Therapy Dog Expelled from URI [PHOTO]
Mike LaPolice is a maintenance worker at the University of Rhode Island. He is known to most residents in the hall he maintains, but only because of his furry companion. Ivy is his therapy dog, and lovable husky. LaPolice had her registered as a therapy dog when she was five months old in order to be able to bring her to work, and has stolen the hearts of all she encounters since then.
The school newspaper, "The Good 5 Cent Cigar," highlighted LaPolice and Ivy in a special feature earlier this month. The article, titled “Therapy dog provides residential joy,” emphasized Ivy's ability to lift the spirits of all the residents and employees she came across. She quickly became a "staple" of the residence hall, some would say a mascot of sorts.
“On a particularly tough day, Ivy wandered into my office and just put her head on my leg,” Amanda Mercadante, an RA in the building, told the newspaper. “How could I possibly stay focused on such negativity in my life with that beautiful, loving dog looking right up at me?”
The feature was well received by many, but a select few greatly disapproved of Ivy on campus. LaPolice was reportedly forbidden from continuing to bring Ivy to work after the article was published. "LaPolice told the paper he was contacted by a school housing official and told he and Ivy must leave the campus and lose a day’s pay." If he plans to return to work, Ivy cannot join him. “I was happy about the article because I thought it would open people’s eyes to how amazing Ivy is,” LaPolice told the newspaper. “I never thought this would happen.”
Allegedly the school has addressed Ivy's presence on campus as "unprofessional," but their efforts to do anything about it were dormant for at least six months. It seems the article awakened the issue with the Department of Housing and Residential Life (HRL).
"Cigar" felt the article shed positive light on Ivy, and are sad to learn of her "expulsion." LaPolice is going to "speak with his doctor to discuss his options for keeping Ivy with him for medical reasons."
As a recent college graduate, I can confirm that having puppies on campus was a better stress reliever during finals than anything else. It's disappointing to learn that Ivy has been banned from URI, especially since there doesn't seem to be a legitimate reason beyond that "professionalism" is in question. I hope residents can see their beloved pup soon.