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Emotional Support Animal

Emotional Support Animal

What is an Emotional Support Animal?

An emotional support animal is a type of assistance animal that provides therapeutic benefits to people suffering from a psychological or emotional disability. They are not restricted by any species and in most cases, any domesticated animal such as dogs, cats, mice, ferrets, birds, and rabbits are registered as emotional support animals. Several studies and research have shown how beneficial having ESAs for people with mental conditions are. And every pet owner will understand this. Their love and care are so much more than we humans can comprehend.

Emotional support animals provide comfort and support, which works wonders for people with mental disabilities. Their companionship helps alleviate the suffering of people. Our country is going through a mental health crisis. With more than 40 million people affected by mental conditions, it is time we stand up and do something about it. Maybe it is our work culture of lifestyle; the staggering number is crying out for a change in our lives. And having an emotional support animal could be a viable solution. Whether suffering from anxiety, depression, loneliness, or PTSD, an ESA empowers you to fight them off. Now let’s have a look at the various benefits emotional support animals provide.

Benefits of Emotional Support Animals

There is a lot of confusion surrounding emotional support animals and how they help manage mental conditions. In a country where more than 20% of the population suffers from a mental illness, it is all the more important to understand this. Here are some ways ESAs help people.

Unconditional Love

Love is universal. It is a language that speaks more volume than any other else. And the way emotional support animals help individuals with psychological conditions feel love is very therapeutic. Love is hard to find, and it is a struggle to find the same love of emotional support animals from our fellow humans. But this doesn’t mean that ESA promotes avoiding other people. Their love is simply a means for people with a diagnosis to get back on their feet. They make perfect companions and prove to be very useful for someone who otherwise feels alone in life, in the world, or in their relationship. Having a loving relationship with an emotional support animal could pave your way to having more meaningful relationships with a human.

Balances Your Emotions

Living with an emotional disability is way harder than it seems. Managing daily tasks become all the more critical. And having an emotional support animal will help you with that. ESAs are there for you to keep your emotions regulated on a daily basis. Several studies and research have clearly shown how having and petting an animal helps reduce daily stress, anxiety and improves the mood by balancing physiological arousal. And that is because an emotional support animal provides a steady presence, unrelenting compassion, unconditional connection, and undivided attention regardless of the day or time. So, if you, too, are suffering a mental disability, consider getting yourself an emotional support animal. Our emotions tend to stabilize when we have emotional support animals in our lives. Constant support and presence prove to be a real help for your mental stability.

Compliments Other Treatments

Emotional support animal treatment is also quite beneficial because it works well with other forms of treatment. Yes, ESAs can be integrated with other treatment models that provide relief to individuals with mental health conditions. Some psychologists believe that emotional support animals work best in conjunction with other treatments. They help facilitate and manage the symptoms that make life easier for people with mental health conditions. So, whatever form of therapy that works for you, find a way to incorporate emotional support animals in your plan. ESAs can be utilized in mindfulness techniques that can help individuals from the ground up.

Produces Neurotransmitters

Today we all know someone who suffers from a mental condition. Be it depression, anxiety, or any other condition, the situation has reached a critical level. Antidepressants or conventional depression medications that we are used to, increases serotonin levels in our bodies. Although dogs work the other way around, they increase dopamine and several other neurochemicals associated with love and care in our bodies. Several studies have shown that dopamine production rises when an individual has a pet. A simple look in their eye boosts dopamine. Having an emotional support animal around curbs loneliness and proves to be an essential tool to feel loved and cared for.

Calms anxiety on Plane

There is a lot of discussion going around having animals on planes. But for people suffering from mental health conditions, having their emotional support animals in-cabin with them can help them manage their condition. An ESA can really help make travel easy. We often associate travel with vacation, but it is not always the case. For some travel can be excruciatingly difficult, and that is where emotional support animals can help make life easier. During the flight, an ESA acts as a support that proves to be useful in a different way than a medicine. People suffering from a mental health condition deserve the luxury of travel. So, next time when you are seated with someone who has a pet, give them the benefit of the doubt.

Social Support

If you see your pet as your best companion, then you can make it an emotional support animal. ESAs can improve the health of an individual by being their social companion. Pets are often psychologically close to their owners, which works great in managing mental conditions. People with psychiatric conditions often suffer from loneliness and isolation and who better to have as a companion than an emotional support animal. Take a simple walk with your emotional support animal, and it will help your conditioning. Your relationship with your pet is itself healing your psychological wounds.

Understanding Emotional Support Animal Laws

Making your pet an emotional support animal comes with certain privileges. It is important you understand them. They are your rights. Exercise them! Let’s take a look at these emotional support animal laws.

