Emotional Support Pets
A growing number of Americans are living with one or more mental, emotional, or psychological disabilities, and for many, seeking proper and effective treatment is an ongoing journey. Many people find that an emotional support pet (or ESA) can provide measurable comfort and aid, helping them regain a sense of independence and improve their overall quality of life.
At Service Pet Verified, we are proud to provide to play a smart part in enabling so many people to change their lives for the better with an emotional support animal. If you’re interested in learning more about how an emotional support animal may help you enhance your quality of life, we’ve created a useful guide to provide everything you need to know about ESAs, including how to get an official ESA letter, your ESA rights, where you can take your ESA, and more.
What is an Emotional Support Animal?
An Emotional Support Animal (ESA), may also be referred to as an assistance animal or support animal. An ESA is a designated companion animal that fulfills an emotional need for a personal dealing with a diagnosed mental, emotional, or psychological disability. Typically, an emotional support animal alleviates the symptoms of a specific mental or emotional condition by providing comfort, companionship, and affection. Many people find that caring for their emotional support animal also provides the benefit of structure in their daily routine, further improving their well being.
In order to be considered an ESA, the owner and animal must have the proper documentation provided by a licensed mental health professional or doctor.
Types of Emotional Support Animals
The most common types of emotional support animals are dogs and cats, but there are no specific requirements outlined by ESA laws. However, it’s important to understand that in some situations, your emotional support animal may be excluded from legal protections if it is too large, a specific type of animal, or physically aggressive.
How is an Emotional Support Animal Different from a Service Animal?
Service animals and emotional support animals not only differ in definition but also the way they are categorized according to various laws and regulations.
A service animal undergoes specific training and certification and performs a specific set of duties and tasks for their owner. For example, a seeing eye dog provides physical guidance and other duties to a vision-impaired owner. Keep in mind, the cost of training can be very costly. Costs can be as high as $15,000 for training over a two year period.
Emotional Support Animal
In contrast, an emotional support animal does not undergo any type of specific training and is not responsible for carrying out certain tasks. Instead, the animal provides support and comfort through simple companionship and affection.
Psychiatric Service Dogs
Many people confuse emotional support animals with psychiatric service dogs, which are trained to do certain tasks that help their owner effectively cope with a mental illness. For example, a psychiatric service dog might be responsible for reminding their owner to take their daily prescribed medication. Or, a person who suffers from dissociative episodes as a symptom of their mental illness may have a psychiatric service dog to prevent them from dangerous situations when they are disoriented. A psychiatric service dog may provide benefits through companionship, much like an emotional support animal, but it is also trained to do certain jobs as well.
What Qualifies You for an Emotional Support Animal?
If you have an emotional or mental condition that you believe would be improved with the companionship of an emotional support animal, you may qualify.
Here are just a few examples of the many professionally-diagnosed conditions that may enable you to obtain an emotional support animal: