Comfort Animals

By: Oriana Barrett

Malone University possesses a policy in which students in resident life are not to have any pets other than a fish inside a small tank. Yet, there is a new trend of comfort animals like dogs and geckos appearing on campus.A comfort animal is what the Office of Student Development defines as “an animal that provides emotional support which helps with symptoms of a resident’s documented disability”. Documented disabilities include depression and anxiety disorders. Animals that may trigger allergies or asthma, cause damage to a dorm room, destroy other students’ objects, or otherwise cause risks to the well-being of students or university property are not accepted. Comfort animals are to be trained by their owners, with house training highly encouraged. Pets are not allowed in any other buildings on campus unless they are registered and trained as service animals. This means they are trained to provide services that benefit an individual with a disorder or disability. Comfort animals are allowed outside on campus grounds such as the quad and in parking lots for those with animals that need to relieve themselves. For those that are considering getting a comfort animal, it is important to check with those on your floor for any issues that can occur with your pet such as fear of animals or allergies to fur.“I just went to the [Center for Student Success],” Allegra Haberern, senior political science major, said. Haberern owns a rabbit comfort animal.The Center for Student Success is located in Founder’s Hall. Anna Meadows, Director of Student Accessibility Services, is the staff member to see to get help with the paperwork. “All I had to do was fill out forms and get my doctor’s approval to get my rat,” Danielle Waibel, junior zoo and wildlife biology major, said.Forms are to be filled out by a medical professional such as a doctor or therapist. A signature from a professional is essential for approval.If people still have their doubts about the idea of having comfort animals like large dogs, consider Autumn DeWitt, junior fine arts and crafts major, who possesses a 7-month old golden retriever by the name of Willow. Willow is a people-loving, energetic dog who loves to lick anyone who enters her room. Her favorite toys are tennis balls or a stuffed turtle, which she loves to hide underneath DeWitt’s bed. She does not tend to get hyper unless people call her name out in the hallways or when she is stuck in her room without any visitors. She is good at making sure not to chew on shoes or anyone’s clothing – unless it belongs to DeWitt, who claims to have her socks repeatedly gnawed on. Willow usually sleeps in a cage with the door open and does not bug DeWitt unless she needs to use the restroom. “I’ve gone through rooming with someone,” DeWitt said. “I’ve roomed by myself. But, having a room with Willow is the best decision I’ve ever made.”

 

LXIII Issue No. 4

 

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