Ever since dogs were first domesticated by humans, they have served as great companions animals. They help humans hunt for food, track objects, and even help in protecting us from physical dangers.
However, dogs are not just important in providing services, but in providing emotional comfort and support as well. With 7.7 million U.S. adults, or 3.5% of the population affected by post-traumatic stress disorder, dogs have never been more needed for emotional support. People with PTSD and other mental disorders can receive comfort from a canine friend by having a certified emotional support animal or ESA.
An ESA is an animal that has been certified to provide necessary emotional comfort to its owner. This certification allows the animal to be with its owner in many public and private locations that would otherwise not allow animals.
However, there is a lot that many people do not know about the function of ESAs and the laws surrounding ESA ownership. To better understand the importance of ESAs, don’t believe these false myths about the laws surrounding ESA ownership.
Common Misconceptions About ESAs:
Only Trained Animals Can Be ESAs
One myth is that animals must be officially trained before becoming an ESA. In reality any animal, including animals which are already part of the household, can become an ESA. Animals already in the household most often act as the best candidate for a person’s ESA since there is already a bond between the owner and the animal. If someone does not have a pet in the household already, then choosing rescue animals as ESAs is also an option.
Emotional Support Animals Are The Same As Service Animals
While ESAs are important to providing comfort to those with mental health concerns, they do not perform the same activities as service dogs. Service dogs are used to provide physical support as well as mental support to their owners. Such physical support requires specific training depending on how the service dog is going to aid their owner. For instance, a guide dog must be trained to help their owners with vision or hearing difficulties navigate, or help a diabetic recognize when their blood sugar levels are high or low. In comparison, ESAs provide support for their owner simply through being by their side, especially during moments of stress or depression.
For people overcoming social anxiety disorder or any other mental health disorders, getting an ESA may be the next step in the healing process. Hopefully, busting these myths has better informed you of the rights of ESA owners, and the laws surrounding ESA ownership.