As college students across the country head to school, institutes are receiving more requests for emotional support animals.
"It started with a trickle 3-4 years ago, but for some reason this year seems to be the floodgates are open and students are asking more and more about therapy animals,” Matthew Cooper, of Quinnipiac University, said.
Cooper said most of their requests are for cats and dogs, but they've also had one for a ferret and a bunny.
The same goes for Connecticut College.
"We have had requests for snakes, where I was in the past, we actually had a request for a groundhog,” Noel Garrett with Connecticut College Dean for Academic Support said.
According to the Americans with Disabilities National Network, emotional support animals can provide companionship, relieve loneliness and sometimes help with depression, anxiety, and certain phobias.
Unlike service animals, emotional support animals don't require any special training. People can have anything from a tortoise to a bird or even a guinea pig.
But, there are some mixed opinions among college students.
"I would be OK if it was a dog or a cat but a snake or a hamster...no,” CCSU student Rain Peoples said.
"I'm a fan of all animals, so it wouldn't be a problem at all,” CCSU student Michael Lamont said.
Emotional support animals are covered by the Fair Housing Act, but a person is required a note from their doctor.
College officials said it’s a delicate balance of meeting the needs of the student requesting the animal and the campus community as a whole, especially those allergic or afraid.
"If a dog is going to help them get through the day, well go for it,” Cooper said. “I think that's a great thing."
"For something like a snake that was yeah,” Garrett said. “We have to really be concerned about what happens if that snake gets out."
College can be stressful and for those who need a little extra tender loving and care. Sometimes a four legged friend, big or small, can be the best medicine.
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