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Understanding Your Cat’s Body Language

 

Cats make for great companions. Petting a cat can be so comforting, which is one of the reasons why cats make for excellent emotional support animals. These feline creatures are also very easy to look after, which removes any maintenance-related stress.

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Contrary to what you may have heard, cats are anything but aloof. They may be quiet and less vocal than dogs, but cats are great conversationalists if you can understand how and what they are communicating. 

Unless you have some special powers that allow you to decipher your cat’s sweet and adorable meows, the key to communication with your cat is in understanding the body language.  Fortunately, learning and mastering feline communication is quite easy. Master this and you can enjoy an even deeper bond and relationship with your cat.

What does cat body language mean? How do you tell if your cat loves you? What does it mean when your cat puts his paw on you? These are no doubt some of the questions you may have. In this blog, we will highlight what you should know about communicating with your cat.

What Does A Cat Body Language Mean?

A cat’s body language comprises of both the subtle and the hard-to-miss. Again, keep in mind that the meaning of a specific body language may vary depending on the context. Take, for example, the high tail. Your cat may lift its tail high up in the air when it is feeling confident comfortable and open to interactions. However, the high tail, in a different context, such as when a stranger cat comes into your cat’s territory, is an indication of its willingness and readiness to attack.

Cats
Cat Body Languages

That said here is a look at the 3 major areas of interest vis-a-vis cat body language.

Reading the Eyes and Ears

If your cat is sending slow blinks your way, you have every reason to smile. These blinks are the equivalent of kisses, and it’s your cat’s way of saying they love you. 

Dilated pupils are a sign of excitement. You need to be aware of the context and other gestures to know if its playful excitement, or the kind that comes with being scared. Constricted, or slit pupils, on the other hand, are your cat’s way of communicating their annoyance. You may want to take that as a sign to give your cat a treat.

With ears, they will be slightly forward if your cat is feeling playful or curious. It is true that cats have super hearing, so if you notice your cat’s ears are straight and upright, then you can be sure something has their attention. If the ears are pinned back and flat, which is often accompanied by some growls, then know your cat is angry for whatever reason, or frightened.

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Body Shape and Posture

If your cat is feeling frightened, or angry, they will try to make themselves big in various ways. It is a form of defense. For example, your cat may put its back all the way up when it is ready for a confrontation. With the back arched this way, your cat’s hairs will often stand up, making it look even bigger and more intimidating.

If your cat stretches out on its back, with its belly exposed, it’s a show that it’s not feeling threatened, and open to interactions. On the other hand, if your cat rolls into a ball, then it’s a clear pointer that it is not open to advances. Similarly, when your cat is feeling anxious or frightful, it will tend to crouch down. 

You can also tell a lot from your cat’s body orientation. If your cat is standing sideways to you or crouched down, it may be because they are considering escape. If your cat has their body and head pointed towards you, it’s because they are interested and receptive to you. 

Watch the Tail

Cats communicate most with their tail. You, therefore, need to be on the lookout for the tell-tails. 

Your cat wagging its tail at you is often because the cat is frustrated with you.  If you are trying to pet your cat and it wags its tail, you may want to stop to avoid scratches. On the other hand, if your cat is only twitching its tail, that is, flicking the tip of its tail, it’s a show of your cat being in a good mood.

If the tail is curved up like a question mark, take it that your cat is ready to play. If your cat’s tail is tucked in between its legs, this is a sign of submission and possibly anxiety. 

As mentioned, the puffed-up tail is not among the positive tail-tells. It shows that your cat is feeling terrified, and may start to hiss and growl in preparation for an attack.

Cat Breeds
Adopted Cat Breeds in the US

 

How Do You Tell Your Cat Loves You?

Cats can be quite affectionate and among the ways, you can tell your cat loves you include the following:

  • Greets you at the door
  • Follows you around
  • Stares at you, right into your eyes
  • Blinks at you
  • Meows and purrs softly at you
  • Allows you to stroke and pet them
  • Heat-butts you
  • Rubs against your legs
  • Licks you
  • Gently bites or nips at you
  • Doesn’t bite you hard
  • Kneads your legs
  • Touches you with light taps of their paws
  • Sits and sleeps on your laps, head, and other body parts
  • Shows you their belly
  • Brings you little presents
  • Curves the tip of their tail for you

Each cat is different, and if you have been observing your cat well enough, you should be able to add it to the list above.

