Archive for the ‘Emotional Support Animal’ Category

Anyone who has ever owned a pet knows that animals are often our best source of comfort when we are feeling down or unwell. For people who struggle with emotional or mental illnesses or disabilities, emotional support animals provide much-needed companionship, comfort, security, and love. Animals have a remarkable way of making us feel better, and emotional support animals truly do provide emotional support to the people who need it most.

What Is an Emotional Support Animal?

There is some confusion surrounding what an emotional support animal, or ESA, is and is not. By definition, an ESA is an animal that provides therapeutic benefits and helps alleviate the symptoms their handlers experience due to a mental or emotional disability. They require minimal training, and, unlike service dogs, they do not need to perform a specific task to help their handlers.

The most important job of an emotional support animal is to provide companionship and comfort to its owner to make it easier to accomplish one or more major life activities, including caring for oneself, working, performing manual tasks, sleeping, walking, and numerous other activities. Emotional support animals are commonly prescribed to persons struggling with depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, etc.

Who Qualifies for Emotional Support Animals?

Roughly 18% of American adults live with some type of emotional or mental disability, many of whom could benefit from owning an emotional support animal. Unfortunately, many of them do not realize that they may qualify for one. Mental health professionals prescribe ESAs to people living with a wide variety of disabilities and illnesses. In addition to helping people with depression, anxiety, and PTSD, emotional support animals can help people of all ages who struggle with ADHD and autism spectrum disorders.

Emotional support animal letters are provided by licensed mental health workers and other medical professionals. The letter indicates that the patient is limited by their disability and requires an emotional support animal as part of their treatment.

How Emotional Support Animals Provide Emotional Support

Emotional support animals provide emotional support simply by being there for their handlers. They provide unconditional love, and just spending time with a loyal companion can really make someone who suffers from a mental disorder feel better. They also create a sense of purpose and responsibility. Feeding, talking, bathing, and taking care of an animal can make a person feel valuable and important. This can be extremely helpful for people who struggle with depression and may not feel a great sense of self-worth on their own. Because they need to be taken care of, animals also help keep their owners more active. It’s nearly impossible to spend all day curled up in bed when there is a furry companion relying on you to provide for their every need.

While they can’t talk back, emotional support animals are great listeners. They are never too busy to lend an ear when their owners need them, and they never judge. They’re also great at keeping secrets, so they act at furry therapists that people can talk to about absolutely anything. Having another living being to confide in – even in that being isn’t human – helps people work through their problems. It also helps alleviate the feelings of loneliness and isolation that many people who struggle with depression and other mental health problems experience.

Talking with a therapist or counselor is beneficial and highly recommended for people who have mental and emotional illnesses and disabilities. Those people aren’t always available, though. With an emotional support animal, you always have someone by your side that you can talk to at any time of the day or night. There is no waiting room or expensive co-pay to worry about – just a loving companion who will always be there to provide a shoulder to cry on when you need it most.

Emotional support animals provide support when their handlers must face difficult situations. If anxiety prevents you from traveling, for example, an ESA can provide the comfort you need to make it through a long flight. They help their owners feel more confident in anxiety-inducing situations, and they can even make it easier to meet new people. For people with mental or emotional disabilities or illnesses, emotional support animals help provide the support they need to live full, independent lives.

Dogs can have a calming effect on people when they are experiencing distress. That makes their presence especially useful for people suffering from mental health woes or who have recently undergone a traumatic experience. 

Some people own emotional support animals or psychiatric service dogs to assist with their mental health conditions. A therapy dog, however, is neither an emotional support animal nor a service dog.

In this article, we’ll explain what a therapy dog is and how you can get a certificate and ID card if you are a qualified handler with a fully trained therapy dog. 

What Is a Therapy Dog?

Therapy dogs have been trained to provide comfort, not to their owners or handlers, but other individuals. Therapy dogs also frequently work in group settings. For example, therapy dogs can visit schools, nursing homes, hospitals, disaster zones, and other areas where people need comfort or a mental health break. Some therapy dogs are also used in therapeutic settings to assist with professional counseling.

