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Emotional Support Animals are more than pets.


Emotional Support Animals Are Not “Just Pets.”

Emotional Support Animal:

Animals prescribed by a mental health professional as part of the treatment for a diagnosed mental or psychiatric disability.

ESAs can be a wide range of animals, from dogs, cats, rabbits and birds to miniature horses and pigs.

But how are they different from other animals you can own?

1. ESAs are not just pets that can cheer you up.

Pets can provide comfort during hard times, but ESAs alleviate symptoms for someone with a mental illness.

2. ESAs have professional documentation.

For an ESA to be legal, a mental health professional must write an official letter prescribing the ESA.

3. ESAs are not service animals.

Service animals need specific task-oriented training, while an ESA only needs to be well-behaved.

Service animals also have rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act to go anywhere with their handler, while ESAs only have the rights to ignore “no pet” housing and are allowed in the cabin of an aircraft.

Some people take advantage of ESAs with unofficial registration programs, which makes it more difficult for the people who actually need one to be taken seriously.

But an ESA can make a huge difference in the life of someone with a mental health condition.


Originally published: November 16, 2017
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