Pets Behind Dorm Doors

By Victoria Dondero

The rabbits, dogs and cats that live in our dorms and walk our pathways are here for more than just companionship.

They ease anxiety.

They help build routine and create a sense of safety.

In some cases, they motivate students to get out of bed.

Adjusting to college life is not always easy for students. For some students at Delaware Valley University, having their pet live with them is a game changer. Sharing your on-campus living space with your pet is not an option for everyone, as the pet must qualify as an emotional support animal. As per the Americans with Disabilities Act Website, “support animals provide companionship, relieve loneliness, and sometimes help with depression, anxiety, and certain phobias, but do not have special training to perform tasks that assist people with disabilities.”

Note: ESA’s are NOT service animals, they are not specialized and trained to perform specific tasks for a disabled person. ESA’s should only be used when a doctor deems appropriate for a patients.

Hearing from a couple different DelVal students of different years, majors and different type of ESA’s, a common value was the appreciate of having a companion that is always there for you to support them in their own special way. Below there will be 5 different Student and ESA profiles showcasing students and their amazing ESA sidekicks!

Kylee Hetrick & Hazel

Major: Biology: Microbiology & Biotechnology Minor: Small Animal Science

Graduating: Spring 2023

“Having an ESA on campus has impacted my personal college experience in that I don’t feel alone when I’m in my room by myself. It gives me happiness and something to look forward to going back to my room for. It also gives me a reason to get up out of bed every day.

“I especially love when she plays and gets zoomies at night. When she plays at night, she will dive into things but keep her front legs straight and it is the funniest thing ever. “

A fun fact about Hazel is that she was adopted by Kylee from the Allman research lab on campus!

Makayla Hernandez & Wolfbane

Major: Conservation & Wildlife Management

Graduating: Spring 2024

“Having an ESA on campus is definitely bittersweet. On one hand, my pet provides me security while also keeping me company. He helps me ground myself whenever I’m having trouble with my mental health. I also love the boy to bits! However, it’s like having a kid with me. I need to feed him, help him use the bathroom, take him to the vet, keep up with his grooming, etc. It’s a lot of time spent out of my day just for him. As a college student, it can be difficult to balance that social and dorm life, because I want to be a good dog mom, but I also want the entire college experience. Along with that, people definitely approach me more in public because they want to pet him. That’s completely fine and I even encourage it for socialization, but it makes me feel like I’m sticking out like a sore thumb. Part of me wishes I could just live like a normal college student, but another part of me knows I just have anxiety and having him with me is a blessing.”

Lindsay Zajac & Tom

Major: Animal Science Minor: Equine Science

Graduating: Spring 2023

“Having an ESA has aided in so many different areas of my college experience. The biggest difference I’ve noticed is that having him with me has helped me to establish and maintain a routine, which is one of the biggest things I struggle with. A little bonus is that he’s a great conversation piece – it’s an easy way to bond with people who share similar interests!”

“I brought my ESA into the fall of my sophomore year and immediately noticed a difference after bringing him. I live 6 hours from campus, so even just having something to share my road trips with has been great! When I became an RA, I was worried that having my own room would feel lonely, but having my ESA with me especially since then has made a ton of difference. Even though he’s just a little lizard, he’s nice to have around”

“He’s an absolute champ during our road trips! He snuggles himself into the paper towels I put in his transport enclosure and naps!”

Victoria Dondero & Krusty

Major: Interdisciplinary Studies Focus Areas: Media & Communications and Equine Science

Graduating: Spring 2023

” Having Krusty as an emotional support animal has been an imperative part of my health journey. I found him as a tiny kitten just as I was going through a tough time in my life because of loss and being in a bad health physically and mentally. He has been a huge part of my healing process and has gotten me through my toughest days. We healed together. He was very sick when I found him and that resulted in him being blind in his right eye. (that’s why it’s blue!) He got his name because he was so crusty and gross when I found him.”

“He is extremely dog-like, he plays fetch, and gets the zoomies, but is also down to take an afternoon cat nap with you 🙂 . He is quite the character and we can often be seen on sitting on the quad; he loves to roll around in the grass and chase bugs!”

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