Emotional support animals are a fairly recent phenomenon in the therapy world but one that has helped countless people regain a sense of balance and normalcy to their lives. They offer a sense of companionship, motivation, comfort, connection and support to their ESA owners and can often be of great assistance in a patient’s therapy plan.
ESA pets, unlike service animals, are, for the most part, untrained and are simply there to help ease feelings of anxiety and alleviate symptoms caused by a variety of mental, psychological and minor physical illnesses. There is an array of conditions that could benefit from the use of an emotional support animal, including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, panic and personality disorders, phobias, learning difficulties, and attention deficit disorders.
But how do you go about getting your emotional support animal letter, and what do you need to qualify? This article aims to outline the process, what you’ll need to apply for your emotional support animal letter, some of the things to consider once you’ve gotten your emotional support animal letter, and what kind of ESA that you should choose.
What You’ll Need To Apply For Your Emotional Support Animal Letter
All you’ll need to apply for an emotional support animal letter is a recommendation from a licensed physician stating that you suffer from some form of mental, psychological or physical condition and that your life would be improved with access to an emotional support animal. Any mental health practitioner can issue the recommendation, and with that, you can easily register your animal online and receive all the benefits and extended rights that come from having an emotional support animal letter.
What Rights You Gain When You Receive Your Emotional Support Animal Letter
The two major advantages of registering your pet as an emotional support animal are that you’ll be able to fly with your pet free of charge on any commercial airline and you’ll be able to live with your pet irrespective of whether your tenancy agreement includes any strict no-pet policies. Some of the things that you will not be able to do are take your pet on public transport and into restaurants or other private spaces that do not allow animals on the premises. Some buses or train guards may be sympathetic to your predicament, but they are under no legal obligation to allow you to come on board. The same is true of retailers and restaurant owners.
Things to Remember When Flying with Your ESA
You’ll need to contact the airline at least 48 hours prior to departure and let them know the size and breed of your pet. Larger animals and breeds may require you to move to a seat with more space, such as an emergency exit. Make sure that you have your emotional support animal letter with you at all times, as when flying with your ESA, your letter will be as essential as your passport in terms of your rights to fly with your pet.
Most importantly, make sure that you choose an animal or breed that is calm and quiet as any antisocial behavior can result in both you and your pet being denied access to the flight. This particular point is important in all aspects of responsibly owning an ESA. Even though your pet may aid in calming you down, it could easily have the opposite effect on other members of the public. Just remember that if you want your rights to be taken seriously, then you’ll need to make sure that you respect the rights of others.
Things To Consider When Choosing Your ESA
What kind of space do you live in? Is it an apartment or a house? Do you have a yard or easy access to a park? What’s your schedule like? Are you going to be able to take your emotional support animal on regular walks if it needs it? Does your housing association usually enforce a no-pets policy? Can you afford veterinary care for your ESA?
All these things are crucially important to think about when choosing which ESA will be best suited to you and your lifestyle. Larger pets, such as bigger dog breeds, horses and pigs, will obviously need more space; a yard to run around in; and regular exercise to keep them from becoming anxious. If you live in an apartment, then smaller dog breeds, cats, rabbits and rats would be a better choice because they require much less room and tend to not get as restless.
Your schedule is another important factor to consider, and those who lead busier should consider a low-maintenance pet such as rats or mice. If your housing association would usually enforce a no-pet policy then you should be respectful of this and pick and ESA that’s quiet, hygienic and one that tends not to bark excessively. Purebreds might look cute, but due to inbreeding, they can often be riddled with hidden genetic disorders and illnesses such as respiratory and digestive problems, arthritis, and skin conditions. If you can’t afford a decent health plan then you should consider a mixed-breed mutt or another animal that won’t require such expensive hands-on care.