Hello Gauchos! My name is Alex DeSanto and I’m a fourth year Film and Media Studies major. As someone who has lived with animals her whole life, it’s safe to say that my love for animals is tremendous. I’m certainly no stranger to the great comfort animals can bring to humans, and I’ve always been interested in people’s need to rely on animals to get them through hard times.
For my project, I will be focusing on emotional support animals (ESAs)—household pets that provide therapeutic and emotional comfort to their owners suffering from mental health disabilities such as chronic depression or anxiety. ESAs must be prescribed by licensed mental health professionals who determine that the presence of an ESA is necessary in a person’s home for mental health support.
More specifically, my project explores the need for emotional support animals and the growing issues surrounding this need, both for ESA-owners and for establishments required to accommodate them. I want to hear the stories of people who own ESAs to explore how their ESAs impact their mental and emotional health. I also want to uncover any challenges they may have faced in getting their ESAs accommodated by landlords, student housing facilities, and airlines. Additionally, I want to hear what these establishments are doing to meet the ESA-related needs of their tenants, students, or customers, and perhaps how they have experienced abuse from these constituencies.
I will report my findings on a polished multimedia website that includes feature articles, information pages, and diverse media such as videos, photos, gifs, and sound bites.