Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) provide support and assurance to those who need comfort the most. While different from service animals, ESAs are vital to those with emotional or mental disabilities. Learn how your pet might qualify as an ESA and the benefits of an emotional support animal.

Emotional support animals can reduce anxiety, depression, feelings of loneliness, and in fact can even help those with PTSD. Unlike service animals, ESAs don’t require any specific training. They just need to provide support for an emotional or mental disability via their companionship.

It’s important to note that ESAs are different from service animals, which means that ESAs aren’t protected by the same laws as support animals. However, it doesn’t mean that they can’t benefit their owners, though.

Benefits of Having an Emotional Support Animal

While we are most familiar with dogs as ESAs, any pet that you are legally allowed to own as a pet can serve as an emotional support animal.

An ESA can have a surprisingly big impact on a range of different emotional and mental illnesses. Here are some examples of how ESAs significantly help their owners:

  • Reduce Anxiety and Depression
  • Relieve Stress
  • Reduce Loneliness
  • Improve Sleep
  • Encourage exercise and physical activity

Qualifications for an Emotional Support Animal

To make sure you and your animal qualify, you will need to obtain an ESA letter that you can present to landlords and others as proof that you require your animal with you.

First, you will need to connect with a licensed mental health professional in your state and complete a mental health evaluation to determine the type of mental or emotional health challenge you are suffering from. This process will determine how your disability is specifically improved by having your pet present.

Here are some examples of challenges that may qualify:

  • Anxiety
  • Panic Attacks
  • Depression
  • Phobias
  • Personality Disorder
  • PTSD
  • ADHD
  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Loneliness
  • And a host of other potential mental and emotional challenges

Once it is clear that your emotional support animal is definitely beneficial to you, your clinician will write a legal ESA letter that provides proof that your pet is an ESA. You can use this letter to move into any housing unit, visit public places, and even travel with your pet.

An Important Caveat

However, it’s very important to understand that ESAs do not have the same protection as service animals. Therefore, it’s absolutely possible you and your pet could be denied entry to public areas, businesses, and even airlines, so make sure you check policies beforehand.

For questions or to schedule an appointment, contact our office today.

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