Service and Emotional Support Animals At Syracuse

Noah Gordon with his service dog, Drew. (c) 2018 Ryan Golde

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Audio Transcript: Service and Support Animals Transcript

By Ryan Golde SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — 

Service and emotional support animals have become more and more prevalent to students in America. At Syracuse University, many students have animals to help them with either a disability or their mental health.

Most of the growth in usage of these animals comes from students using them for emotional support. A lot of animals are still used as service animals. Noah Gordon, a Junior at Syracuse who has epilepsy, said he feels safer knowing his dog is always going to be there for him.

“Just having him around, just having the security of knowing that if something does happen, that if I were to have a seizure and go down he would be there,” Gordon said.

Drew is very different from most service animals. When Gordon first got Drew, he was originally just supposed to be a house pet.

“Unlike Guiding Eyes dogs, which are trained from birth, service animals or emotional support animals can be brought to training facilities to be trained for particular abilities,” Gordon said.

Many of the dogs are actually used as emotional support animals though. Brendan Lee, a senior at Syracuse University, suffers from severe anxiety and has a dog named Emma at school. Lee said he never feels alone when he is at school and Emma keeps him calmed down.

“Emma might not be the best-behaved dog in the world, but she’s my best friend, and she keeps me from having anxiety attacks when the world comes crashing down,” Lee said.

Luc Chanren is another owner of an emotional support animal. He brought his dog all the way from California and said his dog Nemo gives him a sense of being at home even though he is so far away, and they continue to have fun together.

“We have made tons of memories, a lot here at school, whether it’s just walking around campus, having a bunch of people petting him, or walking around on the quad, or just coming back after a long day,” Chanren said.

Service animals don’t just effect the owner though. Alex Shepherd is Luc’s roommate and he said that it is difficult having the added responsibility of a dog in his life.

“We’re in college and we are both pretty busy, so sometimes he’s not here and I need to feed him or walk him, and he’s always in the room and it’s a small room so that’s tough,” he said.

Alex still believes it is worth having the dog because it makes his friend feel safer and more secure.

Another issue arising from support dogs is that many students are able to easily get an emotional support animal. According to Gordon it is actually very simple to get all the documentation needed to have a service animal.

“There’s a lot of websites online, that honestly you get a certificate mailed to your house and an ID card within a week,” he said.

Chanren agrees with Gordon and also believes that these so called fake applications only make it harder for those who truly need these animals with them at school. Both Chanren and Gordon and best friends with their dogs and said that they have benefitted from having their dogs on campus.