Why is it so difficult to get an emotional support animal on campus?

Sarah Emily D'Agostino, A&E Editor

Emotional Service Animals (ESA) are a type of assistance animal that alleviates a symptom or effect of a person’s disability. 

An ESA is not merely a pet and is generally not restricted by species, meaning that it could be a dog, cat, pig, bird, etc. 

With that being said, ESA’s are not considered to be at the same level at service animals since service animals are meant to perform specific tasks, whereas ESA’s are meant to provide support, comfort, aid and companionship. 

Within different forms of mental disabilities, there can be a disconnect from the people around you which can cause negative reactions. ESA’s make it possible for those with mental disabilities to feel love and compassion that they maybe don’t feel in their day-to-day life otherwise. 

There is a level of federal law included, as someone must have a defined disability, such as being diagnosed with anxiety, depression, bi-polar disorder or one of the many other mentally debilitating diseases that goes by physically unnoticed.

These laws, though, do also protect those who have ESA’s from those who simply don’t respect the need for animals in different contexts.

Now, the process to be federally approved for an ESA is merely having documentation from any medical professional expressing mental disability.

The procedure for having an ESA on our college campus is much different. 

The process to be able to have an ESA on Bloomsburg’s campus is rather difficult. I know that a lot of students suffer from anxiety and depression (among other things) and these things tend to go untreated while still in university. 

The school itself is aware of the anxiety that haunts its students as they bring in dozens of dogs for anxiety each semester. 

This should mean that the university was open to service animals and ESA’s, but in fact, it can take months to get everything together and you still may not be approved. 

Why is it so hard? Why does the school make it so difficult to have an animal that you obviously need more than want? 

The only thing that has been made clear is that the university can suffer from liabilities if students who don’t truly need animals have them on campus. 

However, I don’t think a university that puts limits and funding cuts on counseling really have a strong leg to stand on with this topic.  

Sarah Emily is a senior English major and Arts and Entertainment Editor for the Voice.