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School settles guinea pig suit

March 12, 2013 at 12:32 PM

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., March 12 (UPI) -- A Michigan university settled a lawsuit filed by a student who was barred from keeping her guinea pig, a service animal, in her dorm room.

Grand Valley State University agreed to pay $40,000 to be divided by Kendra Velzen, the Fair Housing Center of West Michigan and the plaintiffs' attorney nearly a year after the suit was filed in March 2012, WOOD-TV, Grand Rapids, Mich., reported Tuesday.

The lawsuit said Velzen was denied a service animal exception to the housing rule in the "pet free" Calder Residents dorm, despite having a letter outlining her need for a support animal from her medical provider. Velzen has a heart condition that requires the use of a pace-maker and takes medication for severe depression, the lawsuit said.

GVSU said in denying the request that the Americans With Disabilities Act does not list a guinea pig as a trained service animal.

The school agreed to pay the settlement amount as well as allow Velzen to bring her guinea pig or a similar animal if she chooses to live on campus in the future.

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