Emotional support animals are vital to the mental and emotional health of their owners. They offer support for people who live with health conditions that impact how they interact with the world around them. If you’re looking to get an ESA, you may be wondering what type of animal you should get.
The answer is that any animal can be an ESA – even a peacock! But the question remains: would a peacock make a good emotional support animal? The reality is that the more exotic the animal, the more challenges you may have taking them with you when you travel. Here’s what you need to know about peacocks as ESAs.
The Truth About ESAs
It’s important to understand that an emotional support animal is not the same thing as a service animal. Services animals have different standards for certification and have completed specialty training to be verified as a service animal.
Emotional support animals, on the other hand, are recommended by a therapist or doctor and don’t require any specific training or certifications to be named an ESA. That doesn’t mean that ESAs don’t do a job in providing support to their owners. However, it does mean they do not have the same protections or privileges under the law, particularly when it comes to public spaces.
Legal Protections For ESAs
Two main laws help to protect the rights of ESAs and their owners:
- The Air Carrier Access Act allows those traveling with ESAs to bring them onto the flight for free, even if the airline doesn’t allow animals.
- The Fair Housing Act allows ESA owners to live with their ESA, even if their housing accommodations do not allow pets. This includes colleges.
Can Any Animal Be An ESA?
In theory, any domesticated animal can be an ESA. That means you won’t see an emotional support cheetah any time soon, but many other animals can technically be made an ESA by a letter from a mental health professional. However, it’s important to keep in mind that there are exceptions in the case of what can make a good ESA.
First of all, while any domesticated animal can be an emotional support animal, most professionals who write ESA letters will be hesitant to write a letter for a particularly exotic animal. From their perspective, there must be clear evidence that an ESA provides a benefit to your mental and emotional health.
Second, some ESAs (including peacocks) won’t be eligible for entry into public places or on airplanes. The truth of the matter is that ESAs are not service animals, so if you want to bring them in public with you and take them with you when you travel, they need to be a species that would be accommodated in those places. (And when you consider the sheer size of a peacock and their plumage, it’s easy to see why it might be a little tough to take your emotional support peacock on a plane or out lunching with you!)
Finally, while an ESA is covered by the aforementioned laws to be allowed to travel with you by plane, many airlines restrict the types of ESAs allowed on board. Most will only allow cats or dogs to travel with you. Keep this in mind if you want your ESA to travel with you.
What Should You Look For in an Emotional Support Animal?
Every person has different needs, which is why you see so many different types of ESAs in the world. What would make a perfect ESA to one person may not suit another. If you’re unsure what type of ESA to choose, then consider what you’re hoping to get from the relationship. If you want a cuddly ESA you can pet, then a peacock may not fit the bill. Also ask yourself how often you will be leaving the animal at home and whether you need it to accompany you wherever you go. This can have an impact on what type of animal is best for your lifestyle and emotional needs.
In general, ESAs should be:
- Well behaved. If you want to take an ESA anywhere with you, they need to be under your control at all times. Your ESA cannot growl, run, bark, jump, or be aggressive toward others.
- Calm. Your ESA there is to provide emotional support, so you need an animal that can remain calm in all situations. A nervous, skittish animal probably won’t make a great ESA.
- Clean. An ESA that is housebroken and clean is best suited for traveling with you, whether you’re getting on a plane or staying in a hotel. People can refuse you entry if your ESA is unclean.
It’s important to think in a practical way about the type of animal you’ll choose to be your ESA. If you live in a place with wide-open spaces and want that emotional support peacock, then it just might work – but if you need an animal that can go with you everywhere, a less exotic ESA might be a better choice.