If you walked into the Grace Hopper College courtyard last year, you may have seen a cat on a leash. Last fall you might have seen a dog; this semester, there are two of them scurrying around Hopper.
These are emotional support animals. While Yale College does not allow students to live with pets on campus, University Policy 4400 allows students to live with emotional support animals, also called assistance animals, “on a case-by-case basis in a reasonable accommodation for a documented disability.”
Last year, there was one registered support animal on Yale’s campus, a kitten named Sawa. There are now 14 — a number that Sarah Chang, associate director of the Resource Office on Disabilities, expects to rise.
“If what has played out at other schools is true, then yes, [there will be] a lot more,” Chang said. “I do think we’re going to see a large increase in numbers, definitely.”
Emotional support animals require no training. They don’t even have to be dogs. Their purpose is to provide a therapeutic benefit through companionship. At Yale, there are emotional support dogs, emotional support cats and even an emotional support hedgehog. All members of the class of 2021 were asked on the first-year housing survey whether they would be agreeable to sharing a suite with a student who has an emotional support animal or service animal.