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Cats, dogs, and hedgehogs: Yale’s emotional support animal boom

emotional support animals
An interesting choice for an emotional support companion. Source: Shutterstock.

As if you needed another reason to lust after one of the most prestigious universities in the US, Yale University has reported a 1,400 percent increase in emotional support animals on campus in the last year.

From dogs and llamas, hamsters and chickens, we’ve written about the notion of a cuddly friend to decrease stress and promote emotional well-being on campus before.

But what’s behind the huge influx of animals at Yale?

Like the majority of universities, students are not actually allowed to keep pets in their university accommodation at Yale.

But there’s a loophole.

The Fair Housing Act in the US explicitly states discriminating in any way against someone with a disability – such as a mental health condition which could require extra support – is “unlawful”. One clause in the Act states it is illegal to refuse “reasonable accommodations” for service animals, which includes emotional support animals.

The Disabilities Act of 1990 also stands to prevent any discrimination against those with disabilities.

emotional support animal

Cuddling a cute animal is likely to make you feel at least a little better. Source: Paul Hanaoka/Unsplash.

“Those two laws are basically the reason we weren’t inspired to create the program, we were mandated to create the program,” Yale Resource Office on Disabilities director Sarah Chang told The Daily Caller.

“All universities have to follow those laws.”

A Yale-specific disability policy (policy 4400) also states students are allowed emotional support animals “on a case-by-case basis in a reasonable accommodation for a documented disability.”

According to Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Registration of America, an emotional support animal is defined as any creature which provides “therapeutic benefits to their owner through affection and companionship”

Any animal can be registered, although Yale most commonly sees dogs.

‘Oh, hey. How was your lecture?’ Source: GIPHY.

Sounds good to us, but not all Yale students are so happy about the increase of comforting creatures on campus.

“It can be really annoying,” an anonymous student who has two emotional support dogs living in his dorm told The Yale Daily News.

“They bark at each other and interact with each other, and then they will be barking for like 10 minutes on end.”

Many universities may be wary of denying students the emotional support animals as there are a few extreme examples of the measures students will go to ensure their pal can join them on campus. Back in 2013, one student at Grand Valley State University successfully sued for US$40,000 after she was denied her guinea pig on campus for the purpose of support.

Last year, Yale had a resident emotional support cat named Sawa, however, Sawa is now joined by a number of dogs and even a hedgehog, the College Fix reported.

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