What Does it Mean When a Cat Puts its Paws on You?

Kneading. That’s the proper term for what cats do when they rhythmically push their paws in and out. Because it looks like the cat is kneading dough, this display is commonly referred to as making biscuits. 

Cats will knead on just about any soft surface be it a soft blanket, or your body when lying on you. If this happens to you, you should feel great about it.

Why? Kneading is instinctive trait cats carry from when they are little kittens. Kittens paw at their mothers’ tummies while feeding to encourage the letdown of milk from the mother’s teats. If your cat is kneading at you, then it’s a sign that they feel happy, relaxed, and comfortable around you, much like when they were doing the same with their mother. 

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Cats also knead as a way to mark territory. On the cat’s paws are scent glands that release pheromones. As your cat pushes its paws in and out, they activate these glands, and the scent serves to mark territory and keep other cats away.

Other reasons for kneading include making a nest and as a demonstration to the male cats that they are ready to mate when they go into heat.

Better Relationship

As with human-to-human relationships, communication is everything in building and strengthening the relationship you have with your cat. Master your cat’s body language and you will know how to respond accordingly and with time, deepen your bond.

Ask the Experts

Find more pointers to improve communication with your furry feline by talking to the real and experienced pet doctors. Get in touch for more details, and read our reviews of ESA clinics. 

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Health and News

Top 17 Recommended Emotional Support Dog Breeds

 

Nothing compares to the warmth you get from cuddling with your pet dog. It’s interesting to know that the warmth spread in your body is due to the love of hormones (Oxytocin) released in the body. Cuddling your furry pet results in the production of Oxytocin in your brain. It builds empathy and trust between you and the dog.

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Dogs are right for your physical and mental health, and owning one implies that you’ll have a loyal companion for a lifetime. Most dog owners have been reported to generally have a positive outlook. 

Why Do You Need An Emotional Support Dog?

For anyone who feels like they’re losing their grip on reality, and even mundane tasks are becoming hard to perform due to mental illness like depression, an emotional support dog could be an ideal remedy. An emotional support dog can help you in several ways, including:

  • They can accompany you whenever you feel alone.
  • They can help to alleviate depression symptoms. 
  • They can reduce your anxiety. 
  • They can help to reduce PTSD symptoms significantly. 
  • They can encourage you to engage more in physical activities and be social. 
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Serve You as an Emotional Support Animal

Here’s a compiled list of the best 17 dogs that offer emotional support.

1. Golden Retriever

Over the years, many individuals have picked Golden Retrievers to be the best option for being emotional support dogs. Golden Retrievers are the top choice dogs for emotional support due to their endearing nature. These dogs can quickly detect distressing signals in their owners, and they are friendly with everyone.

Golden Retrievers are among the most sought after emotional support dog breeds in the United States. These dogs make excellent family pets, and they understand how to act around adults and children. They are compassionate and will recognize even a slight change in your mood. 

Lifespan: 10 – 12 years

Size: 21 – 24 inches

Weight: 55 – 75 pounds

Great For: All mental health problems.

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Fun Facts:

Golden Retrievers are very smart, loyal, and affectionate. They are loving and devoted. Hanging out with them can be fun. Would you need other friends if you have this beautiful furry companion by your side? They are very patient, making them perfectly suitable for homes with kids. They are outgoing and intelligent. They are naturally athletic, agile, and they hardly bark excessively. You also need to note that these dogs are great at sniffing, so be ready to make a few stops on the way.  

2. Labrador Retrievers

If you need an emotional support dog for great companionship, not only are these dogs friendly, they are very observant too. Labrador Retrievers are bred to be excellent companions, and they support their owners going through emotional or mental disorders. 

These dogs are of 3 different color varieties: chocolate, yellow, and black. They are straightforward to groom due to their short hair. These dogs are highly affectionate and friendly with members of their home. They’ll quickly become members of your family. They can help you perform a few easy tasks like closing doors, opening doors, or fetching things. 

