Resolution calls for pet therapy

Asem Abdelfattah

Staff Writer

Senator Caitlin Smith, a senior political science major from Panama City, Florida, and chair of public relations and marketing, proposed two new resolutions at Tuesday night’s Student Government Association meeting.

The measures could allow students, faculty and staff to spend more time with their pets on campus or to establish a pet therapy room for those who feel stressed.

The pet therapy room resolution was passed by the SGA, while the lifting of the pet ban and replacing it with a leash law on campus was not passed.   

“I think the pet therapy room would be a great addition to our campus,” Smith said. “College can be very stressful at times, and having a place where you can go and just spend quality time with animals could really help you relax.

“The pet therapy room would also have other relaxation elements like soft music, adult coloring books, and we are open to even more suggestions.”

During discussion of the pet therapy resolution, Senator Blakelee Clack, a sophomore risk management insurance major from Dothan, was one of several senators who spoke.

“I would use the pet therapy room,” Clack said later. “I love animals, and I think that it would be a fun and unique addition to our campus.

“A pet therapy room could increase the chances of having these rescue animals adopted.”

Smith said that this not only benefits people who would use the pet therapy room but also helps a greater cause.

“All the animals participating in this program are rescue animals from Troy Animal Rescue Project,” Smith said. “A $5 to $10 annual fee to access the room will go directly towards TARP.”

Several other concerns addressed were allergies that students may have if the room was to be established inside a location such as the Trojan Center, how the cleanup of the animals would be conducted and how often the pet therapy room would be in operation.

Senator Adrian Bone, a freshman business major from New Market, said he is concerned about how it will be implemented.

“A pet therapy room can be a good idea, but I have a few concerns,” Bone said. “It was proposed for the location to be in the Trojan Center, which can be disturbing for some students because that is where they eat.”

Bone said that the fee is reasonable because it goes directly toward the animals and TARP.

“I think $5 to $10 a year is a reasonable fee, especially considering that it goes directly towards the animals participating in the program and the TARP organization,” Bone said.

Smith said that the pet therapy room would be available once a month at first, and would be volunteer operated. While TARP would be responsible for transportation of the animals, student volunteers would operate the room.

“We will start having the room once a month as a test,” Smith said. “Hopefully we could increase availability to once a week and potentially having a permanent, dedicated room in the future.

“I think many students will appreciate this opportunity to volunteer to help many of their peers, get volunteer hours and have fun at that same time,” Smith said.

Another resolution presented and voted on this week proposed to replace the current campus ban on animals with a leash law.

Animals would have to pass behavioral and medical tests before being registered on campus with specialty tags.

This resolution was not passed, and many senators had a number of concerns that prevented it from passing with a majority vote.

“My concern with pets on leashes is that accidents do happen, and if a dog were to get loose and stray from its owner, I worry about what could happen,” Clack said.

“I worry that the animal could be hit by a car, attack students, cause allergic reactions or disrupt classes if it got into the building, and potentially the problem of lawsuits and faults arises.”

Several senators, including Clack, expressed their concern about the safety, the enforcement of the law, the liability and the waste disposal of the animals.

“Another concern is the cleanup and upkeep of our grounds,” Clack said.  “Animals will cause messes, and while we hope that owners would dispose of their pets’ messes, we cannot ensure that.

“I love animals and dogs are my very favorite, but for the overall well-being on Troy’s campus and students, I feel that not allowing pets on campus would be the best decision,” Clack said.

Smith said that she understands why some senators may be opposed to having a leash law, but she will continue to work on this resolution to find a way where it can be done while eliminating all concerns.

“I will continue to work on it, and hopefully I can get it to pass soon,” Smith said.

Now that the SGA has passed the therapy room resolution, Smith will continue working with administration for its possible implementation.

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