One of the most bleak ways one can feel is alone, but unfortunately, the disarray of college life has a way of making most college students feel just that at times. Some students may have mental illnesses that exacerbate this already too-common adolescent disposition, so they might seek out an emotional support animal for an extra boost out of bed in the morning.
In theory, this sounds like a win for everyone involved: a dog gets some love and a student some encouragement. In practice though, this is not always the case. In my time at NSU, I have seen what I consider an ideal service animal relationship that involved lots of nurture, but I have also heard of students who neglect to give their pet the love they need.
Keeping any animal, regardless of reason, requires taking responsibility for not only the animal’s physical health but its psychological health as well. Pets need plenty of exercise, access to open space, lots of playtime, and a regular feeding schedule. Still, with small dorm rooms, a full academic plate, and a college student’s budget, fulfilling a pet’s need takes more dedication than some students are willing to give. On more than one occasion, I have heard stories of students with emotional support pets who leave them cooped up in their rooms while in class or spending time with friends. This situation is completely unfair to the animal in question. If a student wants an emotional support animal, they should first question if they need it and then be frank with themselves about whether or not they are prepared to be responsible for it. Afterall, with loneliness being such a bleak state, one’s answer to loneliness should never be so botched as to create more of it for another being.