Emotional Support Animals – What you need to know

25 Jun, 2020

Emotional Support Animals – What you need to know

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As any pet owner knows there are various unspoken support signals that your pet can give you. And some pets are highly supportive offering a level of emotional intelligence and support far beyond the norm. Since 1973 law in the US has allowed some some mentally and emotionally disabled people to live with and travel with their emotional support animals.

What are emotional support animals?

Emotional support animals are usually dogs, however, there are many other kinds of animals that qualify. Here is an article that tells you what you need to know before you get an emotional support animal.

emotional support animals

Some dogs make excellent Emotional Support Animals

Do you qualify for the help of emotional support animals? 

Thousands of pet owners choose their pets for different reasons. An ESA has many benefits. Depending on which animal you decide to adopt and make it part of your family you’ll experience various benefits.

Many pets offer more than companionship to their owners. They actually provide a support service to varying degrees depending on the animal. The most popular is the guide dog for the blind. Trained to support a visually impaired or blind individual overcome many daily challenges that they face because of their disability.

Another act of service provided by pets in general, although rather different from the example given above, is their ability to become emotional support animals (ESA). Anyone suffering from mental health or emotional issues could qualify for an ESA.

the role of pets
The role of pets in healing humans is well recognised as evidenced by the introduction of emotional support dogs into the homes of traumatised patients over recent decades

Qualifying criteria for Emotional Support Animals

If you suffer from a mental health disorder or an emotional disability, you may qualify for an ESA, according to law. Qualifying human disorders include learning disabilities, motor skill disorders, bipolar disorders.

They also include some gender identity and substance-related disorders.  However, you must be medically diagnosed with the condition and certified as emotionally disabled. Any certification, such as a service dog certification, must be conducted by a medical professional such as a psychologist, a therapist, a psychiatrist or other licensed and/or certified mental health professional.

What You Need to Know Before Considering Emotional Support Animals

If you want to find out whether you qualify for an ESA you can visit https://www.certapet.com/esa-doctors-near-me/ where you will be able to learn more. You will also find support with identifying a specialist doctor to provide you with a certification letter.

The all important ESA letter

The letter must be an official letter designated as an ESA Letter. This will provide evidence of the medical requirement of having your emotional support pet with you in places with animal restrictions such as airlines and some houses.

emotional support animals
Dogs go into training to see if they are suitable as emotional support animals

Emotional Suppor Animals in Training

Although emotional support animals and service animals may sound similar, there is one main difference separating the two.

The difference is that service animals go through particular training in order to support their disabled owners, whereas ESA’s do not require the same extensive training or skills, as their main role is to provide companionship and comfort that comes with every animal anyway.

Consider the animal’s temperament

As long as your pet is well-behaved and does not cause additional stress or  issues in public areas, any animal could be your emotional support.

Having this in mind, your pet should receive basic training. You can do this yourself or you can hire an expert trainer. But you must ensure they maintain good behaviour in any situation.

Remember, you can be refused entry to any location with your pet, if it could cause a disturbance. ESAs carry a big responsibility. If any pets visibly identified as ESAs, behaves badly in public access may be denied to people with ESAs.

Uses For Your Emotional Support Animals (ESA) Letter

If your medical professional has advised you that you would benefit from having an ESA and has formally issues with you with an ESA letter it is essential that you understand how you can use this letter and exactly what rights this gives you.

Legal requirements and landlords

In terms of housing, you should provide your landlord with the ESA letter. You also need to inform them that you are looking for suitable accommodations for your ESA pursuant to Fair Housing rules. Legally, your landlord may take up to 10 days to respond to your request.

They can only deny you the request on the basis that your emotional support pet may pose a danger to others. Albeit this is highly unlikely. Oftentimes landlords will ask to see a copy of certification or registration for your ESA.

These landlords are misled or unaware of actual ESA protocols. Certifications and registrations do not do much in terms of legitimately qualifying an ESA.

Travelling with an ESA

If you are planning to take a trip overseas and plan on bringing you ESA with you, submit your request to the airline at least 48 hours before travel. Every airline will have its own guidelines and requirements.

They will  have specific processes and paperwork in place in order to review the request before allowing travel. For these reasons, you must enquire about this with the company directly as soon as you book your flights. Don’t delay. You need time to learn about the process and to complete any paperwork required by the airline.

Mental health issues may disadvantage you

If you suffer from mental health and feel you could benefit from an ESA, research first to maximise your chances. This preparation will help you get ready and secure your chances.

Service animals and emotional support animals have proven a great comfort to many people of various disabilities over the years. However, you must prepare yourself and your pet before you travel or change your accommodation. Preparation is key!

The role of emotional support animals for people is addiction recovery is vital

Despite the challenges faced by those in addiction recovery it is now well documented that pet care and the role of pets such as emotional support or assistance dogs in this journey is hugely beneficial. The benefits of pets in the addiction recovery process are recognised by practitioners internationally.

There is some significant support for the integration of pet-assisted therapy into recovery programs now all over the world. The role of pets has never been more important as part of the healing process for humans.


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