Life Span: 10 – 12 years 

Size: 21 – 24 inches

Weight: 55 – 80 pounds

Great For: All mental health problems, especially Autism, ADD, or Schizophrenia.

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Fun Facts:

Labradors are smart, sweet, and gentle. These features make them one of the USA’s most popular dog breeds. They make excellent family dogs due to their adaptability, plus the added advantage of being comfortable in almost all situations and places. They enjoy eating a lot, so ensure not to overfeed your pet. They can efficiently perform physically demanding tasks like closing doors, opening doors, or fetching a bottle. You must be ready to dedicate a minimum of thirty minutes to outdoor activities with this pet every day. 

3. Collie

The Collie is a native Scotland dog breed. These dogs are well known as herding dogs, which implies that they have a natural ability to look out for any member of their ‘herd’—that’s why they make wonderful companions at home. This dog breed can foresee and sense behavioral changes with ease due to their performance in herding livestock, so they will ensure their distressed owner or family member receives care. However, Collie do not need any form of physical exercise, which is a great way to get their owner active and healthy. 

Collies display high levels of emotional loyalty to their owners. Their most remarkable talent is their instinct to foresee their owner’s needs and act accordingly. They’re also great at returning affection and love tenfold. They are kind and sensitive companions. 

Life Span: 10 – 14 years 

Size: 22 – 26 inches

Weight: 50 – 70 pounds 

Great For: All mental health problems, especially anxiety and depression. 

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Fun Facts:

Collies are quiet and loving pets. They only bark excessively when there’s a reason to. Ensure not to leave them alone for too long as they don’t like being alone; else, they will get anxious and bark a lot. Due to their loving personality, Collies quickly get along with young children and are mostly considered family dogs. The dog breed’s most prominent traits are loyalty and devotion. You can hang out with them and take them anywhere since they enjoy playing and socializing. Before getting one of these dogs, ensure to get top quality grooming supplies as Collies aren’t easy to groom, and they usually need more attention when it comes to grooming. 

4. German Shepherd

German Shepherds are quite attentive, and they make the ideal emotional support dog because of their ability to make people feel loved and their attentiveness. This is a dog breed that is glad to be working. Hence, by properly training your German Shepherd, you’ll be building a responsible emotional support pet. They also respond excellently to different kinds of difficult situations. 

These dogs can adapt to all types of environments. They’re extremely loyal to their owner and can be trained to perform any kind of work. They are very active and require regular exercise to remain in good shape. They are very protective, loving, and calm; you won’t regret picking them as your favorite emotional support pet. 

Emotional Support Dogs
ESA Dogs in the US

Life Span: 10 – 14 years 

Size: 2 – 3 feet

Weight: 70 – 90 pounds 

Great For: All mental health conditions, especially anxiety, stress, and depression.

Fun Facts:

German Shepherds are one of the most lovable and loyal dog breeds you’ll find. They are very affectionate and incredibly calm. They are also fearless companions and have the ability to protect their owners. They can learn new things quickly due to their intelligence. If you love training dogs, then German Shepherds are the right breed for you as they make training much fun. They are very social and love to socialize with both children and adults. They are compassionate and can quickly figure out when their owner isn’t in a happy state. 

5. Yorkshire Terrier

Don’t be deceived by their size, as Yorkies have a huge personality. Despite their small size, these dogs are highly affectionate and will require plenty of affection, though they reciprocate by showering their owners with even more loyalty and love. Yorkshire Terriers are excellent travel companions due to their great adaptability to different situations and new environments. These cute little dogs are tender and will always seek ways to keep their owners happy. 

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Yorkshire Terriers, also known as Yorkies, are mostly considered toy dog breeds. These dogs are feisty and devoted. They are ideal for individuals who live in small apartments. They make excellent mental health companions due to their sensitive nature. 

Life Span: 12 – 15 years

Size: 8 – 9 inches

Weight: 4 – 6 pounds

Great For: All mental conditions, especially bipolar disorder and depression.

