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  • Ta’Neeka DeMyers

Emotional Support Animals ‘Save’ Students’ Attitudes

Students who deal with stress, anxiety, and depression at Olivet College said that having Emotional Support Animals (ESA) in their residence halls have helped them cope with these issues.

Accommodations Coordinator Joey Shepherd said, by email, that ESAs are increasing on all college campuses, including this one. “When I arrived in August 2018, Olivet had 18 ESAs approved to reside on campus. During the 2018-2019 academic year, three additional ESAs were approved. For the current semester, there are 23 approved ESAs on campus,” said Shepherd.

Sophomore Jesmarie Mateo, who has had her Australian Shepherd, Arrow, since he was nine weeks old, said that he helps her to keep herself “sane”. Mateo said, “I don’t think I’d make it through the day if I didn’t have someone to come home to.” She also said that her dog helps “greatly” with her anxiety around people, but “depression wise, that’s where he does most of his work.”

Freshman Dashanay Roldan, said that her dog, Koda, who she has had for three years, said that her stress and anxiety has improved since she got him. She said for the longest time, he was her only friend when she did not have many, and now, she said that she just relies on him a lot. “That dog has helped me through so much that I honestly don’t think I would be here . . . I love him so much . . . I couldn’t function without him.”

One junior who deals with anxiety, bipolar disorder, and depression said that they have had their dog for almost three years now to help them “balance” out all of these symptoms. “When you have exams coming up, and you’re worried about them, he (the dog) can tell immediately if something’s wrong. He’ll come and lay his head on my lap . . . it just kind of eases everything—eases my mind—and just kind of reassures me that I can get through whatever I have to do,” they said.

Students said having ESAs are important to have on campus. The same junior said that having one “benefits” them. They also said that with both grandparents passing away, they would not be able to get themselves out of bed “every day” if it was not for their dog.

Across the nation, statistics said that “mental and emotional” stress for students and their need for ESAs have increased on other university and college campuses, and it will continue to rise throughout years to come.

Fact Box:

Emotional Support Animal (ESA): assistance animal, companion animal that is intended to provide some benefit for a person disabled by mental health condition or emotional disorder.

If you would like to discuss having an ESA on campus, contact Joey Shepherd by email at

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