Pups ‘N Pints in danger of cancellation

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author: john loeppky | editor-in-chief

Persecuted puppers (as opposed to owls) / jeremy davis

Dog therapy event challenged by administration

The future of Pups ‘N Pints, the campus event used to raise funds for various affected groups and provide dog therapy to students, is now uncertain after an administrative decision by the University of Regina.  

In emails obtained by the Carillon, the issue at hand is listed as being the University of Regina’s rules concerning animals on campus, particularly, Animal Use Protocol 19-02.  

The University of Regina Student’s Union [URSU] first received notice that there was an administrative problem on Feb. 21 from President’s Committee on Animal Care chair Chris Oriet 

“I write to you in my capacity as the Chair of the President’s Committee on Animal Care (PCAC). A concern has been raised that URSU is regularly hosting an event (“Pups & Pints”) that involves bringing dogs on campus.”  

The email also provided a link to the required form.  

In his reply the following day, URSU President Shawn Wiskar detailed the length of the time that the program had been operating and that no issues had previously been brought forward by administration.  

Thank you for reaching out. URSU was unaware that your committee was still in existence as this event has been running on a regular basis for nearly a year and a half now with no indication or notice from you that paperwork needed to be filled out. I want to raise a concern that the scope of your committee and the Care and Use of Animals Policy may need to be broadened to include events on campus.” 

Wiskar pointed to the non-research element of the event and suggested that the two entities work together to create an easiertouse form.  

Attached below is the form you requested, but I had difficulty fully filling it out due to its applicability to this event. Can we help you develop an animal event form to ease this process? 

Oriet’s response thanked Wiskar and URSU for the offer while pointing out that the committee’s emails were regular and that those involved with the therapy dog program had completed the required process after being informed.  

 Our committee has been discussing how to make the short-form AUP more suitable for these types of events, as they seem to be happening with increasing frequency. I will be sure to share with the committee your generous offer to assist in the development of a revised form. 

The completed form was subsequently denied on on Feb. 27. The committee’s statement points to areas of liability and a lack of clarity as to why the application was rejected.  

After review of your Animal Use protocol by the President’s Committee on Animal care, the committee has voted not to approve the Pups n’ Pints event.” 

“The committee had the following key concerns:” 

That there was a general lack of monitoring and control of the event. It was not clear how it would be verified that the animals were licensed, vaccinated or trained. Also, considerations were lacking regarding the possibility of injury to another dog or person and who would be liable for such an incident.  

“The current Therapy Dog program involves dogs and handlers that have received extensive training. The situation is controlled and contained and may be valid therapy. Animals that are not trained as service or therapy dogs can experience a great amount of distress or discomfort at being thrust into a situation where a lot is being asked of them. Some owners, and URSU students, may be unaware of subtle behavioural cues of stress dogs may exhibit prior to more overt behaviour such as vocalizing or biting.” 

The email was sent on the day of the next event, which went ahead as scheduled. In an email sent the same day, Feb. 27, Wiskar detailed URSU’s issue with the decision.  

We respect the decision of the committee and are confident we can work within your considerations for our March and April event to meet your standards. With that said the February event is happening in less than two hours which is not enough time to adequately cancel the event and inform all of the dog owners of the event cancellation. Further to this we have made a commitment to financially support veterans dealing with PTSD in acquiring service dogs, many of whom may be present this evening, with tonight’s proceeds. It would look terrible for URSU and the UofR [SIC] to suddenly pull support from this event and send the veterans home with no donation.” 

“Again, I would like to stress that while the policy speaks to any use of animals on campus, it makes no consideration for events. We feel much of the information you consider to be lacking in the Animal Use Form was not asked in a clear way on the form. We are happy to provide you answers to all of your questions and the extent of our event liability insurance which is in place for events such as dog bites.” 

The application itself listed the description of the event, the safety protocols in place, and how the animals were being taken care of during the event.  

To provide students with a mental health break and an opportunity outside of conventional therapy dogs sessions provided by Student Affairs, the Owl offers a monthly event known as Pups & Pints. Pups & Pints is not an educational or research based event, but rather an opportunity for students without animals in their home to experience pet therapy. This event also serves as a community service of allowing dog owners on campus and in the community to provide their dogs with indoor exercise in a safe controlled environment. 

According to Wiskar, URSU has received information that the policy does not cover events. We will update as more information becomes available.   

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