Fun Facts:

Yorkshire Terriers can go anywhere with you due to their compact size. They are friendly, manageable, and affectionate. They are compassionate and suspicious of strange environments and strangers. Be ready to hear their little growls during any casual stroll with them. They usually bark to alarm their family members. They demand constant attention and are needy. They can be very possessive of you and will not tolerate new animals around their house. Hence, before introducing a new pet, ensure to give your Yorkshire Terrier enough time to adjust. These dogs also require plenty of playtimes as they are full of energy. 

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6. Corgi

While this dog breed is often considered the Royal Queen’s favorite, the Corgi is among the most affectionate breeds. Everyone loves them due to their ability to get along with adults and children quickly. Though these dogs need a lot of physical and mental exertion from their owner, they’re a valuable breed. These dogs are gentle, intelligent, and friendly with individuals of all ages, and that’s why they are a good emotional support dog. 

Life Span: 12 – 14 years

Size: 10 – 12 inches

Weight: 25 – 30 pounds

Great For: All mental health conditions. 

Fun Facts:

These small animals will add color to your life by bouncing off the walls. They are very vocal and will bark at any time and anything. Corgis are very energetic and will also emit energetic, strong vibes your way. They are intelligent, loving, and happy. They can easily sense any imminent danger around their owners and bark to alert them. They are not really social, but if their owner trains them and introduces them to people, they’ll learn to be social. Corgis can get excited by anything, like seeing new places or seeing themselves in a mirror.

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7. American Staffordshire Terrier

American Staffordshire Terriers are exceptionally playful, affectionate, and loyal to their owner. Although they have a bad reputation and press, these gentle giants are what they are: gentle giants. With a good upbringing and training, American Staffordshire Terriers can become great emotional support dogs. These dogs are highly recommended as emotional support dogs. 

Life Span: 10 – 15 years

Size: 16 – 19 inches

Weight: 40 – 60 pounds

Great For: All mental health conditions. 

 

Fun Facts:

American Staffordshire Terriers are very gentle and loyal to their keepers. Their most outstanding characteristic is that they’re courageous and won’t back down in challenging situations. However, you need to note that they are very playful and love to play with their keepers. You need to train them nicely to behave properly in public places. These dogs are amiable and quickly get along with adults and children. They don’t require too much grooming, so you have less worry about them. 

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ESA Dog and Mental Health

8. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

These dogs look like huggable toys. They are great at cuddling and can engage their owners in several kinds of playtimes. These cute dogs have a similar appearance to a small stuffed toy, though for adults. They enjoy cuddling, making them the ideal companion for anyone who feels like getting a hug from someone. 

These Cavalier King Charles Spaniels enjoy being cuddled mostly by their owners. Getting a belly rub gives them the most excellent satisfaction all day long. They also make great hunting dogs. They’re very vigilant and sensitive and will usually look out for their owner, especially when they notice something odd about them. If the dog senses that its owner isn’t feeling happy, it will gladly display some silly acts to entertain them. 

Life Span: 9 –15 years

Size: 12– 13 inches

Weight: 13 – 18 pounds

Great For: All mental conditions, especially for PTSD.

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Fun Facts:

These dogs are great lap dogs. They can hardly get enough love or petting. They always want attention, cuddling, and petting. They are brilliant and ready for any adventure with you. They are also highly dependent and will never need your company. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are highly social and will allow anyone to pet them. You can take your pet anywhere and introduce it to new people without any fear of annoying them. They are straightforward to take care of and groom. 

9. Chihuahua

Although they are a bit feisty, Chihuahuas are very friendly and attentive. They will make you feel wanted due to their constant cravings for attention. They come in different kinds of colors and coat types. These small dogs are full of energy, though you can train them to respond rightly to commands with the right upbringing. 

Their vibrant and fun personality make these dogs ideal for cuddling and playing with and will offer much help to you, both mentally and emotionally. Thus, it’s another great choice for an emotional support dog. 

Life Span: 10 – 18 years

Size: 6 – 9 inches

Weight: 3 – 6 pounds

Great For: All mental health conditions.

