The start of Cabrini University’s fall semester brings excitement to some students, but overwhelming feelings to others.
One thing that helps some students feel the comfort of home is by bringing their service animals. Service animals are pets that help their owners with issues ranging from mental health to physical disabilities.
Meet Autumn and Saphire
Autumn Schlikle is a junior transfer student with an adorable emotional support cat named Saphire. Autumn and Saphire live in East Residence Hall and are thriving in their new community. Schlikle formerly went to Eastern University for the past two years and decided to make the trip across the street this year. She is studying psychology with a minor in neuroscience and credits her easy transition to Saphire.
Saphire has been with Schlikle ever since her prior service dog passed away. She happily shared that when she went to the Humane Society to pick out a new pet it didn’t go exactly how she planned.
“It was between two cats, and I actually picked the other one, but she didn’t click,” Autumn said with Saphire sassily perched on her lap. She ventured back to the Humane Society, took Saphire home, and had an instant connection.
“You know she has anxiety too, so she senses when I am down and is a real comfort,” Schlikle said. The two truly are inseparable. Schlikle opted to not have a roommate here at Cabrini, saying that Saphire is enough company for her.
Saphire’s favorite Cabrini activities are meeting new people, hanging out in the lounge, and walking over to Eastern to watch their ultimate frisbee team practice.
Evelyn Sperry, a sophomore resident assistant, lives close to the pair and said, “As an RA in a first-year building, it makes me really happy that our university is able to offer this accommodation to our residents.”
Many students would love to have their animals here on campus with them for comfort, but students must go through certain procedures for the privilege. Cabrini University has a very simple, yet effective process for allowing students to bring registered pets as their suitemates.
Students may have either a service animal or an emotional support animal. According to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and the Fair Housing Act, every college is required to accommodate students who need the help of a qualified service or emotional support animal.
A service animal is trained to work for the benefit of a person with a disability. These disabilities can include someone with impaired vision, an individual who is hard of hearing, and many more. In order to obtain a service
animal, the animal’s training must be directly related to the person’s disability. If the animal’s sole job is to provide emotional comfort, then according to the ADA, it cannot qualify as a service animal.
An emotional support animal offers different benefits than service animals. Service animals are working pets, whereas emotional support animals comfort a person under the recommendation of a mental health professional. These animals are not required for a person’s daily life, but they help ease stress and act as psychological treatment. Emotional support animals are allowed to live in residence halls but are not granted access to the entire campus, unless they are also certified service animals.
Cabrini requires all working campus pets have vaccination history and licensing information before a student moves in. They also ask that students tend to the animals’ needs, such as using the bathroom and taking daily walks if needed.
Students also must understand that their animals must not cause a disruption living in the dorms. Cabrini must be given an alternate contact to pick up the animal at any time if these rules are violated.
The University is allowed to deny requests if any animal does not meet certain guidelines listed on its website.