In the past few years the applications for Emotional Support Animals have greatly increased. Colleges are having a hard time keeping up with the student applications for these animals. Meredyth Goodwin, director of the Access Center at Washington State University says in the article There’s been a spike in university ‘enrollments’ of emotional support animals “In 2011, she recalls receiving only three requests for ESAs. Since 2013, she said, “We have received up to 75 requests a year.” Currently, she estimates that there are 200 ESAs living with students on WSU’s campus.”
As college students embrace the life of being a responsible adult there are certain aspects that can be overwhelming. The pressure of passing examines, completing homework assignments, being away from family, and bills can lead to depression and anxiety. These mental illnesses can lead to grades dropping, lack of socialization, and motivation. Emotional Support Animals(ESA) help students cope with the demands of college and emotional dilemmas.
These animals are generally not trained and usually family pets. An ESA must be small enough to fit in a dorm comfortably so farm animals and other wildlife is not advised. They are required to be house trained and be friendly to other students. Colleges may have various rules, regulations, or regular check ups with the office that an ESA owner must comply with.
To get an ESA, a student must follow a step-by-step process to be approved. They would have to write a statement about how their illness has affected their work ethic, grades, and other relative topics. Then they would have their psychiatrist write about their condition and how an ESA would benefit them. These documents would be sent to their college office and within a few weeks either be approved or denied. Most applications for an ESA are verified and approved quickly.
However there are students who will pay for false documents to get an ESA. These applications can be clearly identified and denied. Meredyth Goodwin said “We see around 10 letters each year from the same therapist based in Hawaii…and if the person grew up in Idaho it’s, like, ‘hmmm,’ help me understand this therapeutic relationship.” There are other complications to having an ESA.
College employees have the obligation to protect all students. They must take this into consideration when approving ESA applications. There are students who may have allergies or fears to certain animals. Most colleges won’t accept animals that are aggressive and pose a potential danger to their students.
Students should contemplate the responsibility of taking care of an ESA before applying. They must be fed, cleaned up after, receive needed attention and exercise. If an ESA is a dog they need to be let out during the day to use the bathroom. There is also finding someone to watch them when at class or having a night out. ESAs, like any other animal, need regular vet check-ups which can be expensive.