The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) charged Kent State University (KSU) and four employees with violating the Fair Housing Act after they denied a student's request to keep a therapy dog in a university apartment for emotional support.
The student suffers from "panic disorder and anxiety" and needs the support animal to function in school.
In a press release, the HUD Assistant Secretary said that "Many people with disabilities rely on therapy animals to enhance their quality of life". "The Fair Housing Act protects their right to a service animal and HUD is committed to taking action whenever the nation's fair housing laws are violated," Velazquez said.
In contrast, the university released the following statement Tuesday afternoon: "Kent State University is aware of the charges stemming from claims made several years ago. Helping our students succeed remains a top priority, and we look forward to discussing the facts of this case at the appropriate time."
A letter from the psychologist, quoted by HUD, stated that the student had benefited greatly in the past from having a pet, and requested that the university "take into consideration her [the student's] mental health disorder when considering her request."
The student seeks $16,000 in civil damages from the university and each person named in the charges. The agency said that the charge will be refer to a federal administrative law judge for hearing or if any of the parties choose to have the case heard in federal district court, the case will be heard be a federal judge.