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LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — UL-Lafayette freshman Alexandra Dondeville has dyslexia and ADHD and said she needs her service dog, Cookie, to calm her down and help her when she is out in public places.
Recently, Cookie was denied access on the UL-Lafayette campus after Dondeville’s biology professor claimed the dog bit him during class.
Dondeville denies that accusation stating that the professor stepped on Cookie’s head and that Cookie yelped in pain, but there was never any bite.
She said Cookie was lying on her side when the professor entered the classroom and walked down the aisle.
Without breaking his stride, she said, the professor stepped on Cookie’s head with his left foot as he rounded a corner.
“He did not look at his legs to examine if he had been bitten, he did not excuse himself and he did not check to see if Cookie and I were okay,” Dondeville said. “The only indication that he noticed Cookie was even there is when he said, it’s been a minute since I’ve been bit by a dog.”
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, service animals are allowed to enter all public spaces that a human would be allowed to enter, and it’s illegal for a business to deny them access. Interfering with the work of a service animal is a class A misdemeanor and requesting that the service animal leave the premises is legal only if the animal is not behaving well.
UL Lafayette Public Information Officer Eric Maron responding to our request for comment on the incident said:
“The University of Louisiana at Lafayette is dedicated to creating a campus culture that is safe and accessible for all students, faculty and staff members. The University allows trained service and emotional support animals on campus to assist individuals who may need them. The University’s Animal Policy, which was adopted in 2019, and applicable laws provide guidelines that both the animals and their handlers must follow.
The policy requires that:
• service and emotional support animals be personally supervised by the handler, and the handler must retain full control of the animal at all times while on University property;
• no service or emotional support animals disrupt or interfere with University activities, including teaching, research or service; and
• if improper behavior happens more than once, the handler may be prohibited from bringing the animal onto University property.
If a service or emotional support animal is prohibited from campus, the University encourages students to contact the Office of Disability Services to determine alternative reasonable accommodations.”
A petition aimed at bringing Dondeville and Cookie back on campus and back to class has gained over one thousand signatures.