Furry friends offer emotional stability on campus

By: Raven Ash

For Megan Jaboor, a senior at Quincy University, nothing provides comfort like her furry friend “Elvis Puursley”. While pets are not typically allowed on Quincy University’s campus, Elvis and many other four-legged pals are permitted to live with their owners inside of dorm halls.

The university’s administration allows emotional support animals to live on campus because they help students who suffer from emotional disabilities.

However, bringing an animal on campus is not an opportunity that every student is eligible for. In order to be allowed an emotional support animal, students must meet a few qualifications.

“You will need a letter from your healthcare professional prescribing an animal and that animal must be part of your treatment plan. You will then need to produce all of the animal’s shots and work with residence life to create a care plan,” Christine Tracy, vice president for student development, said.

An emotional support animal can be defined as an animal that a healthcare professional believes will in some way benefit their patient who has a mental or emotional condition. Emotional support animals are often prescribed to individuals who suffer from anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder or any other disorder that may prevent an individual from going about their usual activities.

 Emotional support animals are not the same as service animals.  Service animals are required to go through a type of training that teaches the animal how to perform certain tasks like helping someone who is visually impaired to walk. Support animals on the other hand, do not require any special training in order to be qualified.

Any animal that provides an emotionally or mentally impaired person with support or well-being through companionship may be considered an emotional support animal as long as a healthcare professional indicates that an emotional support animal is part of the patient’s treatment plan.

Students on Quincy University’s campus say that their pets help them get through negative situations and give them a reason to smile.

“There was one time when I had an awful week, I had a family emergency and a close friend passed away. In my room I was a wreck and Elvis was there to cheer me up. When I left my room, you could not tell that I was upset. If it was not for Elvis, I feel like that week I would have stayed in my room.  Elvis cheered me up and helped me through a tough time,” Jaboor said.

Support animals on campus also give some students the motivation to carry on and keeps their mind at ease during stressful times during the school year.

“He helps me go to sleep at night knowing he is in the room. He also helps me stay positive knowing I have to wake up to walk and feed him,” Gavin Stevens said, while referring to his Cane Corso named Kane.

For more information on emotional support animals, visit the American Kennel Club’s Website. You can also read more on animals on campus in Quincy University’s handbook located on their website.

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