*Editor’s note: Some names have been changed for privacy.
It is National Justice for Animals Week, and BYU-Idaho students take that chance to explain what their animals are all about: some serve, some comfort and some are just here to have fun. Because this week is all about animals, here is a brief introduction to service animals, support animals and pets.
Service animals are defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act as “any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual or other mental disability.”
Service animals are protected by the ADA and are allowed almost everywhere their owners are, but they are not always accepted. Here is an introduction to two of the service dogs on campus.
Hawkeye is a goldendoodle service dog-in-training. His trainer is Laryssa Petersen, a freshman studying elementary education.
“Hawkeye is not a pet,” Larissa said. “But when he takes the vest off he’s like any other dog.”
Petersen said when Hawkeye is trained, he could be able to aid those with depression or anxiety, seizure disorder, mobility impairment or diabetes.
Valo is a Finnish Lapphund who was trained as a service dog for his owner, Kaylie Brown, a freshman studying geology. Brown suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, and Valo helps her through the hard times. Part of his training is to help Brown with “anxious ticks” like biting her nails by giving her a soft pat on the hand until she stops.
Brown applied for housing at multiple apartment complexes before she and Valo found somewhere that would accept them. Brown said she didn’t “feel up to fighting” for permission to live with her service dog.
Support Animals are defined by the Fair Housing Act as “an animal that works, provides assistance, or performs tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability, or provides emotional support that alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person’s disability.”
Adi is a shorthair tabby emotional support cat. At three months old, his job is to help those around him who suffer with emotional health problems. His owner is Nichole Cook, a sophomore studying art. Cook adopted Adi to help with her emotional health.
“He has been such a blessing and has a real stabilizing effect on me,” Cook said, calling Adi “a furry angel.”
Lily Evans was abandoned as a baby but adopted by her current owner, Camilla Knight,* a sophomore studying business management. Knight suffers from chronic depression and anxiety.
“Lily is always there for me when I need her,” Knight said. “When my anxiety becomes too much to handle, I can take a break and spend time with Lily.”
Cyndaquil is an African pygmy hedgehog who is going on two years old and is “about the seize of a large grapefruit,” said Jacelynn Barr, a sophomore studying English, her owner. It took Barr a few years to find her, but she fell in love with Cyndaquil the moment they met.
Cyndaquil is an emotional support animal. Cyndaquil gives Barr a routine and helps her take a break emotionally.
The French poet Anatole France once said, “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” Some students in Rexburg choose to have such an awakening through companionship with a pet.
Bruno is a ten-year-old Alaskan Malamute who helped his owners in the transition of coming back to school. His owner, Elias Gamez, a junior studying business management, moved his family to Rexburg so that he could continue his education.
“I made a deal with my girls that since I was ‘ruining their lives’ by taking them away from their friends, they could keep Bruno,” Gamez said.
Bruno likes playing chase and wrestling but is “a gentle giant” with the kids.