Emotional Support Animals (ESA’s) are animals that offer companionship to individuals with disabilities. Dogs are the most common emotional support animals but cats and other animals have also been used for emotional support.
These animals are meant to offer emotional support and companionship to their owners to help alleviate distress and improve their mental condition.
They offer numerous benefits
Backed by research, emotional support animals have been proved to offer a range of benefits to their owners. Simply having a pet can go a long way to alleviating your emotions and boost your mental health. Emotional support animals offer companionship and comfort to individuals going through a challenging phase of life.
Petting an emotional support animal also helps to boost mood making one feel relaxed, and that is why they are used to help people with anxiety. Surprisingly, emotional support animals help individuals with a disability to cope with pain as well as lower blood pressure. What’s more, having an emotional support animal as a companion will help to combat loneliness as well as give them a sense of purpose as they will feel indebted to reciprocate the care to the animals.
Laws around ESA’s
There are laws under the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Federal Fair Housing Act that are in favor of emotional support animals. These laws require house providers to make exceptions for any rules restricting pets in their establishments.
If the resident has any kind of disability and has an animal companion who offers any kind of support to alleviate his/her condition, then any ‘pet ban’ should be lifted to accommodate them. While ESA owners are allowed to publicly walk with their animals by the American with Disabilities Act, it is important to know the laws surrounding ESA’s because these laws don’t cover support animals.
Before obtaining an ESA, make sure you consult your therapist about it to establish whether it is necessary to obtain one. If you feel that getting a support animal will help improve your condition, also consult with your therapist to decide which animal you like best.
Getting a support animal for the wrong reasons may negatively impact the privileges that people who genuinely need it get. So, it is only right to get one if you actually need support and companionship to help with your disorder or disability. Also, if you need to legitimately get a support animal, make sure you follow the right channels and avoid getting tricked and conned of your money.
Emotional support animals differ from service animals
Both ESAs and service animals have common similarities but they have their own differences. While emotional support animals offer companionship and support to their owners, service animals help individuals with disabilities to perform particular tasks.
Service animals are trained to help people with disabilities of psychiatric, mental, intellectual, physical, and sensory nature. Also, psychiatric service animals and emotional support animals should not be confused as they have distinctive benefits.