Heidelberg student gets over 100,000 signatures in hopes of getting service dog back

Sarah Williams holding her service dog in training, Ginger. (Photo courtesy of Sarah Williams)

Heidelberg Freshman Sarah Williams has gone viral thanks to a online petition at care2.com.

Williams claims she was cleared to bring a service dog in training to school to start her first semester of college, and then her dog Ginger, was forced off school property in the middle of October. The school says it was not ADA, or Americans with Disabilities Act, compliant.

"This was obviously really hard because they said, 'oh it's a violation of school policy to have a service dog in training on campus.' I understood that completely, but if it's a violation of school policy to have a service dog in training on campus, why was I given the ok three months prior."

Sarah suffers from post traumatic stress disorder. She says that the nine-month-old beagle, poodle mix has worked better than any medicine. For example, during her nightmares, Ginger would notice and wrap her body around her head to comfort Sarah.

"It's like having a human with me. And having a dog to sleep with and that kind of thing, it really worked out perfectly. I knew it would be a great fit, and it would do more than medication would ever."

Heidelberg released a statement on the matter, saying, "We continue to work with all Heidelberg students, including Ms. Williams, to meet their educational needs while at the same time remaining compliant with the ADA for the good of our entire University community."

Since Ginger was removed from Heidelberg, Williams has had more trouble focusing in class, and has found it hard to balance schoolwork and efforting getting Ginger back.

Williams said that a classmate gave her the idea to start a petition. She wanted to do it more for the awareness of the subject.

"It's amazing. Me and my mom were just scrolling through and were like, 'wow, these people really care.' It's like people from Italy, Bolivia, all over the world. So I was really excited and I didn't know it would get that big, but it's good to bring awareness to service dogs because they're growing more and more each day."

Williams doesn't exactly know what's next, but says Ginger's off-campus training could cost up to $5,000.

To read or sign her petition, click here.

You can also visit her GoFundMe page.

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