Registering dog as emotional support animal
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I Registered My Dog As An Emotional Support Animal And You Should Too

Because pet rent is a joke.

I Registered My Dog As An Emotional Support Animal And You Should Too
Caitlin Via

Before we get started, let me put one thing out there. An emotional support animal is not the same as a service animal. An emotional support animal is most basically, a comfort companion.

The animal is not expected to complete any specialized task or provide any physical assistance outside of emotional support. A service animal is a dog trained to perform specialized life-tasks for the benefit of an individual with a registered disability. I am a firm believer in the emotional benefits that animal companionship provides, however, I am strongly opposed to the abuse of emotional support animal privileges (i.e. people trying to take them places they're not allowed) and an advocate for service dogs and their rights.

Caitlin Via

So obviously, the best doggo around is my pup, Cami—a six-year-old yellow Labrador Retriever that has been the center of my whole world since 8th grade. Cami had been my source of comfort, cuddle buddy, and best friend for years—until I had to leave her when I moved out of my mother's house and down to Orlando for college.

I went a long year and half without Cami, due to the fact that I was living in a dorm and trying to survive life on my own. During this hectic (and downright awful) first year, I dumped my high school boyfriend that I had moved down with after he became abusive, I started a new job a forty-five-minute commute from campus, and I failed two classes and lost my full-ride scholarship. Oh, and I was the victim of a severe car accident that totaled my paid-off car—hooray for life in Orlando!

Caitlin Via

It wasn't until last fall when I was making arrangements to move into off-campus housing that the possibility of Cami coming to live with me ever crossed my mind. The apartment complex that my roommates and I had chosen accepted pets! A novelty in the world of college housing! So I called the apartment's student-run office to get more information. The strange phone conversation went a little something like this:

Me: "Hi, I just signed my lease to move in next month, but I recently noticed that you guys accept pets. If I brought my dog, how would that work?"

Office girl: "Well, are you registering her as an emotional support animal?" with her impatient, snooty tone.

Me: "Well, um, no. Should I?"

Office girl: "Well if not it's a $350 pet deposit and then a $25 pet rent per month."

Excuse me, a $350 deposit?! Now the $25 pet rent I understand and was expecting. That's pretty standard for anywhere in Orlando, but a $350 deposit? That's more than Cami's vaccines, dog food, and nail trimmings for the entire year. I love my dog, but that's a lot of money. Especially for a struggling college student with no financial help outside of what she earns herself.

So of course, if there was an option for Cami to live rent-free, I had to look into it.

(Also, there's no freaking excuse for a pet deposit to be so expensive. What kind of actual damage is a dog going to do besides get hair everywhere? Hair vacuums up! We really need to talk about why there's no mandatory deposit for housing children under five. They're the destructive ones. Anyway, I digress.)

Caitlin Via

I don't agree with how normalized Snooty Girl on the phone made getting an emotional support animal sound. Because it's not. I learned that while emotional support animals are permitted to live in pet-free housing and are exempt from all residential pet fees, they are only granted to those with diagnosed mental or emotional disabilities where an animal can provide substantial relief and comfort.

And according to the official ESA website, a diagnosed mental or emotional disability is anything from stress, seasonal depression, PTSD, anxiety, insomnia ADHD, ADD, to multiple personality disorder, schizophrenia, severe depression, and bipolar disorder.

Caitlin Via

Though at this point in my life, I was experiencing a lot of stress from school and some anxiety and major insomnia from my recent car accident, so I figured I had a good chance at qualifying for an emotional support animal. So I set up a time online for a appointment with a qualified mental health professional through an ESA registration website and awaited my diagnosis.

I met with a sweet mental health counselor lady from Massachusetts who spent almost an hour talking to me about my life and the crazy events from the past year over a semi-awkward Skype counseling session. I talked to her about my trouble sleeping and fear of driving since the head-on collision only months before, and the stressful issues I'd been having with school. She, of course, agreed that having my dog with me would help alleviate stress, calm my nighttime anxiety, and get me outside more often—which helps prevent depression.

