Lizard provides support

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Sutton Cuevas gently holds the lizard, Akira.

Trey Van Natta, Staff Writer

  College can be a very stressful experience for students. It’s difficult to manage the obstacles that come with living in a new environment and transitioning from high school to a university. It’s not uncommon to become anxious or depressed, but for VU students, there is a hope.

     Emotional support animals have been allowed on campus since it became legal in Indiana. These animals provide comfort and emotional support to students who struggle with mental illnesses. There are some requirements students need to meet to obtain a support animal.   

     Director of Disability Services, Jill Steele, said the application process is easy as long as the animal and student can meet all the requirements.

     She also said she has noticed a growth in the number of students applying for emotional support animals.  There are nearly 50 emotional support animals living on campus this semester.

     One student from Valparaiso, Indiana, Sutton Cuevas has their own support animal, a bearded dragon. They got their lizard, Akira, in March of 2019.

     “I do have really bad anxiety and depression,” Cuevas said.

     Akira is a loving lizard who helps Cuevas with their issues everyday by providing comfort. Most animals can sense emotions, and Arika can sense when Cuevas is not feeling their self and will cuddle them when needed.

     “She definitely does her job well,” Cuevas said. “She’s like one of my best friends.”