Emotional Support Animals in College
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8/13 10 Things You Should Know About the Emotional Support Animal in My Dorm

What we want to tell you, but never say.

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My own ESA, Amethyst

1. No, I don't have my ESA so that I can break the "no pets" rule in the residence halls.

There's actually a tedious process in getting your pet registered as an ESA at a University. You first have to have a diagnosis then get a letter from a psychiatrist, psychologist, or therapist that states how having the animal could alleviate the symptoms of your diagnosis.

Once you have those things, you have to register with Disability Support Services on campus and still have them approve your ESA to stay with you. With that being said…

2. Yes, I do actually need my pet.

My ESA provides me with a sense of comfort, safety, and companionship that I'm not able to find in another person, object, or activity. My pet reduces the struggles that come with my diagnoses. I love my animal just like you love yours; the difference is that I rely on mine just a little more for support.

3. Just because my disabilities aren't visible doesn't mean they aren't there.

More times than not, ESAs are depended upon to relieve the symptoms of anxiety, depression, PTSD, and a variety of mood disorders. These disorders don't necessarily have physical attributes but are chemical imbalances in the brain. My imbalances affect me just as most physical impairments would.

4. Please don't ask me to justify my ESA to you.

If you become aware of my pet being an Emotional Support Animal, your next question should not be "what do you have?" Please accept the fact that both I and a medical professional believe that an animal would help me feel better, so please try to do the same.

5. I also do not need any suggestions on other coping mechanisms.

"Well, have you tried {insert suggestion here} instead?" "Maybe if you {insert suggestion here} you wouldn't need a Support Animal." I understand that you're probably trying to be kind and offer me support, but I have learned plenty of coping skills on my own and from my therapist.

6. Emotional Support Animals are not the same as Service Animals.

Service Animals provide a physical service. This can be in the form of guiding, detecting seizures, hearing, etc. Emotional Support Animals provide comfort and companionship to those in need of them. This also means…

7. ESAs do not have the same rules as Service Animals.

The vast majority knows that you aren't supposed to interact with a Service Animal while it's on duty; it distracts them from doing their job properly and negatively affects their owners. What about ESAs? Speaking for myself, you are more than welcome to pet my ESA if you ask first. I want her to be as useful to you as she is to me.

8. Basically, any animal can be an ESA.

Don't assume that my pet doesn't emotionally support me just because it's not a stereotypical ESA. Some people find comfort in their dog, while some find it in their lizard.

9. No, my ESA cannot go everywhere I go.

Unlike a Service Animal, my ESA is a live-in pet only. She can live with me in my residence hall, visit hotels with me, and board a plane with me. Since there is no service provided, she cannot go to the store, classes, or the dining halls with me.

10. My ESA lives with me-- you do not.

If you don't like animals, you don't have to enter our room. I'm not going to put my animal up or locked away because you would prefer it. You are a guest in OUR home.

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