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Emotional Support Animal

Understanding the Difference Between a Service Animal and Emotional Support Animal

Did you know that emotional support animals (ESA) and service animals are not the same? While a lot of people use the two terms interchangeably, they are quite easily differentiable. So, if you feel like you need a pet to help you get through daily life easier, which one of the two would you pick? Keep reading to find out!

What Is An Emotional Support Animal? 

An emotional support animal is a pet companion that provides some type of benefit to a person with a disability. The condition can be physical or mental, such as they are commonly known to help with anxiety.

The animal’s purpose is to provide companionship and support, thereby alleviating at least one aspect of their owner’s condition. Although dogs are the most popular form of an emotional support animal, cats are also quite common. Other animals, such as rabbits, can be used as ESAs.

However, you should be careful while choosing your emotional support pet as a few instances in the past have landed people in some hot water. For instance, a passenger traveling with a Peacock made headlines after being denied entry onto a United Airlines flight. Regardless of the fact that its owner claimed the bird was an emotional support animal, the airlines did not comply.

A pig, a duck, a monkey, and a turkey are among the strange emotional support animals which have traveled with their owners by air. The vast majority of ESAs are not exotic animals, but those that are easy to care for, and can help you feel relieved from whatever issue you have trained them to help with. Let’s look at some common benefits of getting an ESA.

Also Read: How to Get an ESA Letter From a Licensed Mental Health Physician?

Advantages of Having an Emotional Support Animal

Animals can provide major mental health benefits, according to various studies. Having a pet improves mental health by nurturing emotional connectivity and assisting people in times of crisis.

Other advantages of having emotional support animals include:

  • They help alleviate anxiety quickly. Simply petting an animal can induce relaxation and improve mood.
  • Pets can provide solace to people who are going through difficult times, including those who have been through trauma.
  • ESAs have been known to help lower blood pressure, and breathing rate, and improve pain tolerance.
  • Companionship from animals is particularly true for people who live alone and suffer from depression and anxiety.
  • Caring for an emotional support animal can also help people feel more purposeful. Animals not only give unconditional support and friendship, but they also demand affection and compassion in exchange, which can be emotionally rewarding.

Now let’s understand service animals and their advantages.

What Is A Service Animal? 

Several people with disabilities have a service animal. For instance, a person with diabetes may have a service animal that alerts them when their insulin levels are dropping. Thus, they would be able to administer the hormone through an injection before they faint and hurt themselves.

Accordion to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), service animals are defined as:

Service animals are dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.

This definition does not affect or limit the broader definition of “assistance animal” under the Fair Housing Act or the broader definition of “service animal” under the Air Carrier Access Act.”

The ADA requires businesses, government agencies, and non-profit organizations to make accommodations for disabled persons. This rule is generally applicable to all service animals. So, if you visit a grocery store with no pet rules, they are supposed to let you in with a service animal. However, an ESA may be denied entry, depending on the store owner.

Advantages of Having A Service Animal 

Dogs are the most popular type of service animals, as they can be trained to perform crucial tasks, such as:

  • Providing stability to wheelchair users, or those who have difficulty walking
  • Preventing a child with special needs from separating from their patients and landing into potentially dangerous situations.
  • Helping people who have trouble moving their limbs effortlessly, reach items, and grab things off  the floor.
  • Alerting people with hearing disabilities if someone is approaching them from behind, or someone in the house is calling them, etc.
  • Helping a blind person walk without getting hurt, bumping into things, and tripping over.

So, Should You Get A Service Animal or An ESA? 

If you live alone and need companionship and emotional support, it is better to have an ESA. They also don’t require mandatory training to be qualified as ESAs. Furthermore, they can help with disabilities if trained well. They are covered under the Federal Fair Housing Act.

Service animals, on the other hand, are beneficial to those who need help with specific tasks, such as alerting someone of their seizures or low blood sugar. They need to be given specialized training. They are covered under the Americans With Disabilities Act.

How to Get An ESA? 

If you wish to get an emotional support animal or have your pet classified as one, you simply need to get an ESA letter. My ESA Doctor is the clinic to get an online ESA letter from the comfort of your home.

Apply today so you can continue comfortably living with your beloved pet. The letter will be sent to you at your provided email address.

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