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The independent news website of The Kent Stater & TV2


The independent news website of The Kent Stater & TV2


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Freedom Paws: Training psychiatric support dogs on campus

Freedom Paw’s dog in training. (Courtesy of Freedom Paws.)

Kent State Freedom Paws is a student organization that provides care for service dogs in training, focusing on socializing the dogs on campus during their early stages of training, in hopes of finding where their services can be used best. 

President of Freedom Paws Kayla Jackey is a junior nursing major at Kent State. Her journey with Freedom Paws started her freshman year after discovering the group at the fall student organization fair. 

“Starting my junior year, the last president was graduating, so they were doing applications. I applied and got the position,” Jackey said. 

Freedom Paws raises dogs ranging from eight weeks to one year old, and trains them to become service animals. One of the most recently graduated dogs went on to become a PTSD service dog for a veteran, Jackey said. 

“We socialize the dogs a lot and they have to meet a lot of different people,” Jackey said. “And with that, they get experiences with the population of people who might have some mental health issues.” 

Kent State and its professors are a huge part of helping Freedom Paws by allowing the dogs on campus and into the classrooms, Jackey said. 

In addition to the psychiatric support animals on campus, there is a small population of emotional service animals as well. Kent State Student Accessibility Services reports that there are about 125 students who have registered emotional support animals on campus. 

“Students should get connected with SAS to request an assistance animal accommodation. Our typical process is for students to provide documentation of their disability, and then for an assistance animal, we ask for some additional specific information about the animal. There is a form on our documentation guidelines page that can guide a student and their provider, or they can submit a letter with the same information. Overall, we are looking for evidence that the student has a disability and that the assistance animal provides a therapeutic relationship that alleviates the impact of the student’s disability.” Kent State Student Accessibility Services said. 

Freedom Paws gives students the opportunity to connect with dogs during their time at Kent, while also fulfilling a bigger purpose. 

“That whole process of seeing them helping people, it really makes all the hard work of training and the whole process worth it,” Jackey said. 

EmilyJo Jaeger is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected].

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