It is difficult to imagine life without domestic animals. The animals have provided us with companionship, protection, and security for centuries. Did you know that these animals significantly improve our health and well-being? Studies show that they can help in the recovery of patients undergoing physical rehabilitation and occupational and speech therapy.
This discovery brought about the idea of emotional support animals.
What is an emotional support animal (ESA)?
Emotional support animals refer to animals that provide companionship and comfort to people with emotional or mental disabilities. An emotional support animal (ESA) can help you to overcome a part of your disability or relieve its symptoms.
Most people who keep animals for emotional support prefer dogs. However, there are many other animals you can choose from, and examples include cats, birds, rabbits, pigs, horses, and hamsters.
Many individuals confuse service animals with emotional support animals. Service animals receive specialized training to enable them to perform tasks like guiding a blind person. Emotional support animals, on the other hand, are not trained and are there to provide you with companionship and affection.
Important considerations for living with an ESA
The number of people getting emotional support animals keeps rising as more individuals become aware of the health benefits associated with them. You can get yourself an emotional support animal by contacting an ESA doctor.
You need to consider some things before you take steps to get an emotional support animal. They include:
Are you eligible for an ESA?
You can’t just walk into a market or go online and buy an emotional support animal. There is a procedure that needs to be followed. For you to get one, you need approval from a licensed therapist or psychologist—the recommendation from a professional show that you need an ESA for your emotional and mental well-being.
These guidelines have been put in place to prevent individuals from abusing the law and the privilege of having an ESA.
Why do you need an ESA?
Having an animal to keep you entertained and take cute photos sounds nice. However, this is not the role of an emotional support animal.
Before you request an emotional support dog, cat, or rabbit, you need to ask yourself why you need it. Are you in college, and the pressure of studying is giving you significant anxiety and depression? Did you go through a traumatic experience that you haven’t recovered from? Are you going through an emotionally draining journey in your life? Knowing the role you want an ESA to play in your life will help you and your mental health professional to determine whether you need the animal or if you can get alternative ways to deal with your situation.
As I have stated earlier, these animals do not have any training, and they are not there to perform activities that services animals perform. Therefore, you should be prepared for the process of getting accustomed to each other.
Laws on accommodation of ESA
It is vital to know the regulations governing having an emotional support animal to make your life easier and avoid getting in trouble with law enforcement. For example, the Fair Housing Act (FHA) gives you have the freedom to rent a condo, home, or apartment in the United States with your ESA. This applies even to buildings that do not allow one to live with pets.
The Act directs property owners to provide reasonable accommodations for individuals living with disabilities and requiring ESAs. What you need to do is provide your ESA letter.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) property owners are required to make their buildings accessible to animals to accommodate those with emotional support animals.
You should know that you should not be denied housing because of your ESA. Additionally, your landlord cannot restrict the size, type, or breed of an emotional support animal you should have.
Knowing the laws on accommodation of ESA will prevent you from being bullied or discriminated against when living with your ESA. It will also help you understand the restrictions your landlord is allowed to set.
You can’t take an emotional support dog and tie it to your gate to provide you with security. Such actions will land you in trouble because these animals are there to provide emotional support.
The size and temperament of your ESA
The temperament and size of your ESA matter a lot. Imagine hosting friends or taking your dog for a walk, and they keep on attacking people? This will put restrictions on where you can go. You can avoid this kind of stress by getting a dog that is stable, friendly, and easy-going.
Now, imagine a scenario where your dog is too big for you to carry if they get tired or one that scares people because of their size. This is not an ideal situation.
Although there are no studies on it, some people who have adopted small emotional support animals say they come with advantages. You can also enjoy these advantages, especially if you consider the factors discussed above.
Mango Clinic provides services on emotional support animals. For example, we can give you an ESA letter to get you started on the journey to having an emotional support animal. Set up an appointment with our licensed doctors through our website.