Illinois student pushes for service animals inside labs

August 26, 2018

URBANA, Ill. (AP) — A University of Illinois student is pushing for service animals to be allowed into science labs.

Student Joey Ramp and psychology professor Justin Rhodes have twice asked the university’s Illinois Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee to approve service animals inside labs that experiment with animals. They were denied both times, the News-Gazette reported.

Ramp, a 54-year-old undergraduate molecular and cellular biology student, is working in Rhodes’ lab at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology on the Urbana campus. Ramp uses a service dog to manage her injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder after a horse fell on her in 2006.

Ramp’s golden retriever, Sampson, has accompanied her in chemistry classes, wearing a lab coat, goggles and boots made for dogs. But labs with live animals are off-limits.

Ramp is trying to change that with Rhodes’ support. Ramp wants to launch an experiment to observe how rodents would react to Sampson’s presence in a lab.

Campus spokeswoman Robin Kaler said the Illinois Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee decides to approve research based on principles that include having a strong scientific rational and being designed to protect the welfare of humans and animals involved. The committee also considers whether a study would duplicate existing research or produce useful data, Kaler said.

Rhodes acknowledged there are concerns about the safety of the service dogs and lab animals in her experiment because they would be kept together in a lab. But he said there are easy fixes.

“We have a lot of talented people that need their service dogs or have other needs,” Rhodes said.


Information from: The News-Gazette, http://www.news-gazette.com

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