Increased awareness about mental health among people has had a massive impact on society. Surprisingly, a great contribution towards this cause came from social media platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter.
People have become aware of the causes and treatments of mental health issues which has caused a sudden surge in emotional support animals (ESAs) as well, but what are they exactly? How can you get one, and how are they different from service animals?
What are Emotional Support Animals?
In case you are not aware of what an emotional support animal is, let us get you up to speed. Often people going through mental instability or depression require some form of support. This support usually comes from family members or close friends, but what if someone has neither of those?
Predicaments such as those require an adequate solution, and that is where emotional support animals come in. One can simply think of these animals as pets whose mere presence allows the owner to feel comfort and ease. They require no training, and you can have any animal as an ESA, but within reason.
How to Get an Emotional Support Animal?
Acquiring an emotional support animal is not a difficult task. If you have a legitimate mental health condition, then you can communicate your need for an ESA with your psychiatrist, therapist, or in some cases a doctor who is familiar with your condition like a general practitioner.
Upon hearing your plea, they will provide you with a prescription which is a signed letter by said doctors to authorize an animal as an ESA. If you already have a pet, and you feel like it is qualified for the said role, then you can get it registered as your ESA.
One thing to note is that the doctor may need to meet the animal before authorizing the letter. You must also be willing to take care of all the needs of that animal since humans are not the only beings with emotions.
Emotional Support Animals vs Service Animals
As we have already stated, emotional support animals are animals who simply provide emotional comfort to their owners in hopes of curing their mental condition. Such animals do not require any training whatsoever, and they are as easy to acquire as any other pet as long as you get a prescription from a licensed medical health professional.
Service animals on the other hand are a bit different. Yes, they also exist to provide support to their owners, but these animals are thoroughly trained for said tasks and must graduate from licensed training institutions. Additionally, no animals besides dogs can be licensed as service animals.
The tasks of service animals are based on the owner’s needs. Their tasks include helping a blind person walk, fetching medicine, waking up their owner if they are having nightmares, calling on family members in case of traumatic flashbacks or seizures, etc. While ESAs do not need to be specialized in any of these tasks, but it is good to carry out some obedience training for them.
Laws Concerning Emotional Support Animals
Emotional support animals can be of great benefit which has led to laws being made about them. If you are an ESA owner or are going to become one in the future, then you should be aware of the following rules:
Fair Housing Act:
According to the Fair Housing Act signed in 1986, the rights of people of different races, religions, and disabilities are to be protected concerning housing-related activities. This means that even if pets are not allowed in a building or house, owners must give clearance for ESAs and service animals.
Air Carrier Access Act:
The Air Carrier Access Act allows people with disabilities and mental conditions to travel with their service animals and ESAs. They must be allowed to board the plane without issues, though airports can ask you to prove whether the animal being carried is an ESA or service animal. If such a thing happens then you must provide adequate proof.
Americans with Disabilities Act:
People with disabilities are quite dependent on their service animals since they are trained to perform specific tasks in their stead. Therefore, all service animals must be provided entry without objection in any place, but this law does not apply to emotional support animals. This means that places like restaurants, libraries, etc. can stop your ESA from entering the premises of their buildings.
Mental conditions are quite difficult to deal with and even more so if you have to deal with them. Emotional support animals take off a great amount of this burden and help you get through tough times which is why we hope that this article helped you in getting insight into what emotional support animals are and how you can get one for yourself.