The use of emotional support animals (ESAs) to assist patients with psychological or mental health problems has been on the rise lately. Many therapists believe that having a pet can alleviate anxiety, depression, and stress, so they actively advise their patients to get an ESA. No one can deny that having a pet around is great, but there are many considerations you should keep in mind before getting your ESA. If you have been thinking about getting an ESA, but are unsure if it is the right choice, read on for more information.
Emotional Support Animals Are Not Service Animals
There is some confusion when it comes to the terms “ESAs” and “service animals,” as many people think that the two terms are interchangeable, but this could not be further from the truth. In fact, the term “service animals” usually refers to dogs that are trained to assist physically disabled people. So, you may find service animals for people with hearing disabilities or blind individuals. On the other hand, emotional support animals or “ESAs” refer to any animal that is used to help patients with psychological problems like anxiety and depression. Such animals are not required to have special training. Basically, think of ESAs as pets, you adopt for therapeutic purposes.
Getting an ESA and Adopting a Pet Are Not the Same
While ESAs are essentially pets, the process of getting one is not as simple as adopting an animal. When adopting an animal, you can go to a shelter or a certified breeder and get your pet, no questions asked. However, there are rules for getting an emotional support animal. The process is not overly complicated, but you need to be aware of its ins and outs if you want everything to go smoothly. Certified therapists from Therapetic.org explain on their website that you must pass a screening first to find out whether or not you are qualified for getting an ESA. Then, you must have a consultation with a certified mental health professional to know whether getting an ESA is beneficial for your case or not. If you are qualified, you can get your ESA letter, and consequently your emotional support animal without any hassle. An important tip, though, is to keep that letter in a safe place because you may need to show it to your landlord or airlines when needed.
Picking the Right ESA
Because you have freedom when it comes to the species of your ESA, you may be a bit indecisive, as there are many great animals out there. Nonetheless, by figuring out your needs, you can get a suitable ESA. Think about your circumstances; are you usually busy with work? Are you willing to handle the costs of an ESA? Getting an ESA is a big responsibility, so make sure that you can take care of a dog if you decide to get one. If you do not have much experience with animals and want a species that does not require much attention, you can get a fish or even a reptile. The sky is the limit, but always make sure you know what you are signing up for.
Having an ESA Grants You Some Extra Rights
Finally, some good news! While it sounds too good to be true, you can actually get a few exceptions when you have an ESA. For example, if you are renting and your landlord has a strict “no pets” policy, you can get an exception by showing them your ESA letter. However, if you plan to get a horse as an ESA, do not expect your landlord to accommodate it. Also, many airlines allow you to have your pet with you in the passenger cabin as long as it is small enough. So, if you get a dog or a cat, you are good to go. On the downside, you cannot get the same rights when entering a public facility with your ESA. Restaurants and grocery shops can refuse to let in your ESA. Thus, always check the rules of the place before demanding your rights as an ESA handler. However, if your ESA harms another person, you will be also required to pay compensation. So, you are still accountable for its actions.
Animals can help people recover from psychological issues with their loving companionship. However, you should know what getting an ESA entails. The process of getting an ESA is the first thing you will need to get through. After that, you need to make sure that you understand your rights and duties as a handler. In no time, you will notice that your ESA is making a difference in your life.