Dawn Lombardi, a double major in Nutrition and Business Management, shares her experience of working with Rowan’s Office of Accessibility Services to give her new cat his forever home.
Dawn was juggling her responsibilities as a resident assistant and student all by herself. This year, she decided she was ready for a companion that she could take care of. “I felt like I had a lot of love to give and wanted to direct my energy into something good,” she says. “That’s why I adopted Reggie.”
Reginald, Dawn’s cat, is a 12-year-old senior adoptee from Homeward Bound Animal shelter.
“I wanted to adopt a senior cat because they are often overlooked by other families,” Dawn explains. “Usually, people who adopt want a young animal, so senior pets have trouble finding their forever home. I wanted an older cat so I could make its older years the best it’s ever had.”
Before adopting Reginald, Dawn had to go through a thorough ESA (emotional support animal) approval process.
“I looked up the Rowan ESA policy, saw that I qualified, filled out the necessary paperwork, and turned it into the Academic Success Center [now called the Office of Accessibility Services]. The people were very helpful. I worked closely with [staff members] during my process, and [they were] awesome.”
John Woodruff, director of the Office of Accessibility Services, talks about this process in a bit more detail.
“There is an online registration form on our website that students must complete. They are then responsible for working with their healthcare provider to fill out a three-page application form to request an accommodation for an ESA. A dog, cat, lizard, or rabbit are all animals that can be an ESA. After the application is complete, our office shares a link with the student that connects them to a portal where they can upload any documentation necessary (a formal diagnosis, an emergency contact for the desired animal, the breed/name of the animal, etc.),” he says.
Now that he is approved, Reginald is living lavishly in Dawn’s Rowan Boulevard Apartment. “I think the Rowan Boulevard Apartments are really suitable for an ESA. My apartment is a great size and has multiple rooms that he can walk around in.”
Aside from being adorable, Reginald has helped Dawn become a better student. “Reggie wakes me up for breakfast in the morning, so it helps me to get out of bed and get my day started nice and early. With him, I have a reason to get up and be productive,” she says.
Reginald has helped Dawn in more ways than one.
“When I feel overwhelmed with school or anything really, he comes and sits next to me. Just having him there gives me so much comfort. I joke and say that he is an ESA to everyone, too. My friends or residents that come and pay him a visit love him. He makes everyone’s day better.”
“I am really grateful Rowan gives us the option to have an ESA. It makes me feel very supported and valued as a student who is juggling a lot.”
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