Caitlin Via

The next month, Cami and I made the drive to our new home together in Orlando. She's now been living with me for over four months, and I couldn't be happier. She helps me get up in the morning with her sweet persistence to go outside and potty, and we make trips to the nearby dog park regularly. She gets me out of the house during the day and snuggles me to sleep at night. She's cuddled up next to me now as I write this. She's definitely changed my quality of life for the better.

Caitlin Via

If you, like me, struggle with any mental or emotional disability—even something as common as stress or anxiety—I highly recommend you look into the benefits of an emotional support animal. (And if you don't already have a pup in mind, then you should adopt!) Because puppy love is the best medicine there is.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

100 Things I'd Rather Do Than Study

Procrastination Nation, unite.

Panda Whale
Here are 100 things I'd rather to than study. I know the semester just started, but

    1. Watch a movie
    2. Take a nap
    3. Have a dance party
    4. Eat ice cream
    5. Bake a cake
    6. Cry just a little bit
    7. Knit a blanket
    8. Learn to ride a bike
    9. Build a crib
    10. Watch a hockey game
    11. Watch any game
    12. Play with my hair
    13. Dye my hair
    14. Go grocery shopping
    15. Learn to crochet
    16. Do 50 jumping jacks
    17. Drive cross country
    18. Take a bubble bath
    19. Squeeze lemons for lemonade
    20. Sell the lemonade
    21. Make heart-shaped ice cubes
    22. Moisturize my knees
    23. Paint my nails
    24. Find the cure for cancer
    25. Run a marathon
    26. Just kidding, run down the hall
    27. Squat my bodyweight
    28. Eat my bodyweight in French fries
    29. Hibernate until Christmas
    30. Cuddle my body pillow (unless you have a boo)
    31. Think about all the work I’m not doing
    32. Wash my bed sheets
    33. Vacuum my apartment
    34. Play mini golf
    35. Go swimming
    36. Tan in this Texas heat
    37. Sing like I’m about to win American Idol
    38. Blow up balloons
    39. Pop the balloons
    40. Make lists
    41. Write an Odyssey article
    42. Pet a puppy
    43. Adopt a puppy
    44. Pay my rent
    45. Order a pizza
    46. Start a garden
    47. Cook a turkey
    48. Find new music
    49. Clean my waffle iron
    50. Learn to make jam
    51. Jam to music
    52. Play scrabble
    53. Volunteer anywhere
    54. Celebrate a birthday
    55. Watch a makeup tutorial I’ll never use
    56. Go through old pictures on my phone
    57. Make a playlist
    58. Take a shower
    59. Clean my room
    60. Curl my hair
    61. Climb a rock wall
    62. Get a massage
    63. Play with Snapchat filters
    64. Roast a chicken
    65. Go fishing
    66. Chug some Snapple
    67. Ride in a cart around Walmart
    68. Count the days until the semester is over
    69. Overthink about my future
    70. Think of my future baby’s names
    71. Pin everything on Pinterest
    72. Text anybody
    73. Pray about life
    74. Watch a sunset
    75. Watch a sunrise
    76. Have a picnic
    77. Read a book (that’s not for school)
    78. Go to a bakery
    79. Snuggle a bunny
    80. Clean my apartment
    81. Wash my dishes
    82. Rearrange my furniture
    83. Physically run away from my problems
    84. Make some meatballs
    85. Learn to make bread
    86. Google myself
    87. Ride a Ferris wheel
    88. Get stuck on a Ferris wheel (that way, it’s not my fault I’m not studying)
    89. Wash my car
    90. Get on a plane to Neverland
    91. Find Narnia in my closet
    92. Jump on a trampoline
    93. Learn to ice skate
    94. Go rollerblading
    95. Ride a rollercoaster
    96. Carve a pumpkin
    97. Restore water in a third world country
    98. FaceTime my family
    99. Hug my mom
    100. Tell my friends I love them

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