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Fun Facts:

You might have seen so much of Chihuahuas in movies to want one immediately as your emotional support dog. These dogs are fun-loving and love to be as close to you as possible, every time. They are tiny and can fit easily in your tote bag. If you’re looking to buy a Chihuahua, you can also get sturdy bags to carry them around. These little creatures are brilliant, curious, and fast learners. They will explore every corner of your home and keep a vigilant eye on every new person they come across. Due to their size, Chihuahuas are not suitable for families with young children. You don’t want your little kids stepping on them. They don’t require too much exercise and grooming.

 

10. Irish Wolfhound

This dog breed is naturally sensitive, which implies that it can quickly recognize even a slight change in its owner’s health or behavior. It has a natural ability to protect, making it valuable for those who need an emotional support dog. But you need to note that these dogs can’t live for more than eight years, which may be challenging for those who become attached too quickly. 

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Irish Wolfhounds can quickly get along with other pets in your home. However, some can be aggressive or dominant towards other dogs (same-sex). They have instincts to pursue cats and any fleeing creature. 

Life Span: 6 – 8 years

Size: 30 – 32 inches

Weight: 115 – 180 pounds

Great For: All mental health conditions. 

Amazing Facts:

Irish Wolfhounds are a large dog breed and require a large space. Hence, they are not suitable for those who stay in small apartments. Their furry body and cute face will melt your heart. They require a minimum of 50 minutes for exercising every day, so you need to be ready for a great time outdoors. They are loving, gentle, and kind to strangers and their owners. They enjoy chasing cars and other animals. It is important to have a tight grip on your Irish Wolfhound’s leash when you go out together for a walk to avoid losing them. If you love clingy dogs a lot, then you’ll enjoy having an Irish Wolfhound as they love being in their owner’s company. They also don’t howl or bark excessively.

11. Boxer

These dogs are sometimes called the Peter Pan of dogs. They attain full maturity after three years of age. Boxers are among the most desirable dogs for those who need an emotional support dog. 

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Boxers enjoy the company of their owners. They can act silly and will often entertain you with these silly antics. They crave a lot for human attention. After long hours of playtime that seems exhausting to you, these dogs will remain energetic. Hence, if you decide to get one of these dogs, be ready to invest several playtime hours. 

Life Span: 10 – 12 years

Height: 21 – 25 inches at shoulder level

Weight: 60 – 70 pounds

Great For: All mental health conditions, primarily Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). 

Amazing Facts:

If you don’t have any experience of keeping a dog, do not fret about it. Boxers are suitable for novice owners. These dogs are children-friendly, making them a great choice for families with children. They are straightforward to groom and full of energy. They require plenty of playtime and exercise. They can understand commands very quickly due to their high level of intelligence. They are also kind and loyal to their owners. In no time, your Boxer can become used to your behavior patterns and moods and easily sense a change afterward.

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12. Poodles

Poodles are loaded with cleverness and elegance. They are very proud, though they have a very soft, loving heart. They are very friendly and social, and they enjoy playing and cuddling with their owners. Poodles are a great emotional support dog breed due to these interesting qualities. They are charming and playful, and they enjoy a great play session. They want a hearty walk and a fetching game. Furthermore, they also like cuddling sessions, which makes them excellent emotional support dogs.

Life Span: 10 – 15 years

Size: 20 – 22 inches

Weight: 50 – 60 pounds

Great For: All mental health conditions, especially bipolar disorder, and anxiety.

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Amazing Facts:

If you enjoy playing, rest assured that these dogs enjoy playing more. They are straightforward to train and will adapt very quickly to your needs. They are obedient and will always act composed (very gentle and willing) in public. Poodles are loyal and devoted to their families. These dogs are suitable for individuals with allergies as they don’t shed their coats. If you leave them for too long, they tend to become lonely; hence, they require constant attention and love. Poodles love walking dignified as they are a proud dog breed.

13. Pug

The Pug is an ancient dog breed with a history that dates back to 2000 years. In Latin, the word Pug means ‘fist.’ These dogs are popularly known to have comical features, with their face looking like a human fist. They are loving and very playful. They enjoy spending quality time with their family members while cuddling and playing with them. This small dog breed is well-known as a clown among dogs due to their high sense of humor and ability to entertain people. 

