Ole Miss reverses course, lets service dog back in classroom
Clarion Ledger | Justin Victory
The University of Mississippi following public outcry has reversed course and is again allowing a service dog in the classroom with her handler, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.
About two weeks ago, Ole Miss had banned "Violet," a professionally trained Labrador for what they say was disruptive behavior.
However, the school changed its mind after the dog's trainer and service dog advocates questioned the decision and sought media attention.
Jeff McCall, who trained Violet, said he contacted university personnel in the run-up to the ban to see if he could come to Ole Miss and watch how Violet and her handler interacted. At the time, the university refused, but after a story ran in the Clarion Ledger detailing opposition to the ban, authorities contacted McCall.
"No one was making headway, but 24 to 48 hours after the article, they contacted me and said they were unaware of the situation with Violet and wanted to get the dog back in the classroom as soon as possible," McCall said.
Violet is now back by her handler's side.
"Following discussions with all pertinent stakeholders, the University of Mississippi has collaboratively worked to implement a plan to reintroduce the service dog into the classroom," the university said in a statement.
McCall monitored Violet last week via Skype, the computer software that allows two-way communication and video.
"There were no problems. She (Violet) did as she was trained. The professor didn't even seem to notice her," he said.
McCall is the owner of The International K9 Foundation, a Summit-based dog training center. McCall helped draft the amendments to House Bill 944, which became law over the summer. The new law allows service dogs to accompany military personnel who suffer from PTSD.