CORRECTION: This article previously misspelled Alex Loeffler’s name.
Ferris architecture and sustainability sophomore Alex Loeffler was a freshman living in a residence hall struggling with anxiety, but after bringing his cat Bella to Ferris, that all began to change.
“I just wasn’t feeling at home here,” Loeffler said as he recalled how hard it was to be away from home during that first year.
Many students refer to them as emotional support animals (ESA), but they are now known as assistance animals by professionals.
“I had some issues with anxiety and was making a three hour drive every weekend just to be somewhere that felt like home,” Loeffler said. “It was around the end of the semester when I realized while I was growing up, we always had a pet at home. So, I started looking into what I would have to do to have my cat with me here, to bring a piece of home with me.”
After researching assistance animals online, Loeffler began emailing different people. This led him to the disabilities center where he talked to Ferris Assistant Professor and Educational Counselor Eric Wagenfeld.
Loeffler talked to Wagenfeld about what he was going through, and Wagenfeld agreed that getting an assistance animal may help him. After filling out papers and making sure Bella was up to date on her shots, he could bring her the following spring.
“It really helps that she’s there because now it feels like an actual home that I can go back to,” Loeffler said.
Loeffler also struggled with anxiety and feeling down when he would go back to his dorm until his next 8 a.m. class. Doing homework for twelve hours a day, Loeffler used to get anxiety. Now, if Loeffler has a panic attack, Bella is there to comfort him.
“I felt like I was stuck in a room surrounded by all white walls and I was always in my dorm on my computer doing my homework,” Loeffler said.
From first arriving at the campus to now, Loeffler has felt happier and calmer since Bella became his assistance animal.
To learn more about assistance animals on campus, call 231-591-3057 or visit Starr 313.