No doubt animals play an important role in our lives. From providing love & comfort to helping us perform daily tasks, they help us in many ways. As per the federal regulations, you can legally live with your animal in an apartment by getting an emotional pet support letter. Service animals help their handlers perform tasks they can’t do due to their disabilities.
Now, the question is, can you have both an emotional support animal and a service animal at home? Read on to learn more.
What Are Emotional Support Animals?
Emotional support animals are companion animals that help their handlers deal with their mental & emotional disabilities. Patients with anxiety, depression, PTSD, etc. can use the animal-assisted therapy to ease their symptoms. To qualify for an ESA, you must obtain an emotional support animal letter.
An ESA can be any animal that provides their owner with love and comfort to alleviate their symptoms. Emotional support animals are usually dogs and cats, however, you can also make members of other animal species (snakes, rabbits, etc.) your ESA.
Under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), tenants can live with their emotional support animals in apartments without paying extra pet deposits. Landlords can ask them to show their ESA letters, but can’t deny them housing.
Studies have found that ESAs contribute to good health by reducing stress and boosting mood. Living with an emotional support animal can ensure you ultimate emotional support, and deal with loneliness, which is a major cause of depression and anxiety.
According to a study published in 2016, participants living with an animal showed a significant improvement in their health. In other words, pets play a key role in managing long-term mental health problems. Thus, animals should be considered as an important component for managing long-term mental illnesses.
What Are Service Animals?
Service animals are usually dogs that are trained to perform tasks for their handlers. These tasks are usually daily activities that people with disabilities can’t do themselves, thus need help.
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), service animals perform tasks for individuals with disabilities. These disabilities can be physical, intellectual, mental, or psychiatric. For instance, a service dog can help-
Provide stability to a person who has difficulty walking
Pick up things for an individual using a wheelchair
Alert an individual with a hearing loss regarding an attack
As per the ADA regulations, service dogs aren’t required to wear any special vest or tags.
Since service animals are trained animals, they have access to public places where normal pets aren’t allowed.
Emotional Support Animals vs Service Animals
Many think that service animals and emotional support animals are the same. But, it’s not true.
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, ESAs aren’t trained animals to perform specific tasks, they don’t qualify as service animals. So, the former doesn’t have the same rights as the latter.
However, some states may allow emotional support animals to visit public places. So, you should check local regulations for more details.
Since ESAs and service animals perform different functions, the certification processes are also different. If you need a service animal to help you perform specific daily tasks, you can contact a local service dog agency. However, you can make your pet an emotional support animal by getting an ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional.
Can I Have Both?
Well, it depends because ESAs and service animals perform different tasks.
It’s important to note that not all emotional support dogs can become service dogs. Service animals require comprehensive training to learn performing daily tasks for their handlers.
The same is true with service dogs. Not all service dogs can become ESAs. Also, you might not have the same relationship with a service dog as you have with an emotional support dog.
If you need assistance from a service animal to perform your tasks and also an emotional support animal to ease stress & other mental health conditions, you can have both the animals.
Remember, emotional support animals help individuals deal with their emotional and mental health challenges. Service animals help people with disabilities perform specific tasks. So, based on your needs, you can choose the support animal.
Emotional Bond to a Service Animal
Animals provide therapeutic benefits to humans. So, a service dog may develop a strong bond with their handler. If you are one of those lucky people who build a deep connection with their service animals, you don’t require an emotional support animal. However, the dog will serve its primary role as a service animal and secondary role as an ESA.
If you have an animal that helps you with your emotional/mental health, you can talk to a licensed therapist to see if you qualify for an emotional support animal letter.
At My ESA Doctor, you can apply for your ESA letter from the comfort of your home. Here’s the process-
Sign up for an account online
See a licensed mental health professional via video call
If approved, receive your emotional pet support letter in PDF via email
To wrap it up, emotional support animals and service animals serve different roles and have different protections under the law. You can have both the animals if you need assistance to perform daily tasks and deal with stress, anxiety and depression. Talk to a licensed doctor if you have any questions.