Animals have the power to heal

Omar Ceja, Contributing Writer

Adjusting to a new way of living is difficult for many incoming and current college students. Whether you’re moving to San Antonio by yourself or with friends, the start of a new chapter can lay heavy on one’s chest. A void within your everyday way-of-living is present, and can be filled with the help of a companion — an emotional support animal! Emotional support animals are animals that provide reassurance and comfort through companionship by relieving stress and anxiety. But how can an emotional support animal be beneficial for one’s mind, especially during a time of transition and uncertainty? 

Balancing both a job and school can be very difficult at times, so the addition of an extra responsibility can be overwhelming. Over the weekend I was left to care for Milo, my parents’ seven-year-old mini poodle, as my parents left town for a few days. I was envisioning a long, stressful weekend to kick off the start of the new month, but in fact, the presence of this tiny little creature was therapy for my soul, alleviating the stress that came from the world around me. I was able to grasp a sense of relief and comfort alongside little ol’ Milo. During one of his many naps, as well as on our long walks around the complex, the simplicity of this dog’s life always seemed to relieve me from my rowdy life. Even though Milo lacks a certificate enabling him to legally be an emotional support animal, the comfort provided through his company was enough for me to calm down.

Easing loneliness and providing company is what an emotional support animal can deliver. Comfort that isn’t only found in dogs, but other domesticated animals as well. Guinea pigs can also be certified to become emotional support animals as well as ferrets and mice.   

According to UMass Chan Medical School, “For a person to legally have an emotional support animal, the owner must be considered to have a qualifying mental health or psychiatric disability by a licensed mental health professional.” Transitioning from high school to college can be a big contributing factor to someone’s mental state. Some may not cope well with being apart from family while others flourish. The lack of a companion can be detrimental during a time of stress and uncertainty, and may lead to depression. The responsibility prescribed in caring for an animal can help in establishing a sense of routine for your life, allowing your mind to shift in focus.

 Emotional support animals can help get you through the rough patches in college. Many get homesick and miss their family from time to time, so the help of a little buddy can be beneficial to your emotional and mental state. In other cases, emotional support animals may not always be the answer, maybe an extension to an assignment is all that we need. Undoubtedly, love and support comes in all shapes and sizes, whether it’s beneficial to your current situation or not.