Weighing In: A 2014 Alum Discusses Her Experience with Emotional Support Animals

“I had a good experience getting my ESA approved at Wesleyan.”

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Author’s note: This article discusses suicidal thoughts.

Several days ago, we published a feature on one student’s account of dealing with the administration when they kicked her out of her original senior housing and ordered her to remove her Emotional Support Animal from campus. At the end of that post, we had a call for submissions, and a 2014 alum (who wishes to remain anonymous) wrote in with her experience.

If you would like to discuss your dealings with the administration, please email us at staff(at)wesleying(dot)org.

The story is after the jump.

“I want to share my experience having an emotional support animal on campus my senior year, 2013-14, because I think the process was unfairly portrayed in your article. I have PTSD and was struggling with severe depression at the start of senior year, and my doctor, knowing how happy my dog makes me, suggested I try and bring her to campus. I began the process by meeting with Dean Patey at disability services who was more than accommodating and understanding.

After a short discussion, which mainly involved us discussing our mutual appreciation of dogs, I was given a form to fill out and told to meet with Stacey Phelps. Stacey was definitely less friendly and clearly was not happy about the dog in university housing, but there was nothing she could do about it. After a fax from my doctor and vaccine records, my dog was approved, and I had no further interactions with Reslife or Disability Services on the matter. To be clear, the “gargantuan” amount of documentation required is a) one letter from your doctor, b) a short form, c) vaccine records, d) housemate approval forms. I was barely a week out of the hospital for suicidal ideations and was able to complete these tasks, which is not to invalidate someone else’s struggle completing the process, but to express that I was not in great shape myself.

I will add that during the process it was stressed to me that this arrangement was only possible with the approval of all of my housemates. They all signed forms stating they were okay with the dog. In the case described in your article, this girl’s housemates had clear and reasonable issues with having a dog in their apartment, and the school was completely justified in asking her to remove the dog or relocate to different housing. Yes, I can understand the frustration in not being treated as gently as warranted by the situation, but a year and a half after graduating I can tell you this doesn’t get any better. A vast majority of people in this world do not know how to handle mental illness. I personally appreciated the process required because this meant that it was less likely for students to feign emotional issues to get their dog approved, which many students said they wanted to do after seeing mine.

TL;DR–I had a good experience getting my ESA approved at Wesleyan.”

Anonymous ’14