Sometimes the most reliable source of emotional support can be out very own pets. That’s why it’s no surprise that ESAs (emotional support animals) have become so popular over the years.
Wondering if you could benefit from an ESA of your own? Allow us to explain exactly what it entails.
Emotional Support vs. Service Animals
There are some big differences between ESAs and service animals. While ESAs are a rather new thing, the use of service animals – primarily dogs – has been around for decades.
Service animals are specifically trained to carry out tasks to help people with various disabilities. They are covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act and are allowed to go anywhere their owners go.
These animals include dogs that assist those with hearing impairments, seeing eye dogs and even psychiatric service dogs. Service animals are considered to be working animals, not pets.
Under the ADA, Animals that merely provide emotional support do not qualify as service animals.
Knowing Your Rights
While any animal can be a source of comfort, declaring one an ESA goes a step further. It also typically entails obtaining the support of a doctor or therapist.
As they are not covered by the ADA, however, emotional support animals have fewer rights. While some businesses, organizations, and airlines do recognize them, not all businesses do.
Many airlines have strict guidelines on ESAs nowadays because of people taking advantage of their policies. Rules and restrictions vary, but most require thorough documentation and will only accept dogs or cats as ESAs.
Adopting an ESA
Before adopting an emotional support animal, or pet of any kind, it’s important to ask yourself a few things. For instance, will it be a good fit for your lifestyle and living situation?
ESAs can serve a real legitimate purpose, aiding in one’s ability to function better in day to day life. They do, however, come with many responsibilities as well.
To have an animal formerly declared an ESA, you’ll also need a letter certifying your need for such a companion. As we mentioned before, this requires discussing things with your doctor or licensed therapist.