Here at St. Ambrose University, students can bring their pets onto campus, where they are considered emotional support animals. ESAs and service animals are not the same. An ESA is an animal companion that offers some type of benefit to an individual with some form of disability. SAU has rules and requirements regarding these animals coming onto campus, and who qualifies for them.
Why would someone want to have an emotional support animal? Research has strongly supported that animals can provide significant mental health benefits. Some of those many benefits are less anxiety, trauma support, fewer feelings of loneliness, and reciprocal care and love.
When talking to senior Faith McCubbin, who has her dog Bean registered as an ESA, she couldn’t agree more with that statement.
“ESA’s are important because they relieve stress (which college brings on) and they give you comfort,” McCubbin said. “Bean has helped not only me but also my roommates when we are having a tough day. Bean is so full of life and is always making us laugh and smile.”
The reasons many students may consider getting an ESA can vary, whether you are struggling with mental health or you need some pet therapy, an ESA can help students when times get hard.
Senior Quinnie Rodman has her cat Toad registered as an ESA here at SAU.
“I adopted Toad my sophomore year during the pandemic,” Rodman said. “I had a really tough time being held up in my room all day every day and I was stressed with school and worrying about being sick and keeping my family and friends healthy. I missed my family and my dogs and was having a really hard time.”
Some may think that adding “taking care of a pet” might be stressful, especially for a college schedule. But senior Robin Leibold, stresses how much her ESA Ozzie adds joy to her day-to-day life.
“Ozzie gives me something to look forward to every day,” Leibold said. “He really helps decrease my anxiety and bring more joy into my life.”
As you can see, having an ESA in your life is very beneficial, especially for college students, sometimes you just need a furry friend in your life to soften the stress that comes with campus life.
“I love how cuddly and goofy Bean is,” McCubbin said. “He is always wanting to play, but as soon as he’s done playing he is ready to curl up next to you and take a nap. He is also super intelligent and is very well-behaved for a 7-month-old puppy.”
“My favorite thing about Toad is how silly he is,” Rodman said. “He brings a smile to the face of anyone and everyone who walks into my apartment no matter who they are and he is so loved by all.”
“Ozzie is a very kind-hearted animal,” Leibold said. “He is a really empathetic dog, not just towards me but others as well.”