Emotional Support Animals at the Valley: A detriment or a benefit?

Tea’ Claus
Staff Writer

Federal_logo_withtext2Courtesy of FEDERALSERVICEDOGREGISTRATION.org | The Hudsonian Student Newspaper

Finals and midterms are a stressful time for any college student. College campuses try to cater to this stress as much as possible, and the newest method of relaxation is the use of Emotional Support Animals.

According to Jan Hoffman of the NY Times, “The calming effect of some domesticated animals has become so widely accepted that many schools bring in trained therapy dogs to play with stressed students during exam periods.”

The National Service Animal Registry states that Emotional Support Animals can include a wide variety of dog breeds, and sometimes even breeds of miniature horses or guinea pigs are acceptable.

Hudson Valley students had varying thoughts about the appearance of furry friends on campus.
Malachi Montgomery, an individual studies major, said that while it may not benefit him, there are students that could find relief in a support animal. “It depends on the person, like, it wouldn’t benefit me, but if it helps another person, by all means go ahead and do it,” said Montgomery.

Shelby Johnson, a psychology major, said, “I think they would be beneficial for students because they can really de-stress with the animals around, and they might be able to calm down before tests.”

Johnson also said that her high school had an Emotional Support Animal on site for students. “We just got one last year, and it went through therapy sessions. I think it’s a good idea.”

Tyler Lee, a paramedic student, said that he thinks it could be helpful having the animals on campus. “I think it would be helpful because you could bring stress levels down a little bit, but not crazy amounts.”

Tylor Alexopoulos agrees.“It would be helpful because people’s heads start racing during finals week and they can’t really comprehend anything they need to. Allowing them to play with a dog or a cat could slow down the pressure and allow them to relax,” he said.

While there are potential issues that could arise from having animals on campus, students don’t seem to think they would cause major problems.

Gabriella Racana, a liberal arts major, was concerned that animals on campus would merely distract students.

Additionally, Montgomery believes a possible problem could arise for students suffering from allergies. He also feels that students could potentially take advantage of the situation.
“People could abuse the power of it to try and get out of studying or something,” said Montgomery.

A number of scientific studies have been performed in order to gain insight into whether or not Emotional Support Animals are actually effective.

According to an article from Psychology Today, the use of animals for psychological reasons has increased astronomically in the last decade. The article echoed the concerns of Montgomery, in that the practice of Emotional Support Animals has been widely abused.

However, there does seem to be some validity as far as stress-relief. Anxiety.org, a commonly visited site for those seeking coping skills, states that, coupled with additional therapy tools, Emotional Support Animals can be quite effective.

If they were allowed on campus, though, students think that there should be rules in place, “I feel like maybe it should be limited to just dogs because I think they are the most well known as Emotional Support Animals,” said one student.

Montgomery added, “There should be a time limit on how much time you should have with [the Emotional Support Animal], depending on what [the animal] is.

More information on Service and Emotional Support animals can be found on The ADA National Network’s website.

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