With all the pressure and stress of being a college student, some students relieve their stress with many different methods such as listening to music or going to the gym, but for some students having a furry friend in their life, also known as an emotional support animal (ESA) might be the way to go for them.
An ESA can help students fight anxiety and feelings of loneliness and can be dogs, cats, rabbits and even ferrets along with many other animals. The only animals that are not allowed to be in housing are animals classified as exotic by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
“ I missed my family and pets at home,” said Payton Lanahan a pet-lover who had a difficult time after moving from Pennsylvania to Statesboro. “My doctor actually recommended getting a pet to me when I told him about some of the depression and anxiety I was having since moving to school. I ended up getting a kitten and raising him in Centennial. Now I have three cats and a dog, too.”
Students on campus can go through the Student Accessibility Resource Center (SARC), to inquire about getting approved for an emotional support animal. SARC is located on the second floor of the cone building.
Students must have a valid note from a doctor or therapist informing SARC about what issue a student’s potential ESA would be accommodating while the student is at school and are also discouraged from registering their pets from back home as an ESA just to have them on campus with them.
“The process was extremely easy. I went to the SARC, filled out a simple form and made an appointment for the next day.” said Lanahan. “At my appointment I talked about why I wanted an ESA and presented my doctor’s note. After that I was approved to have an ESA in the dorms that same day.”
Emotional support animals, once approved, are allowed in all campus housing and are not confined to just one housing residency. Applications for ESA can be approved in 1-2 days and will only be denied if the doctor or therapist note is too vague and does not present a valid problem that can be supported by an ESA.
ESA can be extremely helpful for students or anyone who suffers from anxiety or those who just need a furry companion around to keep them at bay. “ I have reaped so many benefits since adopting my ESA, Gata,” said Lanahan. “ I feel like this extra responsibility kind of pulled me out of the emotional issues I was having.”
Some students who suffer from depressive episodes and other mental health issues often have a difficult time getting out of bed or taking care of responsibility. Lanahan said that having an ESA helped her to overcome that.
“I think that having something that relies on you is really comforting to someone going through emotional issues,” said Lanahan. “Just feeling important, and needed by something was really reassuring for me.”Students can receive more details and information regarding requesting an emotional support animal by contacting SARC or visiting their office on the second floor of the Cone building.