Mental health concerns sparks discussion on ESAs on campus


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Service dog, a beautiful White Swiss Shepherd, lying calm in the yard.

Ally Ruvalcaba, Reporter

As more schools throughout the U.S. have allowed emotional service animals on campus because of the benefits it holds, CTHS students and staff share their own thoughts about service animals in schools and the impact they can have on students’ well-being.

“I think service animals are necessary for some people,” wrestling coach Jacob Farley said. “I have a dog and a cat at home, and I feel comforted when I’m around them. It’s really easy to understand why someone would want that all the time especially if they have things like anxiety and social anxiety and they just need that extra comfort.”

While some believe having ESAs on campus could benefit students, others have shared this could be a distraction for others.

“I think they should be allowed in certain scenarios because some people may have a serious disability that requires a service animal,” junior Faith Barrentine said. “The people who have the service animal would probably be able to function better in school, and we would have more teachers available to help other students. I think it could also be a problem, though, because other people would get distracted by them and want to pet the service animals while learning is going on.

Other students agree that animals on campus would distract them and make them want to “adopt all of them” if they could, but ultimately they said it seems to be an overall positive for students.

“I think they do belong in schools especially if they’re helping,” senior Chloe Green said. “I feel like a lot of people would feel safer with them and they could really help with emotional support. I would love to have a service animal of my own here if it was an option.”

According to the Texas Association of School Boards, a service animal does not include an animal that is intended to increase an individual’s comfort or sense of well-being based on the Americans with Disabilities Act definitions, so this limits what animals would be permitted on campus and in what circumstances it would be allowed.

College campuses have increasingly used therapy dogs on campuses during finals weeks in designated areas to allow students a period to debrief from studying such as the University of North Texas.