JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Most people have heard of service animals, but are just now learning about emotional support animals.
Both service animals and emotional support animals provide their owners with support, but Arkansas State University’s Vice Chancellor for Marketing and Communications Dr. Bill Smith said there is a key difference.
“Service animals are those that you typically associate with a guide dog for someone that’s blind or an assistance dog for someone that is in a mobility situation,” said Smith.
Service animals, however, are primarily used by people who have a disability.
Comfort animals, also known as emotional support animals, are defined as animals that help individuals with emotional problems by providing comfort and support.
Depression, PTSD, mild to severe anxiety, agoraphobia, and stress-induced situations, are a few of the mental health conditions that an emotional support dog can try to help alleviate the symptoms.
Arkansas State University strives to be supportive of their students, faculty, and staff in any situation.
Recently, the University and Student Government Association President Jon Mark Horton, have been trying to maintain that support in regards to service animals and emotional support animals on campus.
“There’s an article about emotional support animals already that’s written, and the administration is looking at it and making sure we are up to date with certain criteria,” said Horton. “We’re just making sure that we are being as effective as possible with emotional support animals.”
Although the animals serve in different capacities, they are both supported by the A-State campus as long as the individual qualifies for the need.
“A service animal would be worked through our disability service area,” said Smith. “But, some comfort animals may be as well or by other support areas of campus.”
A-State’s very own “First lady,” Beth Damphousse, wife to Chancellor Damphousse, even made special accommodations for the animals.
“Beth Damphousse, Dr. Damphousse’s wife, established a hydration station outside of the Humanities and Social Sciences building,” said Horton. “It allows pets, service animals and emotional support animals to have an area where they can stop and hydrate throughout their day on their walk with their owners."
Anyone who plans to house a service or emotional support animal on the A-State campus should contact Disability Services at 870-972-3964.