Emotional Support Animal - Different Types & Benefits
Emotional support animals are special kinds of pets that accompany and support people with mental and emotional limitations. These animals are more than pets and they have several rights also.
Since they are officially not considered pets, they can live in 'no-pet’ facilities also. People who need to get an emotional support cat, an ESA, need to get an official letter to bring the animal home.
These letters are called Emotional Support Animal Letters, ESA letters, and they are written and signed by licensed mental health professionals. These professionals are experts of mental health and they understand peoples' need for these animals.
Know more about these animals, their types, and their benefits in this blog.
- ESA - What is an Emotional Support Animal?
- Types of ESAs - What are the Different Types of Emotional Support Animals?
- Emotional Support Animal Laws - What Laws Govern the ESAs?
- What is an Emotional Support Animal Certification?
- ESA Registration - How to Register an Emotional Support Animal?
- Benefits of an ESA - What are the Benefits of an Emotional Support Animal?
- ESA Letter - How to Get an Emotional Support Animal Letter?
ESA - What is an Emotional Support Animal?
An emotional support animal is a special kind of pet that is not considered a 'pet'. They have a purpose and they are here to provide comfort by their presence and companionship. They vary in size and as an ESA owner, you can choose any animal to be your ESA.
These animals enjoy more rights than pets and are allowed to go to places that are considered off ground for pets, or animals in general. Similarly, you can also air travel with your animal.
However, due to the recent changes and developments in transportation policies and state and local government laws, only animals of a reasonable size are allowed to travel with their owners.
Emotional Support Animals vs. Service Animals - Are They the Same?
No, both service and emotional support animals are different kinds of assistance animals. Both of them serve different purposes and have different rights and responsibilities.
As the name suggests, an emotional support animal is a companion that provides emotional support to its owners. They do not need to be specifically trained for any task and the only requirement for them is that they must be well disciplined and properly housebroken.
As per the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), service animals are individually trained to perform a specific task for the owner. People with disabilities, physical limitations, have these animals to assist and help them. These animals must be properly trained to work and perform tasks for their owners.
Another thing that differentiates these animals from each other is that the emotional support animals could be any animal while, currently, only dogs and miniature horses are considered fit for service animals.
For air travel, only service dogs are allowed in the planes. Both of these kinds of animals are not considered pets as they assist their owners mentally, emotionally, and physically.
Are ESA Dogs Psychiatric Dogs?
No, they are not. A psychiatric service dog is trained to assist people with psychological issues. These dogs are specifically trained to sense the signs of an upcoming psychological outbreak and warn the owner about it.
It includes people with epilepsy also. Epilepsy is a serious neurological condition that disrupts the neural functioning of a person's brain. This causes uncontrollable convulsions and could cause serious issues also.
Psychiatric dogs warn the owners before the convulsions so that they sit in a comfortable place and call someone for help. This helps in avoiding any unlikely situation also.
To differentiate different kinds of dogs, you can use specially made vests also. For your ESA dog, you can get an emotional support dog vest so that you do not have to stop people from petting your dog. An ESA is not a service dog but still, it is an assistance animal and should not be petted unnecessarily.
Types of ESAs - What are the Different Types of Emotional Support Animals?
Do you know that you can have any animal as you ESA? This is true but we suggest that you choose your animal wisely and something that you could take to different places.
Many people wrongly try to get an exotic kind of animal as their emotional support animal and fail to enjoy the housing and traveling rights that come with them. Instead, it is better that you choose an animal sensibly and enjoy its companionship 24/7.
Below are some common kinds of emotional support animals and their benefits.
- Dog Emotional Support Animal
Dogs are the number one choice of the people that are looking for an animal for their emotional and mental support. Canines are believed to be the oldest friends of humans and probably no other animal enjoys the same kind of status as dogs.
Having a dog as an emotional support animal is beneficial in many ways. They are very loving and hanging one offers emotional, mental, and physical benefits.
- Cat Emotional Support Animal
After dogs, cats are the most favored animals as emotional support animals. Felines are different from dogs and they do not make good ESAs for people who want their animal with them all the time. Cats are somewhat standoffish and need personal space.
The pros of having a feline are that they are easier to accommodate and there are some therapeutic benefits also. The cat purring is found to be beneficial for people who have joint issues.
- Rabbit Emotional Support Animal
Rabbits are lovely and they make great ESAs and pets for people who need a small companion animal. Though they could live indoors also, they make excellent house animals for people with a yard.
