Is an Emotional Support Animal Right for You?

Posted Sep 14, 2021

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For some people, pets are more than companions. They provide psychological support and can help ease anxiety, phobias, or depression. Called emotional support animals, they are considered essential to their humans’ mental health.

If you are thinking of getting an emotional support animal, here are some things to know.

Emotional support animals versus assistance animals

Emotional support animals are often mistaken for assistance animals, which are trained in specific tasks that help someone with a disability. For example, a service dog may be trained to open doors, push buttons, and retrieve objects for someone who uses a wheelchair.

An emotional support animal:

  • Can be any species
  • Does not have to be trained for a specific task
  • Is not allowed in public places with two exceptions: housing that has a "no pets" policy, according to the Fair Housing Act; and on a commercial airline without charge, according to the Air Carrier Access Act.

Note: In both cases, you may need documentation from a mental health professional that your animal provides you with emotional support.

An assistance animal is:

  • A dog, although in certain cases, an assistance animal may be a miniature horse
  • Trained to do specific work or perform tasks for a person with a disability
  • Allowed with its handler into public places, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act

If you want to have your pet documented as an emotional support animal, your doctor or mental health professional may be able to provide the documentation that you need. Be aware that organizations that “certify” your pet as an emotional support animal for a fee may exist solely to make money and may not have you or your animal’s best interests in mind.

Flying with an emotional support animal

If you are considering bringing your animal with you on an airplane, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Will my pet be calm and confident in the airport, during takeoff and landing, and while in the air? There have been incidents of animals becoming stressed, anxious, and even aggressive in those situations.
  • Is there a chance my animal will relieve himself on the plane? Even fully housebroken pets may have accidents on board because of anxiety.
  • Is it fair to put my pet through the experience of flying on a plane?
  • Is it fair to the airplane crew and the other passengers to take the chance that my animal may have a bad reaction to flying?

Unless they are specifically trained and socialized to be in public places and on airplanes, most animals do best in their own environments.

You can enjoy the psychological benefits of your pet without having it documented as an emotional support animal. Take some time to consider what is best for both of you.

Source: Military OneSource

For some people, pets are more than companions. They provide psychological support and can help ease anxiety, phobias, or depression. Called emotional support animals, they are considered essential to their humans’ mental health.

If you are thinking of getting an emotional support animal, here are some things to know.

Emotional support animals versus assistance animals

Emotional support animals are often mistaken for assistance animals, which are trained in specific tasks that help someone with a disability. For example, a service dog may be trained to open doors, push buttons, and retrieve objects for someone who uses a wheelchair.

An emotional support animal:

  • Can be any species
  • Does not have to be trained for a specific task
  • Is not allowed in public places with two exceptions: housing that has a "no pets" policy, according to the Fair Housing Act; and on a commercial airline without charge, according to the Air Carrier Access Act.

Note: In both cases, you may need documentation from a mental health professional that your animal provides you with emotional support.

An assistance animal is:

  • A dog, although in certain cases, an assistance animal may be a miniature horse
  • Trained to do specific work or perform tasks for a person with a disability
  • Allowed with its handler into public places, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act

If you want to have your pet documented as an emotional support animal, your doctor or mental health professional may be able to provide the documentation that you need. Be aware that organizations that “certify” your pet as an emotional support animal for a fee may exist solely to make money and may not have you or your animal’s best interests in mind.

Flying with an emotional support animal

If you are considering bringing your animal with you on an airplane, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Will my pet be calm and confident in the airport, during takeoff and landing, and while in the air? There have been incidents of animals becoming stressed, anxious, and even aggressive in those situations.
  • Is there a chance my animal will relieve himself on the plane? Even fully housebroken pets may have accidents on board because of anxiety.
  • Is it fair to put my pet through the experience of flying on a plane?
  • Is it fair to the airplane crew and the other passengers to take the chance that my animal may have a bad reaction to flying?

Unless they are specifically trained and socialized to be in public places and on airplanes, most animals do best in their own environments.

You can enjoy the psychological benefits of your pet without having it documented as an emotional support animal. Take some time to consider what is best for both of you.

Source: Military OneSource

For some people, pets are more than companions. They provide psychological support and can help ease anxiety, phobias, or depression. Called emotional support animals, they are considered essential to their humans’ mental health.

If you are thinking of getting an emotional support animal, here are some things to know.

Emotional support animals versus assistance animals

Emotional support animals are often mistaken for assistance animals, which are trained in specific tasks that help someone with a disability. For example, a service dog may be trained to open doors, push buttons, and retrieve objects for someone who uses a wheelchair.

An emotional support animal:

  • Can be any species
  • Does not have to be trained for a specific task
  • Is not allowed in public places with two exceptions: housing that has a "no pets" policy, according to the Fair Housing Act; and on a commercial airline without charge, according to the Air Carrier Access Act.

Note: In both cases, you may need documentation from a mental health professional that your animal provides you with emotional support.

An assistance animal is:

  • A dog, although in certain cases, an assistance animal may be a miniature horse
  • Trained to do specific work or perform tasks for a person with a disability
  • Allowed with its handler into public places, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act

If you want to have your pet documented as an emotional support animal, your doctor or mental health professional may be able to provide the documentation that you need. Be aware that organizations that “certify” your pet as an emotional support animal for a fee may exist solely to make money and may not have you or your animal’s best interests in mind.

Flying with an emotional support animal

If you are considering bringing your animal with you on an airplane, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Will my pet be calm and confident in the airport, during takeoff and landing, and while in the air? There have been incidents of animals becoming stressed, anxious, and even aggressive in those situations.
  • Is there a chance my animal will relieve himself on the plane? Even fully housebroken pets may have accidents on board because of anxiety.
  • Is it fair to put my pet through the experience of flying on a plane?
  • Is it fair to the airplane crew and the other passengers to take the chance that my animal may have a bad reaction to flying?

Unless they are specifically trained and socialized to be in public places and on airplanes, most animals do best in their own environments.

You can enjoy the psychological benefits of your pet without having it documented as an emotional support animal. Take some time to consider what is best for both of you.

Source: Military OneSource

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, assessments, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological, or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2019 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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