Pugs are also highly intelligent. They are very sensitive to your feelings. They can tell when you’re not happy and will try to cheer you up with their playfulness. Pugs are also highly emotional and affectionate companions. These excellent qualities make them wonderful emotional support dogs.

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Life Span: 13 – 15 years 

Size: 12 – 14 inches

Weight: 14 – 18 pounds 

Great For: All mental health conditions, especially anxiety, stress, and depression. 

Amazing Facts:

Pugs are very kind and will instantly connect with their owners, making them great emotional support dogs. They’re well-known to be loud snorers, so every Pug owner looks forward to waking to their loud snoring sound. They can’t adapt to warm temperatures, and they demand constant attention. They will follow you around your house at all times. They might become sad if they don’t get your attention and love. They enjoy having fun and playing outdoors with their family members. However, you need to note that they can be mischievous and don’t like being left alone while you’re out all day. 

14. French Bulldog

French Bulldogs are bat-eared dogs with a strange appeal. Although they are short, they have a muscular body. They are very loyal and affectionate and also very smart. These amazing qualities make them excellent emotional support dogs. The cute dog breed is very gentle and lovable. They always enjoy playing with their owner and cuddling up to them. 

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These dogs make great travel companions because of their small size. French Bulldogs can adapt well to both adults and children. They enjoy training sessions, which makes them very easy to train. For them, training sessions mean they’ll have more time with you. These lovable dogs make excellent emotional support dogs. They are ideal for individuals who stay in small apartments. 

Life Span: 10 – 15 years

Size: 10 – 12 inches

Weight: 15 – 30 pounds 

Great For: All mental health conditions. 

Amazing Facts:

French Bulldogs love to have fun and play with their owners. They won’t give in until they see you put a smile on your face. They are straightforward to train; you only need to make their training sessions look like playing sessions. These dogs are very stubborn by nature—you can hardly change their mind once they decide to refuse something. They can quickly get along with strangers and children. You can consider getting a French Bulldog if you stay in a small apartment. They’re not too demanding and don’t need extra grooming sessions.

15. Pomsky

The Pomsky dog breed is a hybrid cross between the Siberian Husky and the Pomeranian. Most people consider it a hybrid or designer dog breed since it’s bred through artificial insemination. Pomskies are suitable for novice dog owners, and they adapt well to new families.

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They are also ideal for individuals who stay in small apartments. They enjoy being the center of attraction and can do almost anything to keep every eye on them. They crave their owner’s love and enjoy being cuddled all the time. Pomsky makes an excellent emotional support dog due to its quick ability to get attached to its owner.

Life Span: 12 – 15 years 

Size: 10 – 15 inches

Weight: 15 – 25 pounds

Great For: All mental health conditions.

Amazing Facts:

Pomsky is very suitable for those who live in cold regions. These dogs can withstand the cold weather in any of such regions. They are incredibly flexible due to their ability to adjust correctly in warm weather conditions. They are straightforward to train and are sensitive to their owner’s feelings and behavioral patterns. Although they are very playful, Pomskies are relatively easy to take care of and groom. However, you need to note that the grooming sessions can consume plenty of time. They enjoy giving hugs and regularly ensure their owners know how they feel about them.

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16. Husky 

Huskies are a sled dog breed mostly common in the polar regions. They are very energetic, friendly, and loyal to their owners. They are great charmers, and you will hardly ever get tired of stroking your Husky’s fur. It makes an excellent emotional support dog breed because it will abandon all its activities and cuddle with its owner until it has accomplished its task whenever it senses that its owner isn’t happy. 

Life Span: 10 – 15 years

Size: 30 – 40 inches

Weight: 50 – 60 pounds

Great For: All mental health conditions, especially bipolar disorder, and anxiety. 

Amazing Facts:

This dog breed is a ray of sunshine for individuals who are sinking in their sorrows. You’ll hardly have a dull moment when your Husky is around. They become a source of contentment to their owners and bring joy into their lives. While they may need thorough brushing, taking care of them is still manageable as they are undemanding. Besides this cuddly breed being great emotional support dogs, they are also excellent guard dogs who do their best to protect their owners from harm.