They are burrowing animals and need to 'burrow'. To help this, you can buy specially designed and crafted rabbit cages for your ESA rabbit. If having a yard, then you can make an artificial burrow to keep them busy and happy.
- Miniature Horse Emotional Support Animal
- Birds Emotional Support Animals
This is a rather unlikely choice for an ESA but definitely, it is not something unheard of. Birds are colorful, happy, and easily accommodatable animals that would thrive in any household. They do not take much space also, which means that a small space on your balcony will also be enough for them.
They make excellent companions and emotional support animals for people who do not have time to look after a cat or a dog and need an animal that they could care for easily.
Besides excellent service animals, miniature horses make great ESAs also. These are excellent for the people who love horses but could not afford to keep them due to their immense size. Like the standard ones, miniature horses are known for their loyalty and love for their owners.
Emotional Support Animal Laws - What Laws Govern the ESAs?
There are two major laws that govern emotional support animals and ESA owners. These laws protect the rights of both these animals and owners and help them acquire acceptance in several places.
Below are those laws.
- Fair Housing Authority
Fair Housing Authority, FHA, is a federal law that implies that a person having an emotional or mental limitation could live with his animal as long as the animal is suitable for accommodation. It regulates living with an emotional support animal.
This law helps the ESA owners in getting suitable accommodation, without giving up their animals. It is crucial because many landlords do not accept animals and others have a 'no-pet' policy. As per the law, the said policy does not apply to ESAs and a landlord could not deny this kind of animal.
Moreover, the ESA owners do not have to pay any pet fee or additional cost for their animals.
However, there are some cases in which a landlord could deny the animal. These reasons are given below.
- The house is not rented through an estate agent.
- The property has less than 4 units and the landlord lives in one of the units.
- The animal is too big and a danger to the property and other residents.
If your animal damages the property, you will be liable to pay for it.
- Air Carrier Access Act
The Air Carrier Access Act, ACAA, was used to protect the air traveling rights of the ESA owners and under this law, they could air travel with them, regardless of the type and weight of the animal.
Unfortunately, this opened doors to a number of bad events and incidents. People passed their pets as ESAs and got exotic animals like peacocks, squirrels, and reptiles. Traveling with these animals resulted in another series of disastrous events as passengers got hurt and airlines lodged complaints against this law.
In many incidents, animal control had to be asked to control the animal.
As a result, now, ESAs have lost their previous status and can travel as normal pets. This also if they could fit under the passenger's seat and cause no disturbance and danger to other passengers. The ESA owner would also have to pay the animal's travel cost which varies.
Though the ACAA act is no longer as useful as it used to be, the FHA is still fully functional and allows the ESA owners to live with their animals freely and comfortably.
What is an Emotional Support Animal Certification?
An emotional support animal certification is just another name for an ESA letter. This letter is the primary requirement for obtaining and living with your animal. However, you must qualify to get this letter.
Many people still believe that they could get an ESA and an ESA letter just like they could get any pet. It is a misconception and getting both the animal and the letter requires proper qualification.
What are the Requirements to Get an ESA Letter?
‘What qualifies you for an emotional support animal?’
To get the letter, you must have a mental or emotional condition that leaves you unable to do your daily chores and activities.
Below is a list of some of the conditions that qualify for an emotional support animal and letter.
- Depression and Stress
- Bipolar Disorders
- Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Cognitive Disabilities
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Dyslexia and other Learning Disabilities
And a number of other emotional and mental limitations and conditions. Emotional support animals have proven to be useful for a person with a disabling condition.
ESA Registration - How to Register an Emotional Support Animal?
Luckily, you do not need to register your emotional support dog, or any other emotional support animal separately. Many online letter providers try to mislead the unsuspecting and new ESA owners into believing that ESA registration is a requirement.
All you need is a genuine ESA letter to live with your animal. No registration and no separate certification.
How to Ask a Doctor for an Emotional Support Animal Prescription?
Here are the ways by which you can get your ESA prescription from your doctor.
- Do not approach the matter directly or ask for the prescription from your doctor directly.
- Talk to him about how your pet helps you manage your symptoms in a better way.
- Share a story of how an ESA is helping someone you know or your research on the positive effects of having an ESA.
- Tell him about ESAs and whether he knows about them.
Do not try to push things and explain everything calmly. At first, your doctor may be skeptical about writing you the said prescription. But once you explain your situation and how your pet helps you handle the situation and symptoms better, he will agree to write the prescription for you.
