There are too many ‘fake’ emotional support animals


College can be a difficult time for many young adults. Attending classes, meeting the expectations of professors and keeping up a grade-point average can take a toll on students.

In addition, many may find it particularly difficult to be away from family and friends as well as significant others. Many people try finding some type of activity to help cope with the overwhelming emotions, and  oftentimes look to furry companions —often referred to as emotional support animals.

An emotional support animal can bring many benefits to a stressed out student. ESA pets are known to offer emotional and mental health benefits to pet owners. Things like companionship, and reduced levels of stress lessen isolation, and one of the biggest things being that they reduce anxiety. Additionally, ESA pets offer their owners a sense of security and familiarity. This reduces anxiety and encourages them to stay calm when they have been introduced to a new environment or new people.

While ESA pets are very beneficial to those who need them, many tend to misuse the title and description of what an ESA pet is, for their own personal benefit. Working in student housing I often come across students who illegally house pets in their apartment homes due to not wanting to pay the required pet fees that are required when registering their animals.

Students sometimes try to register their animal as an ESA pet just to avoid the fees, and also to avoid any breed restrictions the pet may violate.

To make matters worse for those of us responsible for maintaining the rules at apartment complexes, there are many outlets that are available for people to do this illegally and  make it look legit.

Acts such as this puts apartment management companies in a difficult spot because representatives can’t ask what services the pets are providing or if a person is disabled. Also, if a person is only registering their pet as an ESA just to keep an aggressive breed, it puts the safety of other residents at risk.

While I understand having a pet to many is cool and beneficial, owning a pet comes with responsibilities. So, if a person cannot afford all the fees that come with a pet whether it’s medical or registration they shouldn’t have one. They especially shouldn’t be falsifying documents to register their animals either.

For people with disabilities, trained service animals play an absolutely vital role. They make it possible for those with disabilities to work, travel, stay safe and, in some cases, stay alive.

By falsely claiming that your pet is a service animal in order to bring it into a restaurant with you or take it on the bus, you are not only inconveniencing others who have to put up with your animal. You are poisoning attitudes toward true service animals, and leading bystanders and proprietors to believe others may be “faking it.”

In addition, if you enter a facility where an actual service animal is working, your untrained animal may jeopardize the safety of the service animal and its handler. And, you may also be breaking the law.

Leave your pet at home and allow true service animals to do their jobs.