Fair Housing Act

The FHA or Fair Housing Act allows a person with a mental condition to live with their per in a no-pet policy rental apartment without paying any extra charges with an emotional support animal letter. The emotional support animal housing laws require the landlord to make the necessary accommodations in the pet-policies to make room for your pet. According to the law, a landlord cannot reject your emotional support animal, but in some instances, the ESA laws might not support the tenant, and the landlord may be able to refuse. Let’s have a look.

  • If the property is included under a single-family housing and does not involve a real estate broker.
  • If the building is smaller than four units and the landlord is also residing in the same building.
  • The law also doesn’t provide ESA owners the privilege to take their ESAs in public places like cafes, hotels, or restaurants who have the right to refuse to allow your ESA. Although service animals are sometimes allowed according to the American Disability Act. But ESAs don’t get this access.

Now let’s take a look at what the Fair Housing Act restricts the landlords from:

  • hey cannot ask you about your ESA’s training.
  • No additional fees are to be paid. The landlord cannot demand any deposit or fees to accommodate your emotional support animal.
  • They cannot demand your medical records or enquire about your condition.
  • They cannot refuse your emotional support animal on the accounts that their insurance doesn’t cover the animal or breed weight.

The Fair Housing Act ensures that the landlord accepts the emotional support animal letter from a licensed medical health professional. Your landlord or property manager may also for a verification form from a physician confirming your emotional disability. But if your landlord refuses, then you may take the legal route. According to the emotional support animal laws, if anyone fails to comply with the laws, he can be sued or booked for violation. This is taken as an act of discrimination against the disabled, which is taken very seriously by the United States Justice Department.

Air Carriers Access Act

Under the ACAA or Air Carriers Access Act, people suffering from an emotional or mental disability are allowed to travel on a flight in-cabin with their pet. If you have an emotional support animal letter for your pet and all the other required documents, you can manage your condition while on a flight and fly hassle-free. The emotional support animal is allowed to either sit on the patient’s lap or near the feet. Let’s take a look at the rules and regulations of flying with your emotional support animal.

  • The ACAA allows you to fly in-cabin with your ESA without paying any additional charges.
  • You must keep your emotional support animal either on your lap or near your feet.
  • Make sure that your emotional support animal is calm when at the airport and on the flight. Your fellow passengers must feel comfortable around your ESA, and it is your responsibility to keep them at their best behavior.

Most people suffering from a mental health condition face problems when traveling on a flight. Having an emotional support animal to accompany during the flight helps manage their anxiety. And ACAA was enacted to allow just that. There are certain features of this law that you must understand. Let’s have a look.

  • You must bring all the required documents during the flight.
  • Almost all airline providers cannot refuse a person from traveling on the basis of their mental condition.
  • You must inform your airline provider at least 48 hours prior to the time of departure.
  • Also, make sure you check the emotional support animal laws of the airline provider before booking your flight. That is because some airline providers only allow certain species of emotional support animals.

Emotional Support Animals And Service Animals

Many people also wonder if emotional support animals are the same as service animals. We often come across differently-abled people with a service animal or emotional support animal. You may think that they are just pets, but that is not the case. They serve a higher purpose than being just pets. A service animal or emotional support animal helps a person with varying disabilities manage their life. They give one the needed stability to maintain composure and fundamentally improve the quality of life for their owners.

But both emotional support animals and service animals are different. Both serve different purposes and have varied laws and regulations. A service animal is trained to perform specific tasks and functions for a person with a physical disability. They help with auditory functions for the deaf, muscular tasks for the physically disabled, visual functions for the blind, and medical alert for people prone to have a sudden attack. They have proven to be very useful for people suffering from disabilities.

On the other hand, ESAs are companion animals that provide emotional support to people suffering from psychological ailments. Animals have proven to effective and therapeutic to the people with mental conditions such as anxiety, PTSD, and depression. Unlike service animals, ESAs need not be trained as they are born with the ability to provide unconditional care and love. So, next time when you see service animals on a board sign, don’t mistake it for emotional support animals. Both are recognized as different types of assistance animals.

In Conclusion

Do you know more than 18 percent of the adult population of the country suffers from anxiety, and about 7 percent suffer from depression. And the worse part is most people don’t even acknowledge it. Sometimes it is impossible to tell how a person with a diagnosis looks like but if you know someone that suffers from an emotional condition, having an ESA may be the solution they are looking for. It really changes your life. With the sheer number of hours spent together, you will experience the real meaning of companionship. Often a strong bond is formed between the emotional support animal and the individual, and without a shadow of a doubt, an animal’s loyalty, temperament, and sense of care and love is truly a gift to those who seek assistance daily.