Lucy’s job throughout a normal day involves spending time with her owner, going on runs with her roommates and bringing comfort to those around her. Lucy is an Emotional Support Animal, also known as an ESA, for Dani Bates, a sophomore nursing major from Arlington.
“When you want to take a break from homework, you can play with her instead of watching TV, which I think is better for you, you know?” said Bates.
Bates’ roommates are fond of Lucy too. Shelby Kennedy, a sophomore kinesiology and pre-OT major from Queen City, said “she’s just like a fifth roommate.” This is the first pet ever for Lauren Maloy, a sophomore nursing major from Prosper. “I didn’t know what to do with dogs. I wasn’t scared, more just not used to animals being around. She’s great though.” said Maloy.
Bates had to go through a series of steps to get Lucy approved to live on campus. She first had to get signed paperwork from her doctor explaining that Lucy was there for medical reasons. Bate’s then talked to Residence Life, signed more paperwork, had her roommates sign approval forms and was finally able to bring Lucy into the hall.
Jessica Nguyen, associate director of housing, said “ESA’s are something entirely different from Service Animals. Part of a law that was given through Housing and Urban Development laws says a landlord cannot refuse you having a pet. If you have a viable, medical reason for an animal, then you can either be approved or denied depending on your reason.”
Residence Life stresses that ESAs are a serious thing. They say there are people that really and truly need them.
University policy on pets in residence halls is being rewritten this semester in order to accommodate for ESAs and should be ready to be implemented Fall of 2017. Guidelines will specify what animals will be allowed, including cats, fish and hamsters.
There are certain places in particular where ESAs are allowed and prohibited. Lucy is allowed to move from the apartment to the hall in order to exit the building, but she is not allowed to roam freely. If ESAs cause disruptions, grievance forms are made available to students to report these incidents.
“They’re a really good aspect to have on campus,” Bates said. “She’s everybody’s dog, I mean she was Flame Lucy while we were pledging. I would recommend for people to have an ESA, it helps make the stress go away.”
This new policy will move into full effect next semester, Fall of 2017.