Free Ivy Follow-Up
Eliza Radeka is a student at the University of Rhode Island. and Staff News Reporter for The Good 5 Cent Cigar. She published this article in yesterday's edition of the student-run paper. "University responds to Ivy’s expulsion" is a follow-up to the heartbreaking story about Ivy the Husky therapy dog. She was removed from the college campus after the student paper featured the pup and her owner, Mike LaPolice, in a touching article.
The story has gone viral, reaching a national spotlight from various news sources. It's sparked outrage from not only students, but alumni and animal lovers as well. “I was completely blown away by how much publicity the article received,” said LaPolice.
URI Communications issued a statement on Tuesday in response to the publicity. The fear of liability in the case of a dog bite or sanitation issue was their main argument against the dog's presence on campus. They also hold fast to the definition of a therapy dog, and that of a service dog.
“The university does not permit its employees to bring their pets to work, unless they are service animals.” According to the regulations set by the "Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), which states that therapy dogs, or “dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort and support…do not qualify as service animals.” Technically, Ivy is not permitted on campus.
The official statement also read that “the employee [LaPolice] was referred to Human Resources” after Ivy was removed from the residence hall. However, LaPolice claims that “nobody has referred me anywhere and nobody from HRL will communicate with me.”
When the Associate Director of HRL, Jeffrey Plouffe, was asked to give a statement on the "expulsion," he refused to comment. He sent an email to the Cigar claiming he “cannot comment specifically about LaPolice.”
Laura Kenerson is the Director of Personnel Services and Human Resources for URI. She said there is a process for employees to properly document a need for a service animal. “I would be responsible for Mr. LaPolice’s situation if he were to come to me, but so far he has not made that request,” Kenerson said.
A student-run booth has been constructed on the quad of URI campus for a petition titled “Free Ivy.” As of Friday morning, 600 signatures have been collected online. “I’m really happy about what the students have done for me,” LaPolice said. “I almost cried this morning when I saw the booth they set up.”
"LaPolice is still pursuing his options regarding medical reasons for bringing Ivy to campus."