Stony Brook University approved a new on-campus animal policy in July, called Policy 620. It states that “animals are prohibited from all University buildings, athletic facilities, and outdoor events, unless otherwise permitted by this or other University policy,” according to the University Policy Manual.
It continues to address animals that are exempt, including those used for Disability Support Services, law enforcement, research and clinically approved therapy animals.
Currently, members of the Stony Brook community can walk their leashed pets around campus. However, they are not allowed to bring them into University buildings unless they belong to the group of exemptions. Anyone who brings an animal on campus is responsible for cleaning up after their pet and for any damage inflicted by the animal.
Executive director of Environmental Health & Safety Gary Kaczmarczyk presented the policy to the University Environment Committee for feedback from different departments.
The library representative in this committee, Darren Chase, explained that the committee is made up of one or two representatives from each department or building on campus.
The university did not have an official animal policy before the approval of Policy 620.
According to an email from Kaczmarczyk, the university created the policy to address the issue of dog-bite incidents on-campus. There were two dog-bite incidents reported to the University Police last year.
The policy “ensures the health and safety of the Stony Brook University community; preserves the integrity of the buildings and grounds; and supports a healthful educational and work environment that respects the rights of individuals.”
Policy 620 aims to prevent animal bites, legal liabilities, air quality, problems for individuals with allergies or fears, disruptions, complaints and wear-and-tear on campus facilities.
In regards to policy enforcement, Kaczmarczyk responded, “compliance with this and other University policies is the responsibility of the entire University community.”
Kathleen Maxheimer, an administrative assistant at Melville Library, is interested in starting a program to have certified therapy animals at the library for students to interact with. She argues for the positive effects of spending time with animals, especially during the stresses of exam weeks, in her proposal.
“Everything I do as far as outreach has the ultimate goal of bringing students into the library so that the library is a more friendly place. We’re more than just books” Maxheimer said.
However, Maxheimer’s proposals to the university do not fit into any of the written exemptions of the new animal policy.
Sophomore physics major Amiel Quadri read through the policy and felt that it was reasonable. “It’s perfectly understandable that animals are not permitted,” he said. “It might make people uncomfortable.”
Although Quadri said he thinks that the policy is reasonable, he is skeptical that the community will help enforce the policy unless it is an extreme circumstance.
“If I saw a dog in the library I definitely wouldn’t say anything,” he said.
“It’s things like that, that break the routine. We have all this routine, going to class at the same times and even eating at the same times. It’s very nice to see an animal because I have pets at home” Quadri said.