Archive for the ‘Emotional Support Animal’ Category

No! Emotional Support Animals are NOT fake Service Dogs.

There are major legal differences between emotional support animals and service animals. Knowing the difference will help you in understanding your rights. It will also determine how you go about obtaining the right documentation and identification for your animal.

What is the Purpose of Emotional Support Animals and Service Animals 

By helping individuals with disabilities function better in society, emotional support animals (ESAs) serve a higher purpose than regular house pets. The sole purpose of an emotional support animal is to provide therapeutic benefits to individuals with mental, emotional or psychological disabilities.

On the other hand, service animals provide direct assistance to people with disabilities. A service animal’s main purpose is to perform functions and tasks that individuals with disabilities cannot perform themselves. Direct assistance includes guiding individuals who are blind, picking up items, or alerting and calming a person experiencing a panic attack/anxiety.

What Kinds of Animals can be Emotional Support Animals?

Emotional support animals are not limited to just dogs. All domesticated animals can qualify as an emotional support animal as long as they are not a nuisance and are manageable in or around public areas.

Under titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), service animals are limited to dogs and, in some cases, miniature horses. The animal must be able to perform tasks directly related to the owner’s disability. Although service animals are limited to dogs and miniature horses, the ADA does not restrict the type of dog breeds.

Training Requirements for ESA’s and Service Dogs

Emotional support animals are not required by law to have special training because their role is to provide emotional comfort, companionship, friendship, and affection to their owner or handler. Their presence mitigates stress associated with the owner’s psychological or emotional disability.

However, service animals are required under law to be highly trained to work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. To ensure good public behavior and adequate support, dogs undergo extensive training before they become service animals. While every state has different laws regarding training, it can take roughly 1 to 2 years to train a service dog although there are not age requirements. Although training is required by law, people with disabilities are not required to use a professional service dog training program. They may train their service animal themselves. 

Documentation for ESA’s and Service Animals

Emotional support animals are not covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Owners are required to acquire an ESA letter, provided by a licensed mental health professional before they are granted access to apartments with a no-pets policy. The letter should state how the owner’s disability substantially limits their lifestyle and how an emotional support animal is necessary for treating their mental health.

Service animals, on the other hand, are entitled to accompany their owners in all public areas and facilities. Under ADA, businesses are only allowed to ask (1) if the dog is required due to a disability and (2) what task the dog has been trained to perform. Unlike owners of emotional support animals, service animal owners are not required to show documentation. Some service animal handlers may chose to carry an service dog identification card or have a vest on their service dog to avoid harassment by people who are ignorant to service dog rights. 

We hope this helps clarify some misperceptions you may have had on Emotional Support Animals and Service Dogs! Share this article to help your friends or family find the help they may need. 

Having a cat brings the same positive effects as dogs. These pets can be equally beneficial to a person’s health. Experts have proven that cat owners are less likely to have a health emergency, such as a heart attack, with their feline companion around and cats have also been proven to help alleviate sleeping disorders, high blood pressure and other health problems.

But can cats be trained to work just like service dogs do? Are they extended the same adjustments as service dogs?

The law on service animals has been established for years and recognizes dogs as the most common provider. The provisions in the 2008 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) stated: “The term service animal includes individually trained animals that do work or perform tasks for the benefit of individuals with disabilities, including psychiatric, cognitive, and mental disabilities. The term service animal does not include wild animals (including nonhuman primates born in captivity), reptiles, rabbits, farm animals (including a pony, pig, or goat), ferrets, amphibians, and rodents.  Animals whose sole function is to provide emotional support, comfort, therapy, companionship, therapeutic benefits, or to promote emotional well-being are not service animals.”

However, on March 15, 2011, the ADA amended this provision to certify that dogs are the only recognized service animals (see amendments here) so as to prevent confusions from the public. So, where does this leave cats? Why are there people having cats as their service animals?

Can cats be service animals?

No, but cats can qualify as emotional support animals if you have doctor write a letter for an emotional support animal. Emotional support animals can fly in the cabin of an aircraft and can live in “no pets” apartments, but they do not have the same level of access as service animals and cannot be taken everywhere service dogs are allowed. In this case, cats cannot be extended the same acknowledgement as service dogs.

However, certain establishments might be willing to make adjustments and could make exceptions on a case to case basis for cat owners. It’s best to check with management before bringing the cat to their premises to avoid any untoward incidence.

Looking to Certify your Cat as an ESA Online?

A person suffering from anxiety attacks experience many risks, and it’s one of the reasons why it’s prudent to consider having a service dog or emotional support animal as a companion. The animal can keep the environment safer for the individual and below are some of the ways a dogs can calm anxiety:

1) Dogs can predict panic attacks

Because of their acute senses, dogs can recognize that a person is about to experience a panic or anxiety attack. If a service dog is well-trained, it can intervene in the situation before any untoward incident happens. The pet will nudge or bark at his handler or owner even before the attacks happen, and they will not stop unless the handler listens.

2) Dogs have a calming and relaxing presence.

Even the ones that aren’t trained to be service dogs draw the same calming effect. A study has determined that a dog’s presence has some sort of healing effect. A person’s heart rate and blood pressure lowers whenever they are around dogs to either touch or keep the company.

Another study revealed that dogs can unleash happy hormones in a person, thus reducing stress levels that could trigger anxiety.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

 

3) Dogs ground you during an anxiety attack.

A person experiencing bouts of anxiety attacks could temporary lose focus as panic sets in, but a service dog will keep him grounded, so that he can get a grip of his situation. Some service dogs are trained to facilitate deep pressure therapy, where the dogs can settle their body on the person’s chest to help him calm him down. Certain panic attacks can put the person at risk of hurting himself or damaging property, when this can be avoided or reduced with the dog’s presence.

4) Dogs alert your loved-one or other humans.

If a person is having an attack, a well-trained service dog can let another human know so that the matter can immediately be given attention. They can look for that person for help, or they can also be relied upon to find their master’s phone so that he can call for help.