Support, not service

Caitlyn Oliver

Roaming through the halls of Centennial Place is Beau. Beau goes to his classes everyday and walks along the pedestrium with the rest of the student body, but one thing sets Beau apart from everyone else: he is a dog.

Kristen Daniels, an undeclared freshman, is the first student at Georgia Southern University to have an emotional support animal (ESA).

She has an Australian shepherd named Beau who lives with her on campus and goes with her to most of her classes.

“As long as I tell my teachers ahead of class, there’s no problem bringing him with me. I just can’t bring him to labs,” Daniels said.

According to the Emotional support animals are not as well-known as service animals and caused some confusion amongst GSU housing staff.

“A lot of the housing staff had never heard of an ESA, or they had never had to deal with one’s presence before, so they had to make all kinds of new rules, and the housing director told me that my dog would be the first non-service animal to live in housing on-campus in the history of the university,” Daniels said.

Getting approval to allow Beau to live in a dorm with a student took almost six months. The process started before the first SOAR session over the summer and many changes had to be made to accommodate a unique situation.

“I just hope that this breaks down the wall and makes it a little easier for the next person,” Daniels said. “I was honestly shocked this hadn’t happened before because of all the studies done on the psychological effects of having a support animal.

Emotional support animals help those with emotional problems by providing support and comfort when dealing with depression, anxiety and other conditions.

Daniels said, “A couple of years ago, I was diagnosed with depression, anxiety, a little bit of OCD thrown in there, little bit of panic disorder, just a lot of chemical imbalances. Having Beau is just an overall stress reduction.”