Rego: CSU needed the resolution to allow disciplinary action against fake service dogs

Shay Rego

 Editor’s Note: The views expressed in the following column are those of the writer only and do not necessarily represent the views of The Collegian or its editorial board.

With all the Associated Students of Colorado State University leadership changing, many new resolutions are being implemented. In response to Colorado State University’s fake service dog epidemic, a new resolution was passed regarding dog behavior on campus.

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Fake service dogs and unruly pets on campus have become an issue for people with legitimate service dogs. The poorly trained pets pose huge distractions to real service dogs, which can put their handlers at risk. Fake service dogs also give real service dogs a bad reputation.

Cerridwyn Nordstrom, senator for the Student Disability Center and vice chair of the Women’s Caucus, wrote Resolution #48: Change of Student Conduct Code for Service Dog Behavior, which officially passed on March 27. Nordstrom has a black lab guide dog named Iris for her visual impairment.

“My aim with this resolution was to hold students accountable for disrupting others’ ability to learn,” Nordstrom said. “Part of the University policy is that no discrimination can happen, based on a bunch of different criteria. I see the Conduct Office’s refusal to protect service dog handlers as the University discriminating against and ignoring the needs of disabled students.” 

The resolution petitions for the Student Resolution Center to change their policy to protect students from aggressive and uncontrolled dog behavior on campus. It targets the large influx of undertrained and fraudulent service animals and pets on the CSU campus.

Service dogs work hard every day to ensure their handler’s safety and must always keep their attention on them. A barking dog or an over-friendly pooch approaching a service dog could cause the working dog to become distracted. When distracted, it could take the service dog a long time to refocus, which leaves the handler without immediate use of their medical equipment. 

As a handler, Nordstrom had many terrible encounters with poorly trained pets on campus, as well as dogs wearing service dog vests that were clearly not well trained. Ironically, some of these interactions happened with the ASCSU candidate campaigners. 

“During the election cycle for ASCSU, dog interactions have been the worst,” Nordstrom said. “Everyone brings their pets to help them campaign, but students don’t keep them under control. I had a Dalmatian lunge and pull its handler over to me and my service dog when I walked through the middle of The Plaza. … That kind of interaction makes it really difficult for Iris to do her job and puts both of us in danger.” 

This resolution was created after the Student Conduct Offices’s false promises. Student Conduct announced last year they would implement a new policy allowing for complaints against service animals, emotional support animals and pet behavior. Student Conduct never followed through.

“My best advice for reporting is to take a picture. … If you see someone or are personally attacked by a dog on campus, it is always best to call either 911 or the CSU police.” -Cerridwyn Nordstrom

ASCSU urged the CSU Administration and Student Conduct Center to amend the Student Conduct Code to allow complaints and disciplinary action to be taken against students, staff and faculty with undertrained or fraudulent animals.

“I think that this resolution alone won’t fix anything,” Nordstrom said. “But it does put pressure on the Student Conduct Office to make a change. These dogs are a huge liability for the University. … What this resolution does is it gives the Student Disability Center and students affected by these dogs the backing of the student population.” 

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While this resolution is to help service dogs, it will also help service dogs in training, who need the extra training and attention to ignore and work around high distractions. Service dogs and their handlers shouldn’t have to fear strange and potentially aggressive dogs when going to class.

While the resolution alone won’t eradicate the problem, it’s a step in the right direction for identifying the problem and holding people accountable for their inappropriate actions. So please, think twice if you think it’s not a big deal to bring your pet to class.

Shay Rego can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter at @shay_rego.