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Chi Omega sorority sisters take therapy dog dispute to court

Madeleine Entine, a second-year in psychology and her therapy dog, Cory. Credit: Courtesy of Madeleine Entine

Apparently the only bond stronger than sisterhood is the bond between a girl and her dog.

Madeleine Entine, a second-year in psychology, and her therapy dog, Cory, were told by Ohio State they had to move out of the Chi Omega sorority house after her roommate complained of severe allergies to dogs.

According to court documents, Entine said she suffers from panic attacks that, when severe enough, restrict her breathing and render her immobile. Her certified therapy dog is trained to lay on her stomach when she suffers a panic attack.

Entine then sued Ohio State under the Americans with Disabilities Act and received a temporary restraining order Oct. 26 against the university allowing her to stay in the house for the time being. A federal judge heard her case last week and will decide whether or not she can stay in the house.

Chi Omega sorority sister Carly Goldman, a second-year in marketing, said the dog living in the house triggered her allergies, which then aggravated her Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel ailment.

Goldman first notified the private landlord of the sorority house, who pointed her toward Ohio State’s ADA coordinator, L. Scott Lissner, because he had granted Entine the waiver to live in the house with an assistance animal.

Though the Chi Omega house typically has a no-animal policy, it modified that policy to allow Maddie to have Cory in the house and they moved in together at the end of August before the semester started.

But because of Goldman’s Crohn’s disease, she, too, was protected under the ADA, setting up a standoff between the two sorority sisters.

Ohio State offered each of the two girls alternative housing options, but both declined.

In court documents, Entine said other university living options are not suitable.

“Living in the Chi Omega house is important to Maddie,” her complaint states. “It has different qualities from university-owned housing. For example, it facilitates close social relationships between sorority members and provides additional and different living spaces and dining experiences not available in campus housing. Further, Maddie has attained the position of Chi Omega chapter vice president. This position requires the holder to reside in the Chi Omega house. Thus, a housing option outside of the Chi Omega house is not a reasonable equivalent to living in the house.”

Lissner said the university would not use the disabilities as a factor in the decision.

He said Ohio State “may not pick or choose which disability is more severe,” according to the documents.

When both sorority sisters decided not to move out, and with both protected under ADA, Ohio State decided whomever was in the house first had the right to stay. With Goldman signing the lease first, Lissner decided she got to stay.

Entine was told either she or the 8-year-old Cavalier King Charles spaniel Cory had to go.

An Ohio State spokesman declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.

This week, U.S. District Judge Algenon L. Marbley will rule on Entine’s injunction request and decide whether her dog can stay in the house.

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