Macy Garrison lives off campus with her emotional support dog, Stella, that helps her ease depression.
“I have always been someone who has struggled to make friends, and I knew that coming here would be hard for me to adapt, ” Garrison said. “Struggling with depression, I needed something to keep my mind off of it.”
Garrison, a sophomore business management major, hopes to have her emotional support dog certified and approved by Temple.
Emotional support animals can provide support for owners who experience mental illnesses, like anxiety or depression. Temple students can apply to have their animal certified for emotional assistance.
University Housing and Residential Life describes an emotional assistance animal as, “any animal that is specifically designated by a qualified medical provider as affording an individual with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling, provided there is a link between the individual’s disability and the assistance the animal provides.”
A student must fill out a disability request to allow their animal to live with them in university housing. Students must keep up-to-date vaccination forms for their animal, along with maintaining its hygiene and controlling its behavior.
Once the disability request is approved, UHRL meets with the student to review university policies and procedures, said Shana Alston, director of University Housing and Residential Life.
Liv Tempesta, a junior art therapy major, went through Temple’s assistance animal approval process to allow her cat to live with her at Johnson Hall. It took her a couple of weeks to receive a letter from a Temple therapist, explaining why she requires an emotional support animal.
The process was straightforward and she benefited from her having her cat with her on campus, Tempesta said.
“Having [an emotional support animal] is just another type of treatment opportunity, especially for people who love animals,” she added.
Caring for an emotional support animal can help students experiencing mental illness stick to a routine. Illnesses, like depression, disrupt a person’s ability to perform normal activities, because of persistent feelings of sadness, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Jaleh Javadpour, a junior statistical science and data analytics major, said she didn’t know until the end of her freshman year that emotional support animals were allowed in residence halls. She now lives off-campus with her dog Maggie, who helps her manage her depression and anxiety.
“[Maggie] really keeps me on schedule and keeps me exercising, which goes with the emotional support,” she said. “When I am feeling depressed and don’t want to do anything but lay in bed, I know that’s not healthy and I have to get up to feed her and take her on walks two to three times a day.”