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17. Samoyed   

Samoyeds are a ‘beauty with brains’ dog breed due to their white, thick, double-layer coats. They are highly strong-willed and are very loyal to their families. They enjoy hanging around with their owners all the time, and they’re good dogs for movie producers. They have a captivating smile, also popularly called ‘Sammy Smile.’ Samoyeds are good-natured and always happy. They have a dignified walking step, knowing that they are smart and intelligent. Their beautiful thick coats are ideal for cold weather.

Life Span: 10 – 15 years

Size: 20 – 30 inches

Weight: 40 – 60 pounds 

Great For: All mental health conditions, especially bipolar disorder, and anxiety. 

Amazing Facts:

Samoyeds are mostly considered family dogs due to their ability to get along with every family member in no time. They are great companions for children and other animals. Grooming them is not easy; their luscious fur requires several brushing minutes before it will look shiny and sleek. These dogs are vocal and will keep changing their tone and pitch to let you know the things they dislike or like. They can serve as diligent watchdogs due to their ability to bark. They’ll bark whenever they see something new approaching their territory. Samoyeds are excellent hunters and will constantly run after anything that shows up in a park.

How Can You Get an Emotional Support Dog?

Having gone through this comprehensive list, you are probably spurred on and can’t wait to have an emotional support dog fill your life with joy and love. Emotional dogs’ role is simple—they come into your life to lift you from depression and help you deal with every mental disorder. 

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Here’s a guide on how to get an emotional support dog with an Emotional Support Animal Letter. 

#1. Look for an LMHP (Licensed Medical Health Professional) 

Here are some tips to help you find the right mental health professional:

  • Use the Internet to check online for the top therapists close to you. 
  • Check the websites of several therapists and go through their profiles. 
  • Check out customer testimonials and reviews for different therapists to improve your knowledge of what to expect. 
  • Seek recommendations from friends and family members on the best therapist. 

#2. Make an appointment

Face-to-face consultations

If you prefer a conventional way of doing things, you can go to the nearest doctor or therapist. The most appreciable advantage of having a face-to-face consultation is the bond you’ll develop with your therapist or doctor. It helps them to understand your mental and emotional state better.

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Online consultations

Is there anything you can’t find online these days? Online consultation is highly convenient for those who may not feel comfortable sharing personal problems like mental issues with a therapist or doctor in person. Having an online consultation will help to save energy and time. 

Search online for the best LMHP (Licensed Medical Health Professional) that is authorized to sign and write emotional support letters around your location. Book an online appointment with them.

#3. Explain Why You Need An Emotional Support Dog

Your primary purpose of meeting with an LMHP (Licensed Medical Health Professional) is to help you evaluate your current mental and emotional state. Ensure to open up on your emotions and feelings. 

Therapists are trained to maintain confidentiality and not disclose any of your details to any other person. So, be free to share even the smallest details. Here are some of the essential details you need to disclose during the sessions:

  • Talk about your family, friends, and routine. 
  • Tell them about any medication you are currently using or were previously prescribed. 
  • Discuss your mental and emotional disabilities. 
  • Explain that you require someone going back in memory lane and remembering things that may trigger stress, depression, or anxiety.
  • Tell your therapist why you feel that getting an emotional support dog will help steer your life towards the recovery route. 
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ESA Pet Helps with Depression

#4. Adopt a Dog or Register Your Dog 

If you have a dog, simply register it as an emotional support dog and apply for an Emotional Support Animal Letter so you can enjoy every privilege that is unknown to other average home pets. On the other hand, if you don’t have a dog yet, you can choose to adopt one from any adoption center, shelter, or rescue center around you.

There’s only one way to get your dog registered as an emotional support dog; by applying for the ESA (Emotional Support Animal) letter and having it signed and approved by an LMHP (Licensed Medical Health Professional). Avoid any website that claims anything otherwise. 

#5. Apply for an ESA (Emotional Support Animal Letter) 

The final step is applying an ESA (Emotional Support Animal) letter. Using an ESA letter for your preferred dog pet isn’t as hard as you think. You can use this letter in two different ways:

Ask your doctor or therapist to write you an Emotional Support Animal Letter. Your therapist should be able to write and sign the ESA letter for your pet dog if they are an LMHP (Licensed Medical Health Professional). 

