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Benefits From Owning Emotional Support Animals

As a matter of fact, almost everyone has heard about the healing power of some domestic animals like cats and dogs. But have you heard that there is a special type of animal known as an emotional support animal (ESA)? It is a pet, which provides comfort and helps relieve unpleasant feelings like anxiety, psychiatric disorders, or the effect of a person's disability just by being with a person.

How can pet owners benefit from emotional support animals?

Unlike a service animal, an emotional support animal doesn't undergo special training. ESA is not expected to perform any tasks other than what a pet of the same species would perform. As a matter of fact, dogs are believed to be the most common species to perform emotional support animals task. Although, the Fair Housing Act (FHAct) does not impose restrictions on the species able to qualify as emotional support animals. It means that any animal or breed can be qualified as an emotional support one, if it helps you to support an emotional condition. So if you have noticed that your dog helps you cope with anxiety, loneliness, depression, or even blood pressure, you are a lucky owner of such a pet and can gain some health benefits.

It should be mentioned, that ESA provides assistance for people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorders, a kind of mental disability or psychiatric diagnosis, and can be even prescribed by a therapist as a therapy. In such a way your lovely dog can be not only your closest friend but a proper remedy.

Some peculiarities concerning the documentation

Frankly speaking, not all landlords are ready to welcome any pet into their accommodation. In such a case people with disabilities and mental illness can be given an ESA letter stating their need for an emotional support animal. Such documents can be issued by a psychologist, psychiatrist, qualified mental health professional, therapist, or physician.

The problem is that some people try to fabricate documentation to gain some additional benefits like avoiding extra costs, paying damage deposits for pets in a rental apartment, or extra baggage fees for taking an animal to the airlines. To deal with such a problem the revision of the Air Carrier Access Act in December 2020 took place.

The federal laws in some US states determine that mental health professionals may become subject to legal prosecution for providing ESA letters for people without post-traumatic stress disorder or mental illness for which animal emotional support is needed. In some states, such actions concerning emotional support animals could be qualified as a criminal misdemeanor. 

Despite the fact that pets are forbidden on board the aircraft, if the pet owners can present a legal action from a certified healthcare provider, certifying that the pet provides emotional support that reduces one or more of the symptoms or effects of the disability he or she may be allowed to take their assistance animals with them.

Under the rules of the US Department of Transportation, the doctor or therapist who gives legal evidence of some medical problems is required to be currently providing medical advice to the passenger. Moreover, airline companies can refuse to accept certificates that are more than one year old and may demand that the legitimate documents should be provided on the letterhead of a licensed mental health professional who provides treatment to people with mental problems. Although, it is still difficult to say whether these rules still in force after accepting ESAs newest revision.

Another important document is known as the Americans with Disabilities Act, thanks to which people with disabilities can take their trained service animals in public places. Although, a public place can ban an emotional support animal admission.

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