While no one is debating the validity of service animals for persons with disabilities or even the therapeutic nature of pets, the current pending lawsuit against Grand Valley State University toes the line of when a pet is a necessity and when a request for an animal can be reasonably denied.

However, whether or not you think Calder resident Kendra Velzen, 28, should have been allowed to keep a guinea pig in her on-campus efficiency apartment after her therapist recommended she get an animal to deal with heart problems and depression, the answer is a moot point. That’s because, as Vice President of Public Relations Matt McLogan told the Lanthorn, Velzen had been allowed to have the pet since October 2011.

While Velzen’s lawsuit over the animal could have been justified if the university had denied her the animal outright or not offered her other channels to address her grievances, suing GVSU seems like an overreaction. Yes, Velzen had to submit three appeals to be able to keep the pet — the basis for Velzen and the Fair Housing Center of West Michigan to pursue the lawsuit — but consider how many requests GVSU must get each semester from students submitting bogus claims in hopes of being able to keep an animal. That’s not to say Velzen’s claim is bogus, but if she has a legitimate need for some kind of coping mechanism, then who is to say that there aren’t 100 other students who live on GVSU’s campus who have the same, legitimate need but have found some kind of alternative. It’s akin to the “slippery slope” principle — if the university makes an exception in this case, it’s opening up a can of worms for a whole other category of exceptions that students can, and most likely will, take full advantage of — and therein the real problem lies. There are plenty of legitimate reasons for the university’s no-pets policy — including interconnected air shafts that can lead to an animal in one room of a residence hall setting off the allergies of another current or future resident — and while Velzen’s reasons for wanting the guinea pig may have been just as valid, that doesn’t mean that request doesn’t need to be thoroughly vetted.

Animals can be the closest kind of confidant, but part of maturing is being able to let go of those emotional attachments and find more plausible ways to feel comfortable in your own skin.