Number of emotional support animals increasing on campus


Photo submitted by Morgan Merrill

by Alyssa Craven, Staff Writer

The amount of emotional support animals is growing at Simpson College. According to Monica Lewis, director of student of student accessibilities, there are roughly 20 emotional support animals on campus.

Students have to go through several steps before they are allowed to have an emotional support animal on campus. The first step to have an emotional support animal on campus is to contact Lewis in order to receive all of the paperwork needed.

“The biggest part that we need is documentation from a professional stating what your diagnosis, disability, and or condition is. Also why it warrants an emotional support animal,” Lewis said.

Morgan Merrill, a senior majoring in music and theater, has an emotional support cat named Mia. Going through the process to get an emotional animal was a hassle for her.

“People think that getting an emotional support animal is something really easy and something that you can just bring onto campus, but it was about a month and a half process for me,” Merrill said.

Emotional support animals help people struggling with their mental health. Having an animal can help the owner feel better and less stressed.

“It’s really nice knowing that if I need help I can go home. Just take fifteen minutes alone to get my mind off whatever was going on and cuddle with my cat,” Merrill said. 

“I definitely think having something to rely on that needs me helps me also take care of myself. Because if I can’t take care of myself, then I can’t take care of my cat,” she said.

Although the emotional support animal program has helped students on campus, it also can be abused. According to Psychology Today, websites like Amazon have made it easy to purchase fake documents and vests that seem official by paying a few hundred dollars. Even though it is illegal, people still use these websites to be able to get their pet certified.

“Fake emotional support animals kind of irks me because it’s kind of like you’re making fun of a disability that I have just because you want to see your animal more often,” Merrill said.

Lewis said she has not encountered any of these fake documents. Simpson goes through an extensive process to make sure the student needs the emotional support animal.

Simpson has an animal policy allowing emotional support animals. The animal is the student’s responsibility. The student would have to pay for any damages the pet causes in their dorm. Emotional support animals are not allowed to be in public buildings. They must remain in the student’s private space. If the animal is transported, it must be on a leash or kept in a carrier.

For questions regarding emotional support animals contact Monica Lewis, director of student of student accessibilities.