Laura Weaver, a junior studying music, has something in her apartment most college students don’t. Her dog, a mini Australian Shepherd mix, lives with her as an emotional support animal.
During her freshman year, Weaver experienced difficulties with mental health.
“It was pretty bad,” Weaver said. “I couldn’t focus on anything, I couldn’t get out of bed or eat. I couldn’t really function.”
Her therapist recommended bringing an emotional support animal to her apartment. Since she already had a close bond with her dog, her therapist believed having an emotional support animal could have a positive effect.
Weaver first had to ensure her dog was trained, visit the vet to check that her dog was healthy, and then receive a prescription from her doctor.
Her dog can help her to connect during difficult moments.
“She is actually very in tune with me. She’s really good about coming over and just being there for me when I need her,” said Weaver.
She enjoys the bond and believes having something to take care of has affected her mental health positively and increased her motivation.
“I have to be up early to take care of my dog, so I can’t just sit in bed all day. If I don’t eat well and take care of myself, I can’t take care of her,” she said.
Weaver was worried at first about how her roommates would react. She had to switch rooms because of a dog allergy in her first apartment, but with help from her apartment management, she was able to find an apartment that would be compatible with her dog.
“The first day I was super nervous, but everyone knew beforehand and was excited to have her there,” she said.
Her roommate Amber Christenson, a junior studying art, is glad to see the positive effects the dog has had on Weaver.
“It was interesting and nice to see her finally get the support animal she needed,” Christenson said. “It was a very exciting experience to know that someone who I knew was struggling had an animal to help them.”
She also believes the dog has a positive impact on others in the apartment.
“It specifically supports her, but it’s great to have an animal to help anyone in the apartment who is struggling,” Christenson said. “It helps to relieve that stress of being in college.”