Now, the Huffington Post reports that the parties settled the lawsuit for $40,000. Most of the coverage paints this as a victory for the student. $40,000 in a housing discrimination suit is hardly a homerun - maybe more like a base on balls. But it highlights a growing area in disability accommodation cases - the "emotional support animal."

I confess, I'm just going off of a hunch here - I just feel like I'm hearing more about this issue lately. Anybody out there have any numbers? Drop a comment. I usually hear about these stories in the student housing context, but I'm sure it's coming to workplace litigation if its not here already. Certainly we see service animal ADA workplace litigation. Are emotional support animals really any different?