A dog is often called one of the most loyal and devoted friends. People often get a dog to cope with boredom and loneliness. However, dogs are not only great pets. They can be real emotional support animals that help their handler to get through tough periods of life. These animals are usually prescribed as prevention and therapy for lots of mental or emotional impairments.
Nowadays assistance animals have become a habitual phenomenon. Nevertheless, don’t forget that in some countries an emotional support animal still doesn’t have an official status like service or work animals do. So, a person should have all necessary documentation for service animals like a letter from a doctor and a reasonable accommodation request. In some cases, a person may seek legal advice to resolve controversial issues that may appear, for example, with airlines where pets are banned.
What is an emotional support animal?
An emotional support animal (ESA) is an assistance animal that is usually recommended for people who need emotional support. These animals are specifically individually trained to be great companions and partners. They are trained to perform different household tasks for the benefit of their owner as most assistance animals are. Meanwhile, they are doing much better in giving emotional support. An emotional support dog is a licensed mental health professional that has been trained for a couple of years to service people in need.
Although the Americans with disabilities act still haven’t confirmed the official status of emotional support dogs as service animals, most therapists agree that getting a dog could be good therapy for various mental disabilities. Moreover, in some cases dog can replace a medical professional because it’s specially trained to do work like this. Service dogs not only provide emotional support but are also tamed to work or perform tasks that reduce signs of different emotional disabilities.
In which cases do I need ESA?
Primarily doctors recommend getting a dog to fight the constant feeling of loneliness and lingering depression. Yet, the list of mental and emotional illnesses which can be alleviated by a service dog is much longer. Psychiatric service dogs are licensed, mental health professionals. That’s why dog therapy is great for such mental illness or emotional disability as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and different personality disorders.
A therapist or social worker can also recommend getting an emotional support animal for people who have antisocial personality disorders like sociopathy. Moreover, emotional support animals can help to deal with phobias and fears. People get an emotional support that comforts them, makes them feel confident, and reduces feelings of fear. Emotional support animals can be adjunctive therapy during the treatment of eating disorders.
Obviously, ESA provides emotional support. However, benefit from an emotional support dog also includes boosting a level of self-confidence, maintaining a good mood and optimistic posture, keeping an active and healthy lifestyle, making new acquaintances and friends.
Emotional support animals’ rights
The Americans with disability act and federal laws are the main sources of emotional support animals’ rights. ESA’s rights primarily connected to access at different public places and accommodation qualify for an ESA. If a dog is a licensed health professional that takes care of a person’s disability, federal law permits the animals to accompany their owners wherever they go. The handler must have documentation that proves the pet’s status, for example, a letter from a doctor or therapist or he can register his dog online and receive an Emotional Support Dog plastic ID card (ID card like driver license). These rights are commonly spread in catering places and housing.
Moreover, the Department of transportation allows an emotional support animal to accompany its owner in almost all means of public transport. This applies to both short- and long-distance travel. Yet, emotional support animal isn’t considered to be assistance animal by ADA, so it’s better to choose pet-friendly airlines for air travel.
Fair Housing Act for ESAs
Though pet-friendly airlines make life much easier for dog owners, some problems still may appear, especially in housing. Some housing providers can be quite categorical against animals in the house or apartment. A landlord usually worries about the safety of his or her property ns the safety of others.
Due to special training, a service dog is absolutely safe for other people. It may be aggressive only if it feels bad intentions or danger from the strangers. And if we are talking about possible damage to housing providers’ property, the law allows landlords to ask about the deposit which, if necessary, will cover all repair costs.
According to the FHA and the laws of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), any person with a disability can make a reasonable accommodation request to the housing provider, backing it up with a letter from a doctor confirming a disability. In this case, the landlord cannot refuse housing. The decisive role in this situation is played by the fact that a service dog isn’t a pet, but a partner. So, the regulations prohibiting pets do not apply to it. However, a landlord can individually ask the government to evict ESAs and their owners if their residence will violate public order and will be a threat to other habitats.