More service animals expected at NIU this fall

Photo of a golden retrieverMilitary Student Services and the Disability Resource Center anticipate an increased number of service animals on campus this fall in relation to students with invisible disabilities.

People experience multiple invisible disabilities, one being traumatic stress; the International Association of Traumatic Stress reports that approximately 60 percent of Americans will experience a traumatic event at some point in their lifetime.

The campus community needs to recognize there are only two questions appropriate to ask of a student as it pertains to a service animal:

  • Is the service animal required because of a disability?
  • What work or tasks has the animal been trained to perform?

There are responsibilities the student has if using a service animal. The primary responsibility is that the service animal must be under the control of the student at all times. The student also is responsible for keeping the animal clean and cleaning up after the animal.

“I am excited by the advancement of service animals for veterans with disabilities,” said Austin M.D. Quick, a senior political science major and speaker of the Student Association Senate. Quick is a veteran of the U.S. Navy and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“As more service animals are used by veterans with ‘hidden’ disabilities, education of the general public will be needed and an important step will be taken towards a better understanding of what types of disabilities veterans suffer from beyond the ones you can see.”

Members of the campus community are reminded to be mindful of visible and invisible disabilities.

In situations where it is not readily apparent an animal is a service or assistance animal, the matter should be referred to the Disability Resource Center if the person with a disability is a student. Call (815) 753-1303 (voice/TTY) or email drc@niu.edu.

For more detailed information, review the “Guidance on Service and Assistance Animals at NIU” online.

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