Should My Dog Become a Therapy Dog?

Being a therapy dog is hard work. A therapy dog must have the proper temperament and be capable of meeting strangers as a routine occurrence. Therapy dogs and their handlers should also be equipped to deal with individuals in crisis and be comfortable in group settings. 

Some organizations can help train your therapy dog if you are interested in becoming a therapy dog handler. If you are already a professional therapy dog handler, you can obtain a certificate and ID card to help notify people that you have been invited on the premises to bring your therapy dog to help others.

How to Certify Your Therapy Dog?

National organizations will certify your therapy dog, but there is no universal legal standard for what constitutes a therapy dog. However, there are some basic requirements that your therapy dog should meet before it can be considered a therapy dog. 

Your therapy dog should, of course, be well-behaved and follow all commands. Therapy dogs should also be calm and in your control at all times. This is especially important for therapy dogs as they are often in settings like hospitals and schools with lots of people, noise, and unexpected distractions. Therapy dog handlers should also have an understanding of how to deal with people who are experiencing distress. 

If you are an experienced professional therapy dog handler and your animal has been appropriately trained and is capable of engaging with vulnerable and at-risk populations, you can order therapy dog paraphernalia from Service Dog Certifications

It’s important to note that while therapy dog owners commonly use items like certificates, identification cards, and vests, these items do not confer or convey any rights. They also do not substitute for proper training of both the therapy dog and handler, nor do they give your therapy dog any special legal status. The therapy dog handler is always directly responsible for any representations made about their therapy dog’s qualifications. 

Therapy dog accessories are popular with handlers because therapy dogs are often invited to public places such as schools and hospitals, where dogs are normally not allowed. Having these items is an easy way to communicate publicly that your dog is there to provide a service to others. Some staff members at venues that normally don’t allow animals may not be aware that a therapy dog is joining them; therapy dog paraphernalia can help avoid misunderstandings.

Certify and register your dog here. What Special Access Rights Does a Therapy Dog Have?

Therapy dogs do not have public access or housing rights and must be invited in. Therapy dogs are not service dogs and do not have rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act, Fair Housing Act, or Air Carrier Access Act. Many institutions, such as schools, hospitals, and nursing homes, that do not allow dogs, have programs to allow invited professional therapy dog handlers to visit. 

How to Qualify For an Emotional Support Animal

If your dog provides comfort to you and not others, it may be an emotional support animal. ESAs accompany people with mental or emotional health disabilities. ESAs do not need any individualized training and are protected in housing under the Fair Housing Act. 

To qualify for an emotional support animal, you need an ESA letter from a licensed healthcare professional. It is important to seek support from a medical professional and licensed therapist well-versed in ESA rules. If your current therapist is familiar with ESA rules and can write you an ESA letter, that is your best choice.

If your therapist is unfamiliar with ESA rules or does not understand animal therapy, you can seek support from a legitimate online service, such as ESA Doctors, that will connect you to a licensed professional. 

When getting support online, it is important to be wary of discount sites or sites that guarantee “instant approval;” these may be ESA letter mills or from therapists whose license may not be recognized in your state. Top-tier companies, like ESA Doctors, will pair you directly with a licensed healthcare professional who is licensed in your state of residence.

Click here to get your ESA letter What Special Access Does an Emotional Support Animal Have?

Your dog may already be your best friend and act as your emotional support animal. Why is it necessary to officially qualify your pet as an ESA with an ESA letter? Emotional support animals are protected under federal law. Under the Fair Housing Act, ESA’s have access to “no-pets housing.” Landlords cannot charge an additional fee for accommodating your ESA. ESAs are also exempt from size and weight limitations. 

In any case, your ESA needs to be well-behaved and not create any threat to the health and safety of others. If your ESA causes harm to others or substantial property damage, a landlord can deny access. 

Can You Qualify for a Legitimate ESA Letter Online? Yes! Thanks to telehealth services, you can qualify for a legitimate ESA letter online.

To connect with a licensed healthcare professional and see if you qualify for an ESA letter, click on the link below to complete an ESA questionnaire.

