What are Emotional Support Dogs and How to Know if You Need One
Dogs have been aiding and working with humans for centuries, in everything from farming, to hunting, to protection. Emotional support animals (ESAs) play an important role in assisting humans, but the term is frequently used interchangeably with other dog-specific jobs.
Here, we’ll explain what an ESA is, what differentiates them from other roles, and why you may need one.
What is an Emotional Support Animal?
Emotional support dogs or animals are defined by their ability to comfort people through companionship and affection. ESAs don’t receive formal training, but they can help those who suffer from emotional or mental issues like depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.
An ESA still needs to be certified by an official organization to receive benefits, like plane access.
What is the Difference Between an ESA and a Service Dog?
As defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a service dog is trained to perform specific tasks and work with people with disabilities.
A disability can involve a physical, sensory, intellectual, psychiatric, or other mental impairment that may reduce a person’s quality of life.
Emotional support animals (ESAs) assist humans in a variety of ways, but the term is frequently used interchangeably with other dog-specific jobs.
Breeds that are highly intelligent, friendly, calm, strong, tidy, and large are often trained to be service dogs, but any dog can be an ESA.
A Labrador Retriever, for example, can be both a service dog and an ESA, whereas a chihuahua can only be an ESA.
Service dogs have full public access rights. Because service dogs are expertly trained, they are allowed to enter public places, all housing situations (including those that do not accept pets), and all airlines for free.
They cannot, however, sit near the emergency exit.
Although ESAs can get around the “no pets allowed” policy when it comes to housing, they don’t have access to the majority of public spaces.
Airlines only allow smaller pets, which is why you’re more likely to see a small dog breed as an ESA. Unfortunately, airlines will charge a fee for an ESA.
How to Know When You Need an Emotional Support Animal
Here are a few ways you can determine whether or not you need an ESA.
1. Take an Online Assessment From a Trusted Source
The first step to registering your emotional support animal is by taking CertaPet’s ESA dog test . While it will not replace a doctor’s note, it will express whether or not you can have your pet certified. For accurate results, be truthful about your mental health, behavior, and symptoms.
Remember that these questions will inquire about your feelings, emotions, and symptoms of or related to depression, anxiety, drugs, alcohol, paranoia, and suicidal ideation.
Contact a psychiatrist for further treatment if you’re not in the right headspace to think about these topics.
2. Understand Which Disorders Will Qualify you for an ESA
They must have a mental or emotional health disability that limits their ability to perform major life activities in order to qualify for an emotional support animal.
A psychiatrist can tell if you meet the criteria by looking for one or more of the following:
A learning disability is a condition that makes it difficult for a person to acquire skills or knowledge appropriate for their age. Learning disabilities include autism and dyslexia.
Mood Disorders: Any condition that affects one’s mood, such as bipolar disorder, impulse control disorder, PTSD, and seasonal affective disorder.
Specific phobias or fears, as well as obsessive compulsive disorder, can limit a person’s ability to interact with the outside world.
ADHD or ADD: A neurological disorder that impairs focus, hyperactivity, and/or impulsivity, making it difficult for a person to hold a job or finish their education.
Depression: Categorized by intense sadness, depression and postpartum depression are disorders that make it difficult or impossible to feel happiness.
Anxiety: Categorized by an intense nervousness in certain situations, panic disorders, or generalized anxiety disorder makes it hard for someone to feel calm or stop worrying.
If you were diagnosed with any of the disorders listed above, you would most likely be eligible for an ESA.
However, if your self-assessment reveals that you may require a formal diagnosis, consult a psychologist.
3. Speak to a Mental Health Professional
Humans frequently struggle to evaluate themselves because we judge what is “normal” based on our own reality biases.
Based on the assumption that everyone must be feeling the same way, it can take years for someone to be diagnosed with depression, anxiety, or even Autism or ADHD.
We may not believe that these disorders exist or that they can be treated. The disorders discussed in the preceding section, on the other hand, are all very real and very normal.
There is someone else out there suffering from the same mental health disorder, and they can often be treated or managed through talk therapy, medications, or emotional support dogs.
Finally , if you want to register an ESA, speak with a licensed therapist who specializes in animal therapy who can assist you in receiving treatment for your disorder and writing you an ESA letter.
This letter can be used to demonstrate that you require an ESA certification from a reputable organization.
Housing Options for People Who Use Emotional Support Dogs
People who would use ESAs are entitled to certain accommodations with in areas of housing and air travel under federal law. ESAs are included in the Fair Housing Act’s meaning of assistance animals.
People cannot be discriminated against in the housing market because of their disability, according to the act.
People with a prescription for an ESA are exempt from pet bans or restrictions, and they cannot be billed a pet deposit for possessing their ESA live with them.