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BG Falcon Media

Independent student content

BG Falcon Media

Independent student content

BG Falcon Media

The BG News
BG24 Newscast
November 30, 2023

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Emotional Support Animals benefit students at BGSU

Students adopt animals to help get through challenging times on and off campus
[LEFT] Ziggy and their owner Elle. [MIDDLE] Bellatrix and their owner Macy. [RIGHT] Paisley and their owner Ashton.

Emotional support animals (ESAs) help to provide assistance and relieve symptoms of emotional and mental disabilities such as anxiety, depression, OCD and more. 

According to Therapy Pet, “ESAs have a profound effect on an individual’s psychological state. ESAs provide comfort and can prevent an individual from feeling isolated and lonely.”

Living away from home can be a struggle, and many students have shared that having their pets at college has empowered them. While they are not service animals, students and people can legally obtain an ESA certification for their pets online.

An ESA certification ensures that the handler protects their rights surrounding the ownership of their animal and their right to have their animal with them in their home. By registering an ESA, the owner will receive an animal ID card with the animal’s photo, legal information about their (owner’s) rights as well as a certificate with a prescription letter for the ESA.

In order for an on-campus student to get approval for an ESA, they have to go through BGSU Accessibility Services. On the BGSU Accessibility Services website, there is a form titled, “Specialized Housing Accommodations Form.” From there, the student answers questions regarding their situation and their request is processed.

“They (students) can ask their RA or hall director in their building for more information because it is not supposed to be like bringing your pet to school. Students can expect a short meeting with the hall director of their assigned residence hall to discuss the policies and sign an ESA agreement,” said third-year RA, Elle Walters.

Students with ESAs on campus are not guaranteed to live alone unless they request another specialized living form on the BGSU website. Off-campus, policies differ depending on the house or apartment.

“It can be difficult having a roommate with an ESA. Last year I was still in the process of training my ESA so my roommates were not a big fan of her because she was young. This year has been so much easier and I have a roommate that loves her just as much as I do,” said fifth-year student Ashton Byers.

Byers said she looked for an ESA after her doctor recommended she get one to help cope with her chronic anxiety and depression. 

“My dog has learned to make me aware when I am starting to have a panic attack. Being able to have my dog on campus and in classes is very beneficial for the days I’m feeling extra anxious and need a little extra support.”

The importance of having an ESA is a need many students experience and Byers said she hopes more people can understand how they benefit their handlers.

“Everyone knows about service animals for people with physical disabilities, but people don’t always understand the true need for an ESA. A lot of people think it’s just an excuse for me to take a dog everywhere I go,” said Byers.

Mental health is a crucial aspect of overall well-being and it is especially important for college students to prioritize their mental health. Neglecting mental health can lead to a variety of issues, including poor academic performance.

“My cat has helped me tremendously and I couldn’t imagine what my life would be like without her now. I think I would’ve gone very downhill if she hadn’t come into my life,” said second-year student Macy Bowlin.

For students, an ESA can offer a sense of security, stability and unconditional love. They can help reduce stress, provide a calming presence and improve overall well-being.

ESA’s can help students feel more connected to their environment and community, providing a sense of purpose and meaning. Overall, an ESA can help students cope with the challenges of college life, providing a valuable source of emotional support and companionship.

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About the Contributor
Laura Sandlin, BG News Managing Editor

Managing Editor

News Meetings: Mondays at 6 p.m. Office Hours: Thurs. 1:00 - 3:00 p.m.
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