Emotional Service Dog
An Emotional Service Dog is a service dog that performs a task to help a person with an emotional or mental illness. They have the same rights as a Service Dog.
What is an Emotional Service Dog?
With the troubled times we live in, more people are looking to animals for comfort, support, companionship, and unconditional love. Some may view these animals as pets, but for those with an emotional or mental disability, an emotional service dog can be the difference between barely living and living well.
In this article, we are going to cover the difference between an emotional support animal and a service dog. We will also cover the kinds of animals that can be an ESA, who can prescribe an ESA letter, and the value of an emotional support dog certification.
The Difference Between an ESA and a Service Dog
1. The main difference between an emotional support animal and a service dog are the ESA does not require special training in order to help the individual.
2. An emotional support dog can be of any breed and is there primarily to comfort and support the person suffering from a mental/emotional issue. The types of problems that are considered include:
- Bipolar disorder/mood disorder
- Social fear/phobias
- Panic attacks
3. Service dogs, on the other hand, are usually highly trained to assist the disabled individual in day-to-day living. Some tasks a service dog is trained to do may include:
- Picking up dropped items
- Being the eyes and ears
- Retrieving medications
- Calling 911 in an emergency
- Alerting to an oncoming seizure or drop in blood sugar
What Animals Can Qualify as an ESA?
As we mentioned earlier, not all ESA’s are dogs. In fact, any animal can be considered an emotional support animal. These include;
All emotional support animals are covered under Federal laws specifically the Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA) and the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA). This means your ESA will be allowed into “no pets” policy housing and also in the cabin of an airplane (regardless of the size of the ESA) with no additional cost to you. Please keep in mind, you will need to follow local rules and airline regulations around animals. You cannot violate local, state, or federal law by having an exotic emotional support animal that is prohibited by law.
Who Can Prescribe an ESA Letter?
If you are suffering from an emotional or mental disability and feel an ESA may be a good fit for you, there are a few ways to go about getting one. First off you must be diagnosed by a mental health professional, therapist or a psychologist. These are the only people that can prescribe an ESA. He/she must be licensed in their field and be willing to write you a letter/document stating you need an ESA.
If you are currently working with a therapist, ask them for an ESA Letter. If they do not believe in animal therapy or are unaware of the laws surround ESA regulations, we recommend you seek support from a legitimate ESA letter referral company. When working with an online referral company, please be sure you are working directly with a therapist. You do not want to risk having a fake ESA letter or an ESA letter written by a company, not a therapist.
The Emotional Support Dog Certification
With your letter/document from your attending mental health professional, you can then order for an emotional support certificate from a legitimate Assistance Animal Registry. Although not required at all times, you may consider ordering a vest, a custom identification card, and a certificate of registration for your personal convenience. You and your ESA will also be listed in the Assistance Animal Database of Service Dog Certification.
With this type of identification handy, your ESA will be immediately recognized as a assistance animal dog. This will save you time and frustration of explaining your ESA. If you are unaware of Emotional Support Animal rights, you may learn more here.
The Emotional Service Dog
There’s no doubt that having an emotional service dog (or other ESA) is giving many people back the confidence and ability to be happy. Don’t let an emotional or mental disability keep you or a loved one from living a normal life.
If your dog has been trained to perform a task for your disability, you may be interested in a Service Dog instead of an Emotional Support Animal. Service Dogs have more rights and are permitted full public access rights.