Animal Law, Law Schools, Libraries / Librarians, Pets

The Best Law Schools — For Dog Lovers

Monty, the Yale Law library dog

In the past week, we’ve learned about the best law schools for getting rich and the best law schools according to law firm hiring partners. So let’s do one more ranking: the best law schools for dog lovers.

This ranking, as it turns out, looks a lot like the U.S. News law school rankings: there’s Yale Law School at #1, and then there’s everyone else.

How many law schools let you “check out” a certified therapy dog from the library, for thirty-minute periods of stress relief? As far as we know, YLS stands alone.

We kid you not. And this time around, YLS isn’t denying it….

If this story sounds familiar to you, it should be. New York magazine explains why:

Last fall, the blog Above the Law caught wind of a jokey stunt going on at the Yale Law School Library. In addition to checking out books, students at the top-ranked graduate school could also, it seemed, check out “Monty” (full name General Montgomery), a border terrier mix. The dog would be available to play with students for 30-minute intervals, according to the library catalogue listing. But shortly after ATL discovered this adorable opportunity, the school said that it was just a gag, and that you couldn’t really check out the pooch.

And yet now, according to a memo to students, Monty is back in circulation.

Yup, that’s right — we received several copies of the memo from YLS tipsters. And this time around, we contacted the law school to confirm that this was for real. A Yale Law School spokesperson confirmed the authenticity of the email to ATL.

Here’s the memo, for your reading pleasure (it’s pretty awesome):

From: Femi Cadmus
Date: Thu, Mar 10, 2011 at 10:49 AM
Subject: Law Library Therapy Dog Pilot Program Launches March 28, 2011
To: Law School Students

Dear Students:

The law library intends to run a three day pilot program starting on March 28, 2011 during which students will be able to “check out” our certified library therapy dog, Monty for thirty minute periods. We hope that making a therapy dog available to our students will prove to be a positive addition to current services offered by the library. It is well documented that visits from therapy dogs have resulted in increased happiness, calmness, and overall emotional well-being. http://www.tdi-dog.org/About.aspx?Page=Information for Facilities

Beginning March 21, 2011, a sign-up sheet with additional information will be available at the circulation desk for students wishing to check out Monty. Even though Monty is hypoallergenic, visits will be confined to a dedicated non-public space in the library to eliminate potential adverse reactions from any library user who might have dog-related concerns. We are committed to ensuring our library remains a welcoming and comfortable environment for all our users.

Finally, we will need your feedback and comments to help us decide if this will be a permanent on-going program available during stressful periods of the semester, for example during examinations. Please feel free to contact us at anytime at [xxx] or stop by the library administrative suite in room 300 to speak with the Librarian.

Sincerely,
Blair Kauffman, Law Librarian

Chris Rovzar of New York magazine thinks this is a great idea and wants to see the practice spread: “Law school is one thing. But when corporate firms start offering therapy dogs to overworked associates, then we might start reconsidering this whole law thing….”

But one of our Yale sources wasn’t as enthusiastic:

A tip for you from your alma mater. The nation’s top-ranked law school, which has faced severe pressure on its budget in the last two years, has decided that it can spare the money to invest in – a dog.

Of course, there’s no reason why any law school should ever be investing in pooches for its students, regardless of the budgetary situation. Also, has anyone asked the dog whether it wants to be around a bunch of stressed out law kids? The poor thing.

The budgetary point seems like a non-issue. As you can read in our prior post, Monty appears to be owned by Julian Aiken, a Yale law librarian. Unless Aiken is charging rent to YLS, this should be free to the law school, and a nice perk for the students.

But what about for the dog? The second point — “has anyone asked the dog whether it wants to be around a bunch of stressed out law kids?” — might have legs. Does subjecting a poor dog to a bunch of pretentious Yale law students constitute animal cruelty? As the Booktryst blog wondered when we first wrote about Monty last year, what will happen “if PETA gets wind of the Library’s involvement in the trafficking of this controversial canine tranquilizer”?

Also, what about the liability issues? What if something unfortunate happens to Monty while in the care of a law student? (In my ancestral homeland of the Philippines, dog used to be what’s for dinner.)

Although it seems that students can’t remove Monty from the library premises — “visits will be confined to a dedicated non-public space in the library” — bad things can still happen in a library. Just ask the law students at UC Davis. Or NYU.

Of course, remember that this is just a three-day pilot program; it will be interesting to see how this experiment works out. We’ll keep you posted.

Yale Law School Library Lending Out Therapy Dog for Stressed-Out Students [New York Magazine]
Untested Tranquilizer Circulates At Yale Library [Booktryst]

Earlier: Yale Law School Going to the Dogs?
Who Let the Dog Out? Not the Yale Law Library

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