Don’t make a mockery of my emotional support animal

The Wichitan

Jaylon Williams

Initially, I was hesitant to bring my emotional support animal to campus. I saw Cocoa as a walking symbol of my struggle with my mental health. I hated  when people asked me how I managed to get a dog in the dorms.

After explaining that she is an emotional support animal, I got the most uncomfortable looks, and I felt as though they were judging me. I felt as though my privacy was being invaded whenever people would question me about why I was allowed to have Cocoa.

However, I soon realized this mentality was selfish.

Having Cocoa gave me a prime opportunity to advocate for mental health, so there was no reason for me to feel ashamed. I had people asking me about the process, so they could see about getting an emotional support animal as well.

I was more than willing to direct them to disability services because I was glad that I could do my part in helping people gain control of their mental illness.

Unfortunately, there are always ignorant people who want to ruin a good thing for everyone else.

I’ve had people approach me saying things like, “I just have to pretend something is wrong with me, and I’ll be allowed to have a dog, right?” or “I have a family member who’s a psychiatrist, and they are going to write me a letter so I can have a dog.” It sickens me to know that people are so willing to take advantage of a system that is actually trying to help students struggling with mental health.

People like this are undermining those who are actually trying to advocate for emotional support animals and service animals.

I would like to emphasize that I would not have my ESA here if I did not need her. She is trained to respond to commands, and she knows how to deal with my panic attacks. These are things she learned herself or had to be taught. I love Cocoa with my whole heart, but she was my last hope in gaining control of my mental illness.

I go to counseling, and I take antidepressants on top of having her there to handle my anxiety. I cannot stress enough that I would not have my dog living on this campus unless I needed her. This is why I am so disheartened by all of the people trying to abuse the help that disability services has to offer. Most of these people who ask about ESA’s just want to be approved to have puppies to keep in their dorms or apartments. This is making a mockery of those who actually are in need of these animals for their physical or mental disabilities.

Jaylon Williams is a sociology senior.