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Trained for example to help with an anxiety attack or an emotional support animal and the difference is the emotional support animal is giving that comfort and support just by its presence not by some specific tasks that it does. That’s correct , okay listen I I I know you’re probably already have some ideas are some questions or maybe some experience with this weather you’re somebody who works in a kind of a business or an organization that has to think about accommodations for service animals and emotional support animals or maybe you have one . We’d love to know your perspective . We’d love to have some examples and some questions and if you have either of those you can give us a call or number is 806 3-9 2 2-1 one that’s 1-806 3-9 2-2 1-1 or you can post your comments on the Vermont addition page at V-P R.net so John Allen would . This is an issue , as we said at St Michael’s haulage you have , what , about 50 emotional support animals well campus .
Yeah , we had 50 at the end of the last academic year , but some of them character where the animals are the people. Though both and we currently have about 35-36 we have a few requests in the pipeline .
So why are students saying I’d I’d like to bring an emotional support animal to campus to live with me.
It runs the gamut. As you mentioned just a bit ago most it’s depression it could be PTSD . It could be anxiety why what ever the students medical you know professional that they work with thinks any animal will help towards success on a college campus .
You say what a what a medical professional says might help. And here’s one of the distinctions for colleges , I imagine . In particular , because I mean students have always tried to bring their pets to campus and find a way still do that . Yes . So how do you , how do you try to differentiate between somebody who says I actually need this animal , would you say is a legitimate concern versus somebody who says I miss my dog I want my dog and my dorm room .
Well pets are not allowed on campus at all outside of ESA’s or service animals so that makes it very much easier when a student. We have a request process so there they’ll contacted my office and they go through a process and part of that process is documentation of not what their diagnosis is but how an ESA will help them from a licensed medical professionals that all goes through our Bergeron around Wellness center where I nurse practitioner Mary Mason really that’s that . And if there are any questions about what more can we do for the student . Is this the right way to go , she will contact in has permission from the student to contact the medical professional , from there . Alan gonna keep cause it’s kind of a process that has to be a process once the medical pieces is approved our housing folks that those people who will be living in the vicinity of the animal , so if this person lives with a roommate that person , but if they live in a traditional Hall . The entire hall we’ll get notification that an animal has been requested and whatever that animal is cat dog Vera , whatever it is leaving it’s anonymous in they don’t know who is requesting but if they have concerns about that such as I’m most concerned about allergies right allergies beer this trauma around semi animals they contacted me and then we work with the student that’s requesting the animal to find another place to live on campus .
And is that the responsibility of the student cause I imagine I mean figuring out housing on a college campus is already kind of a nightmare. So when you then are trying to figure out how every person on that Hall you know might deal with us with her and emotional support animal in the dorm room . Does that make it even trickier .
Well , I think it’s it’s it’s complex. That’s why when the the persons of going through the request process we lay it out for them . You know , we want to support you . We want you to be successful here , but this is about you . It’s about the community that you’ve chosen to live in and one to go through that final place live it’s about that animal , not that we’re taking care of animals . Don’t get me wrong , but if that animal is not being cared for properly . We know about it . And we , we , we have the ability to remove animals and we , we have done that in the past because of of negligence S at one time a dog was a little aggressive with people other animals , so we just have to in , we keep the student we communicate a lot me a lot with with the student to understand the responsibility of having any animal , especially on a college campus , which is a very active place .
You know , Karen Richards mentioned that housing is one area where emotional support animals have a little bit more , more of a right to be because housing is different from some other public spaces and and at St Mike’s you allowed these emotional support animals to live in the dorm with a student. But they’re not allowed to go to class or go to the dining hall or to go to other campus pieces . No .
Just in their residents in there , why not. But because it’s , it’s , it’s , this is an accommodation I’ll use that word for them to be able to rest stabilize breath bringing this animal it’s not approved to go anywhere else as service animals a whole different story . You know if , and we’ve had students inquire with faculty members can I look pick my my dog to class and faculty members call us and say is this service cause we don’t broadcast that right . It’s just it’s for personal living a combination . It’s not for test taking like there are different things that would happen in a classroom for service animal . We have , we have one on campus right now and make one or 2 . We have to vet the class and let them know that there , there will be any animal in the classroom and we have the whole process and we , and we we accommodate that and it works well . But the ESA is purely for personal use in in lodging in in the apartment or the residence hall .
Karen Richards we’ve probably all heard stories about airlines specifically where there seems to be , or the the the sort of rap is that people want to take their pets onto the plane with them and so they’re claiming that it’s an emotional support animal and then you’ve got a pot-bellied pig on the plane with you , are you seeing this in Vermont , are you seeing either an expansion of people who are saying I have a serve and emotional support animal or people who may be sort of a using the system to try to get a pet to be able to go with them to a place.
So just to be clear the airlines have a completely different set of criteria they go under Department of Transportation requirements and they’re not under the Americans with Disabilities Act or the state law the equivalent state law which we enforce.
So they don’t have to accommodate the ADA.
They follow their own Department of Transportation rules with regard to the animals. Got it , okay , yeah got so go on . Okay . So with regard to whether we’re seeing an uptick in people taking animals into places of public accommodation , where they may not be service animal that has been specially trained . I think the , that because animals that are not dogs and are not train service animals are allowed in housing . I think there are people who are confused about the ability to then take them everywhere they go and really an assistance the animal and emotional support animal in a housing setting is only allowed in that setting . Not in a place of public accommodation , and less of this specially trained . So I think there’s some confusion about out there among consumers . But I also think there are people who are , who may be taking a bit of advantage of it and the issue with that is really that that affects the people who really do need a service animal because then people start questioning everyone and the people that legitimately have a train service animal that it’s the same as any other assisted assistive device like a wheelchair are now in the place of being questioned all the time . So it’s really a disservice to those individuals with disabilities who require a service animal to help them .
Let me ask you a clarifying question on that because you’re talking about service animals in and again to go overweight you you described as the distinction between an emotional support animal in a service animal is that a service animal has been trained to assist directly with somebody’s disability and so emotional support animals are you skeptical of the whole idea I’m emotional support animals or just a pupil horse who are using this categorization to sort of get by with a pet.
I am , I am so I guess I miss. It’s a little bit of both . So people who have emotional support animals who that are not specially trained maybe trying to pass them off as service animals inappropriately and there may be people who also have pets who are trying to pass them off as either service animals are emotional support animals .
Do you buy the idea that a pet Kenneth assessed as an emotional support animal just by its presence , for someone who’s dealing with depression or dealing with anxiety or PTSD.
Absolutely. I have 2 dogs myself . They definitely helped me .