What it’s like living with Emotional Support Dog at School

Jessica and ColbyIf you take a look around UConn’s campus you will find yourself running into at least one emotional support animal (ESA) whether you’re outside or not. UConn’s definition of a emotional support animal is any animal specifically designated by a medical provider that eases the symptoms of an individual’s disability. They are known to be as companion, therapeutic or assistance animals but are not actual service animals and don’t have the same privileges as them. An approved ESA owned by an individual who lives in the school’s housing is allowed within the private living accommodations.

My roommate Laura has an emotional support dog named Colby, who she raised from a pup. Being at school without Colby for the past three years was really difficult for her because her anxiety and depression only got worse as the semesters went by. By senior year, (2018-2019) she knew she needed to get her ESA on campus. She decided to reach out to her therapist who helped her by writing a letter to the Center of Disabilities (CSD). After reading through all her documentation, Reslife and CSD agreed that having Colby in the apartment would be a huge benefit to Laura. Reslife then asked all her roommates including me, to write them an email saying that we all agree to living with Colby, since we do have the living room and kitchen as a shared space. For some people, a dog coming into an apartment could be something negative for them just because some people don’t like animals, specifically dogs, but for me as someone who has lived with cats my entire life it was the start of some great. Others, don’t understand the responsibility that comes with having an ESA, especially during college. It’s the responsibility of making sure someone is at the apartment at all times, making sure they are walked to use the bathroom and picking up their “business” outside, and to make sure they are fed at their designated times. This responsibility can be a lot to handle especially during exams, midterms and even finals.

This semester, my Mondays start at 9am and don’t end till 9pm, so after a tiring day it’s awesome to return back home to Colby who is as just as excited to see me as how I am to be home. It’s even better on the nights you need someone to cuddle with because what Colby does best is sleep and also snores! She is a great way to escape reality for a little bit and just to hang around with when I’m feeling lonely. It has even helped when I was taking Animal Anatomy & Physiology last semester, and I had to memorize some bones. Most of the times, my breaks at my apartment consisted of me grabbing a snack and shouting “Business?!” to Colby to take a nice walk around my apartment complex. If this isn’t an option; other than having an ESA on campus, UConn Health Education also hosts Pet Therapy every week in the Relaxation Station where students can hang out with therapy dogs and relax. Paws to Relax is another opportunity during finals week where they come to the library’s first floor!

Citation- UConn Policy