Grand Valley, student reach settlement over guinea pig

Mar 8, 2013

A student who sued Grand Valley State University over the right to keep a guinea pig in her on-campus apartment has reached a settlement with the school for $40,000.

MLive.com reports that Kendra Velzen sued under the federal Fair Housing Act.  Velzen reportedly needed the guinea pig for emotional support. The school allowed her to keep the guinea pig in her room, but she was worried about possible restrictions. Grand Valley denies any wrongdoing.

Nancy Haynes is the executive director of the Fair Housing Center of West Michigan, which helped with the case. She wouldn't comment on the settlement, but she said landlords must make reasonable accommodations for residents with disabilities who need assistance from animals.

"She needed to have her guinea pig, and she had a prescription from her doctor, a letter, explaining that she needed this guinea pig in order to succeed in school and live independently," Haynes said.

Stephen Dane, Velzen's attorney, also declined to comment on the settlement, but said the accommodations landlords are required to make vary from case to case.

"It really is dependent on what the medical provider says, it depends on the individual's condition and what is required to alleviate the condition, and so forth," he said.


-- Joseph Lichterman, Michigan Radio Newsroom