See if you qualify for an Emotional Support Animal letter from ESA Doctors by clicking the link below.
Step by Step Guide – How to Get an ESA Letter for Flying

Have you seen dogs in the airport and wonder why they are allowed to fly? Chances are, they are emotional support animals. Below we will address steps to qualify for an ESA Letter so you may travel with your dog.

Step #1 – Understand and identify your disability Do you qualify for an ESA letter?

You can be eligible for an ESA letter if you have disabilities, as noted in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). A few examples are:

Depression Social Anxiety Disorder Anxiety Disorder Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Panic Attacks What is an Emotional Support Animal?

An Emotional Support Animal is a pet that provides comfort and love to their handler. An ESA can be any type of animal through an Emotional Support Dog is the most common choice.

Unlike a Service Dog, an Emotional Support Dog does not require special training but does have to be well behaved.

Step #2 – Understand your rights Are Emotional Support Animals allowed to fly?

On January 11, 2021, rules by the U.S. Department of Transportation went into effect, giving airlines the option to no longer recognize emotional support animals. As a result, many airlines are no longer accepting emotional support animals on flights. A few airlines still allow ESAs into the cabin of the airplane at no extra cost, but their rules and policies may be adjusted at any time.

Please check with your airline prior to booking a flight to confirm their current policy for ESAs as it may change. It is better to contact the airline ahead of time to feel confident that you have all the required documentation needed for your trip.

If you’re flying with an airline that no longer has an ESA program, your animal must meet the airline’s requirements for regular pets.

Step #3 – Qualify for a Legitimate ESA letter How to qualify your dog as an Emotional Support Animal?

If you feel that you may qualify for an Emotional Support Animal, you may contact your therapist for support. If your therapist is unaware of ESA regulations, you may refer to a legitimate online referral company. It is important that you work with a therapist who believes in animal therapy and understands the regulations as the ESA letter requires specific language.

Click here to qualify for your ESA letter

If you qualify for an Emotional Support Animal and have an ESA letter, we recommend that you submit your ESA letter to the participating airline ahead of time for approval. Each airline has their policy and procedure, so it’s best to inquire about their requirements as soon as possible not to run into any problems at the airport.

You are not required to register your Emotional Support Animal – only an ESA letter from a licensed therapist may make your pet an official Emotional Support Animal.

Step #4 – Train your ESA to be a “good citizen”

Although an Emotional Support Animal does not require special training, they need to be well behaved. If you plan on taking your ESA onto an airplane, the participating airlines has the right to deny you access if they determine that your ESA may cause harm to others. 

Examples of good citizen behavior are:

Walking with you and within the leash length; not pulling or lunging Ignoring food on the floor or in other passenger’s hands Not barking or lunging Sitting and staying on command Step #5 – Prepare your ESA for success Exercise and prepare for your ESA’s flight

As mentioned earlier, inquire with your airline regarding their assistance animals policy well in advance. We recommend contacting the airline as soon as you book your flight and submit any required documentation at least 48 hours before departure.

Here are some helpful tips for travelling with your ESA:

Do not give your ESA food or water 3-4 hours before the flight. Make sure they have ample opportunity to relieve themselves before the flight. Prepare treats for good behavior in the airport. This is an excellent opportunity to reward them for positive behavior and enforce it for the next trip. Your ESA should associate the airport as a fun place where they get tons of treats in return for behaving well. Make sure your ESA exercises 1-2 hours before the flight. This will help them get rid of excess energy. Outfit your ESA with an easily identifiable vest. Although not required by law, accessories like vests and tags make identifying your dog as an ESA easier and may prevent unnecessary confrontations. You may also choose to give your ESA Dramamine for motion sickness or Benadryl to help them sleep. Each animal is different; please consult your veterinarian before giving your ESA medicine.

See if you qualify for an Emotional Support Animal letter from ESA Doctors by clicking the link below.

More articles that you may find helpful: Emotional Support Animal Laws What to do if Your Landlord Does Not Accept Your ESA