Over the years, mental healthcare has steadily improved due to better treatments, awareness and education, and more efforts to eliminate the stigmas associated with mental illness. There are many ways that people deal with their issues on a day-to-day basis.
Emotional support animals are one of the tools that people use. They have become increasingly popular because of their therapeutic benefits (and their adorable faces).
Whether you’re looking to register your emotional support animal or want to learn more about them, we’ve compiled ten useful facts about ESAs. Keep reading for more information!
10 – ESAs Require a Prescription from a Mental Health Professional
To obtain an emotional support animal, you must go through a licensed mental health professional. Your therapist will determine whether an ESA is right for your situation. They will provide you with the official letter you need to qualify your animal as an ESA.
09 – ESAs Require a Letter of Certification
ESAs have certain legal protections, similar to service animals. To access these protections, you must provide documentation when asked. Keep your letter, or a copy of your letter, with you and your ESA at all times.
08 – Animals of Varying Species Can Qualify
Did you know that ESAs do not have to be one specific breed or species? People can have emotional support dogs, cats, rabbits, horses, etc. Your animal must be well-behaved if entering public spaces and be safe for others to be around, but if it meets those qualifications, it’s a viable companion!
07 – ESAs Don’t Require Specific Training
Unlike service animals, emotional support animals don’t require specific training. They provide emotional stability to their owners. They should still be well-behaved when entering public spaces, however.
06 – They Can Fly with Their Handlers
Emotional support animals can accompany their handlers in the cabin of a commercial aircraft while traveling. This protection comes from the Air Carrier Access Act and applies to both ESAs and service animals.
05 – ESAs Can Reside in Pet-Free Housing
Another protection given to ESAs is they can reside in per-free housing, including rental properties such as houses or apartments, as well as dorms and other residences. The Fair Housing Act ensures this protection.
04 – They Help People Cope with Various Psychological Conditions
Research has shown that emotional support animals can help people with anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other psychological conditions. ESAs are usually one element in a more extensive treatment plan. As companions, they also combat loneliness, which can exacerbate many of these conditions.
03 – ESA Dogs Do Not Have a Size Restriction
If you have a dog that you want to become your ESA, there are no size restrictions. Whether you’ve got a Great Dane or a Chihuahua, your pup can become an emotional support animal.
02 – ESA Handlers Do Not Have to Answer Questions About Their Disability
If you have an ESA or a service animal, you have certain legal protections as a handler. One of the major ones is privacy. Although a business may ask you to provide your ESA letter, they can’t inquire about the nature of your disability.
01 – They Are Still Subject to Certain Regulations
Although ESAs have a variety of legal protections, they are still subject to specific rules and regulations. For example, when you’re traveling, you must comply with a country or state’s regulations for quarantining and vaccinations.
There more you know about ESAs now, the better handler you’ll be down the road. You’ll also be better equipped to have productive conversations about ESAs and their role in mental health treatment.