TRU community rallies against proposed dog policy

Students and staff alike believe having furry friends on campus to be beneficial

Robert Wisla, his dog Jacob and Kirsten Bawtree were among the students, faculty and staff rallying against the proposed ban on dogs in TRU buildings last Thursday. (Elizabeth Nygren/The Omega)

On Thursday, April 5, students and faculty at TRU came together to rally against a proposed policy where dogs would not be allowed inside campus buildings.

Currently, there are many people that bring their furry friends to campus to keep them company, relieve their stress and to brighten up the day for their peers.

The new policy would still allow the popular therapy dogs and assistance dogs alike in campus buildings, but would ban any other dogs from entering TRU buildings.

Robert Wisla, organizer of the event and one of the many students that brings their dog on campus, simply wants the creation of a fair policy.

“I want TRU to come up with a good solid policy that works for everybody,” he said. “Policies at TRU need to have student and staff support.”

Wisla hopes that this event will raise awareness of this new policy. He added that students get really happy when they see his dog running around campus and that it would be unfortunate to lose that feeling due to this new policy.

TRU nursing students, Alex Lubbe and Melinda Smith, also gave their thoughts on why it’s important to have dogs allowed on campus.

“We have class eight hours a day sometimes and we feel bad leaving them alone all day,” Lubbe, who is also a dog owner, said.

She also added that it helps with their own mental health, as well as everyone else’s well-being.

“As long as your dogs are friendly and you know they’re going to interact fine with people and other dogs, [then] you should be allowed to bring them,” added Smith.

When discussing incidents with dogs, such as biting, Lubbe said that she feels as though that can happen anywhere.

“It’s just an accident and they shouldn’t have brought them,” she said.

When discussing the policy with TRU President Alan Shaver, he said that this new policy would be implemented to ensure the safety of both students and staff.

“Policies come up when the needs are perceived, [and] we have a duty of care to make sure people are safe at their place of work and place of study,” Shaver said.

He noted that there had recently been an incident of a dog biting someone on campus, which lead to the discussion of this policy.

“There are people that have come to us about allergies, and distractions during their work, [and] people have come to us saying some of the pets are soiling themselves in offices [which] leads to unpleasant duties,” Shaver said.

Shaver added that TRU recognizes the benefits of the therapy dog program and that they will be continuing that. As well, if people have special needs, the university will listen. Shaver said that he hopes the university can work towards a compromise on this issue.

In response to potential ban, Cohen Hocking, a law student at TRU, gave his thoughts on the future policy as well.

“It would make a lot more sense to ban on an individual dog basis – a blanket ban just seems overly broad,” Hocking said. “Most dogs are good dogs and they brighten up everyone’s day.”