Bella Lantz, Opinion Writer

App State allows students to bring registered service animals onto campus. However, there are many students who have to leave their pets at home due to the no-pet allowance in App State residence halls. With students losing their closest companions, it would be beneficial for each residence hall to have therapy animals on site. App State could partner with Watauga Humane Society to adopt and train animals to live on campus. This could be valuable for most, if not all students.

In 2011, App State adopted a therapy dog for group therapy sessions. App State saw the importance of having a therapy dog on campus 11 years ago, so they should still see the significance now. According to a survey by the Mayo Clinic, one in every three college students experiences depression or anxiety throughout college. This could be due to the new environment, overwhelming classes, or trying to juggle a social life. Many studies prove that animals can increase students’ serotonin and lower blood pressure, by just interacting with an animal. If students need a break and a minute of rest, they could visit the therapy animal. There are many logical questions to this, such as who would take care of the animal? Where would the animal sleep?

Resident assistants are paid to help with residences and keep them safe. The RAs could offer their services to petsit for a bit of extra money. App State students pay, on average, over $15,000 for all they need and require. One therapy animal per building would not kill the App State budget for the year. The animal could stay in the downstairs area, while RAs are in the building. At night, the animal would sleep in a kennel, crate or bed on the first floor. There are many simple solutions to allowing a therapy animal into the residence halls. Dogs would be the most common to allow, however, bunnies and cats have also proven to be good therapy animals. 

The Watauga Humane Society would be a good place to find animals that could go through therapy training. Professional therapy training for a pet can cost anywhere from $15,000 to $50,000. Therapy training is not as intensive as other service animal training, therefore it would be on the lower end of cost. There are a total of 18 residence halls on campus. This means that the university would be taking 18 students’ tuition to train a few animals. App State, if they adopted younger animals, would only have to train an animal, on average, once every 9-12 years depending on the animal’s lifespan. This proves that App State is capable of adopting and training an animal for students.

App State wants to be a college that accommodates all. To assist people who need a way to destress or have a reliable friend with them, a therapy animal is a solution. If App State decided to add adoption and training fees into their budget, this could be a possibility. Will the university take the giant leap to invest in this project? A project that would remove 18 animals from the pound and give them a new home. A project that would relieve stress and anxiety from students that need it. A project that will last for a decade. If App State can do it, why shouldn’t they?