TUSTEP brings service-dogs to campus

Brandi Doyal, Staff Reporter

The Tulane Service-Dog Training and Education Program, founded last spring by sophomore Adam Kline, has begun training service dogs on campus. TUSTEP works with Canine Companions for Independence, a national organization, to train service dogs that will one day help people with physical and mental disabilities.

“These dogs really improve people’s lives,” Kline said. “They are not necessarily guide dogs. They are more of physical disability dogs. They turn off lights, open doors and get things out of the refrigerators.”

Kline said the University of Kentucky has a similar program that inspired Kline to try and bring it to Tulane. 

“I thought that there was a real lack of these types of programs in universities around the country, and it is something [students] can be really good at,” Kline said. “A lot of students don’t know about this program or don’t have access to it. People in general don’t really know about service dogs.”

Canine Companions provides TUSTEP with dogs that are bred to be service dogs. TUSTEP is currently training two dogs on campus. Adam Kline is training Kipper, a golden retriever, and Nick Meloro is training Pinbell, a Black Labrador and Golden Retriever mix, which was brought to campus on Nov. 7.

“I think that it is a great way to get involved with animals,” Meloro said. “Even though some people don’t have the time to take on an animal full-time, we let people puppy-sit.”

Director of Housing Kim Montague said the Housing and Residential Life office initially rejected Kline’s request to train the dogs in the dorm due to HRL policy based on other schools and their policies.

“Our office was very ‘no’ to these new things that students want to do,” Montague said. “I think Tulane should be much more progressive than we are. Let’s try these programs, so we can find out where they can be successful.”

Montague said the research put into the project by both Kline and HRL was one of the main reasons that the dogs are now allowed in dorms with exterior doors.

“We were going to have guidelines as to where we would allow this to happen,” Montague said. “We only allow them to have the dogs in places with outside entrances. We hope the program will grow, but we wanted to see what the reaction would be.”

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