This semester, there have been many assistance animals on campus in the form of service animals, therapy animals, and emotional support animals. Julie Brown, Director of Academic Success, explained that the most visible assistance animals on campus are service animals because they perform functions or tasks that an individual with a disability cannot perform individually and may accompany their owner to almost any location on campus, including the cafeteria. There are currently 33 assistance animals on campus, three of which are classified as service animals. The remaining 30 are therapy and emotional support animals who can soothe and comfort students but are not allowed to leave an individual’s personal residence, except for hygiene reasons.
Brown stated that, while the assistance animal program has been largely successful, “we still have a problem with students bringing their animals into other dorms and even across campus.”
Students can report any issues regarding assistance animals to their RA, who will inform the Office of Academic Success.
“We don’t usually have a lot of complaints about animals, because we have such strict regulations with them. Obviously, having an animal that’s not approved is against campus policy, so something like that, I’d have to let my supervisors know and go through the protocol there,” said RA Shelby Bowman.
Despite logistical concerns, emotional support and therapy animals are an important part of many students’ lives.
“They make me feel safe, and they can also be there for you sometimes more than other humans. I can cry on my rats and they won’t judge me,” said Alexandra Lambert, a sophomore with two emotional support rats.
More information on assistance animals can be obtained from the Office of Academic Success. The deadline to apply for assistance animal approval for the fall semester is March 1.