The idea of having an animal living with you at school excites many students, because who wouldn’t want to have a pet at college? But my rabbit is not just my pet at school. He is my emotional support animal. Some may say that I’m just bringing my pet to school but I disagree. I bought Sprinkles when I decided that I needed support from an animal that will love you when it may be hard to love yourself. During the second semester of my sophomore year, I was raped in my college dorm room. This made it more difficult to adjust to campus life again, as well as cope in a healthy manner. I made the decision to live in the same type of apartment style building my junior and now senior year of college. This presented a bunch of triggers I was not ready for. I continue to struggle with depression and PTSD and after my first flashback on campus during junior year, I needed something physically different with my campus experience.
How did I go about obtaining permission? I worked with Worcester State’s Student Accessibility Services and my counselor and went through a two month long process with interviews and paperwork to be approved. Every animal is geared to a person’s needs. I thought long and hard about what animal is suited to me, what I was most comfortable in taking care of, and how I would meet the animal’s needs. I ended up deciding to go with a bunny. I have had bunnies all my life and know how to care for them. Also, bunnies do not need walks, and you can leave them alone, which worked out because I am involved with four organizations on campus.
Now you must be wondering, how does a rabbit help you? Well, Sprinkles helps me get out of bed each morning. He gets fed at 7:30am, about an hour before my classes typically start. Since I live in an apartment styled dorm, I have a kitchen and like to cook my own food. Sprinkles helps me go to the grocery store and buy food for myself since he needs food, too. I have to regularly wash the towels in his cage and the rug he likes to lay on which prompts me to do my laundry. He became my coping mechanism. Every time I would get the urge to harm myself, I would pet and play with him until the urge passed. For those of you who think rabbits do not require a lot of work, you are wrong. They need fresh hay, clean litter box, fresh water, feeding twice a day, and you need to love them. I was blessed to have the best suitemates who allowed him to be in the living room and take up half the space. He was the physical change I needed to tell myself that I was safe, and things are different.
My experience with emotional support animals had its downs, too. Sprinkles was a challenge when I first adopted him. He hopped over a three foot pen, he flipped over his litter box when he got too excited, and he ate everything you left on the floor. Including your homework and your suitemate’s plant. But he was always there, with his red eyes and extremely soft white fur waiting to give you bunny kisses.