Why Do I Need a Note from a Licensed Mental Health Professional?
If you want to live with your animal in a no-pet facility then you will need a prescription letter written and signed by a licensed mental health professional. The LMHP would screen your symptoms and if you need an emotional support animal.
How to Register my Dog as an Emotional Support Animal?
As said earlier, you do not need to register your animal individually at all. All you need is a genuine ESA letter that is written and signed by an LMHP. If you believe that your dog is fit to be an ESA then there are a number of ways to register him as your ESA.
How to Register my Cat as an Emotional Support Animal?
To certify your cat, you will have to follow the same steps as when you would certify your dog as an ESA. The steps are simple and will be discussed later in the blog. Besides the dogs and cats, certifying any animal as an ESA has the same steps and procedures.
Benefits of an ESA - What are the Benefits of an Emotional Support Animal?
There are numerous benefits of having an emotional support animal, and an emotional support dog in particular. People who are struggling with mental and emotional limitations and conditions often need help to carry on with their daily activities and work.
Here are some proven benefits of having an ESA.
- A Healthy Lifestyle
Having a dog means that you will have to take him out for his daily walk and exercise sessions. This helps both the dog and the dog owner.
Reportedly, dog owners meet their daily exercise requirements more than people who either do not have an animal or have a cat or any other pet or ESA.
- Constant Companionship
Where isolation and loneliness could harm you in a number of ways, companionship could benefit you both mentally and emotionally.
This helps in getting rid of stress and anxiety and keeping them at bay. It is especially helpful when you are living alone and need companionship.
Having an ESA helps in broadening your social circle also. It is especially helpful for people who are shy and hesitant to make new friends. Pet and ESA owners often meet each other at dog parks, when walking their dogs, and in pet supermarkets.
- Structure and Routine
Having an animal dependent on you for its well-being structures your own life also. House animals, including dogs, cats, and others, require food and exercise for sustenance, which means that they look up to you for it.
This is enough to drag you out of bed and couch each day.
- Stress and Anxiety Relief
Stress and anxiety usually go hand in hand. An ESA helps in relieving the stress and providing the needed comfort. These animals also help in building self-confidence and easing mental tension and anxiety.
Besides, an emotional support animal offers a number of other benefits also. They help in bettering the quality of your life and help you live freely and peacefully.
ESA Letter - How to Get an Emotional Support Animal Letter?
Here are some ways to get an ESA letter.
Look for an Online ESA Letter Provider
Instead of going to a mental health professional, some people prefer ordering and getting their emotional support animal letter online. To get a genuine and legally sound ESA letter, you must find and work with an online ESA letter provider. Here are the steps involved in ordering an ESA letter online.
- Fill the online form.
- Add your symptoms and the details of your animal.
- If qualified, get the letter.
At MyESALetter.net , we have licensed mental health practitioners and experts that screen every application and write the letter for the qualified applicants.
Ask your Doctor to Write the Letter for You
Many times, the doctors refuse the letter for anyone. Why is it so? Because many people try to pass their pets as ESAs to avoid pet fees. Other times, the doctors either do not know about ESAs or refuse to accept or acknowledge their benefits.
If your doctor agrees, make sure that he writes the letter on his official letterhead and the letterhead has all the details of the therapist. In case a doctor or even the letter provider gives the letter that is written on plain paper then it is a red sign.
Getting an emotional support animal is a huge responsibility also. Besides the rights that come with being an ESA owner, there are some responsibilities also. The key responsibility is that you should make sure that your animal is properly disciplined and housebroken.
In case of any damages done by your animal, you are responsible to pay for it. The landlord is liable to provide suitable housing for your animal but you cannot ask for anything that would fundamentally alter the nature of the housing facility.
For example, asking to rip off the tiles to make grassy ground for your pet would be an outright atrocious demand.
If you need a genuine and lawful ESA letter then start your evaluation process by filling the online questionnaire.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does anxiety qualify for an emotional support animal?
Yes, anxiety qualifies you as an emotional support animal. However, the final decision of whether you qualify for an ESA or not depends on the evaluation of a licensed mental health professional.
Can I pet an emotional support animal?
Yes, you can pet an emotional support animal. Most of the benefits of an ESA come from the care and dependability that the emotional support animal and the owner have for each other.
Do I need an emotional support animal test?
No, you do not need an emotional support test to qualify for an emotional support animal or to get an ESA. The only requirement for getting an ESA is that you should be suffering from a mental health disorder and a licensed medical professional should authenticate that.
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