When we think of animals helping people, we tend to think of the military and police animals who actively protect our safety or service animals who help disabled individuals to maintain a good quality of life. We think of. We think of guide dogs leading the blind, dogs that alert the deaf to the presence of people or sounds, dogs that assist individuals during seizures, or dogs that alert their owners to the presence of allergens in food or other items.

Now, the services that all of these creatures provide us with are invaluable and something that we should be eternally grateful for. However, there are other ways that animals can support individuals in society too. Let’s take a moment to look at emotional support animals as a lesser known example!

What Are Emotional Support Animals?

Nowadays, we are more open to talking about mental health, which is a refreshing change from days gone by when this area of wellbeing was neglected by medical professionals. However, increasing awareness of the difficulties that individuals with mental health issues experience has resulted in increased means of support for these individuals. This is where emotional support animals come into play!

Emotional Support Animals otherwise referred to as “ESA”s, are companion creatures whose main role is to provide their owner or handler with a source of joy and love that can boost their mood and improve their overall health and well-being. Now, they may be beneficial to individuals suffering from all sorts of disabilities – physical, psychiatric, or intellectual – but the majority of the time you will find that ESAs benefit those suffering from emotional or mental health conditions most effectively.

Is My Pet an Emotional Support Animal?

If your pet significantly improves your mood and quality of life, chances are that they could be considered an emotional support animal. They do not require any specific training in order to be an ESA. However, in order to make their title or status of being an ESA official, a qualified psychiatrist will have to verify that your pet is truly beneficial to you and the life you are able to lead.

In a sense, a psychiatrist will have to prescribe your pet to you. You will then be provided with an emotional support animal letter of confirmation. Generally speaking, emotional support animals tend to be dogs, due to the loving and loyal nature of these creatures. However, pretty much any species of domesticated animal can qualify.

What Benefits Does ESA Certification Provide Me With?

There are two main benefits to having certification for your emotional support animal – clauses in the Air Carrier Access Act and the  Fair Housing Act. If you have ESA approval and can provide verified documentation for your animal, airlines cannot refuse transportation for your pet and they cannot demand advance notice before offering their services. In regards to the Fair Housing Act, landlords need to offer you reasonable accommodation, even if they usually enforce strict no-pet policies.

Landlords cannot refuse you housing based on your pet living in the property, and they cannot charge extra or advance deposit fees based on your pet living in the property. This makes living and getting about a whole lot easy for you.

While ESAs may not be a direct cure for emotional or mental struggles in your life, they can definitely have a significantly positive effect on your overall health and wellbeing. So, if you think that gaining official certification for your pet could improve your quality of life, start the process as soon as possible. Alternatively, if you know someone who is struggling who might benefit from an ESA, pass this information on!

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Brittany is a blogger who loves to do stories on people who make a difference in the world. She graduated from Northwestern University in 2010 in Sociology and currently works part time as a Social Worker.

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