The other option involves looking for a trustworthy and legit website that provides approved and signed Emotional Support Animal (ESA) letters. Once you find a legit website, they will send a form to you to fill. You will need to fill in your important information in the state.

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Conclusion   

Dogs are energetic, empathetic, and loyal by nature. They tend to add color and beauty to colorless lives. Emotional support dogs have the ability to bring joy to people’s lives and improve their physical and mental health. These dogs can help lift your spirits and help you come out of a sinking state. They’ll steer you to normalcy. 

Remember that emotional support dogs need every attention and love they can get from you. Like every other living thing, they require healthy diets and occasionally need to step outdoors. Provide a loving home and ensure to take proper care of them. As long as your emotional support dog is physically and mentally fit, they will keep you calm and happy at all times. 

After selecting your preferred emotional support dog, ensure to get an Emotional Support Animal letter as soon as possible because only then will you and the dog be granted to enjoy the privileges that other pets cannot. As soon as you get a legit and approved ESA letter, you and your dog can travel together and dwell in any rental without incurring any additional charges.

Ensure to go through this list of the top 17 loving dogs that are most recommended as emotional support dogs. We have done our best to cover all you’ll need to get the best emotional support dog for yourself to keep you happy, lively and improve your emotional, mental, and even physical health. 

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Emotional Support Animal

A Look At Emotional Support Animal Letter Sample

 

Many studies have been conducted on the role of pets in the lives of their owners or handlers.  For instance, from research published in the BMC Psychiatry journal, pets play an important therapeutic role when it comes to the mental health of their owners. But the extent, nature, and quality of emotional support provided by these animals may differ.

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Are you worried that you would have to leave your pet behind when you travel? Well, according to the law, emotional support animals, ESAs, are not house pets. You can travel or stay with them wherever you are. However, to unlock these benefits, you would need an emotional support animal letter.

Once the connection develops between the pet and the owner, then the subject starts to experience comfort, fewer effects of anxiety, and in some cases, quicker recovery. An emotional support animal can even help lower your stress levels, blood pressure` and also help you cope with a history of emotional trauma.

What Is an ESA letter?

An emotional support animal letter is a document that shows you have an ESA ‘prescription’. It should, therefore, be signed by a licensed mental health professional.

This letter also approves of the need of a subject to have a pet after being diagnosed with a mental health disorder. In the letter, you can find the reason why the person bearing it needs an ESA to live a full life or minimize some of the symptoms of a mental health condition.

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How Does the ESA Letter Help?

Some landlords designate their residential properties as ‘pet-free’. However, with an emotional animal support letter, you can live with your pet, as the law demands these landlords accommodate your ESA. Also, the letter allows you to travel with your pet in the passenger’s cabin.

And the good news is that the ESA handler does not have to pay extra fees for the airlines or housing access.

What Does an ESA Letter Need to Say?

As previously stated, the ESA letter needs to come from a licensed mental health professional. Once they diagnose an individual’s mental health condition, they can then recommend an emotional support animal.  And at first glance, you can tell what the letter addresses.

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How Do You Spot a Fake ESA Letter?

The letter should include the following:

  1. A date, not later than one year of submission
  2. Your therapist’s official letterhead
  3. The therapist’s license number, date, and the direct contact information for your therapist

Remember that a certificate of ownership may not be sufficient when you do not have an ESA letter.

An Emotional Support Animal Letter Sample

It is very easy to fall into the trap of con men pretending to offer these letters. However, if you have a rough idea of how the letter looks like, you have a better chance of avoiding a scam.

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And an emotional support animal letter sample is provided below:

 

Licensed Mental Health Professional’s Letterhead

Date

Doctor (or LMHP) Name

Address

To Whom It May Concern;

I am a licensed mental health professional and (YOUR NAME) is my patient, and is, and has been under my professional care since (DATE). I am familiar with the mental-related issues that (the patient’s first name) is facing. And since they limit him/her in coping with what is considered normal, I have prescribed an emotional support animal in (patient’s first name)’s life. The emotional support animal provides relief that is not available in traditional medication.

According to the DSM-V of the Diagnostics and the Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders, (YOUR NAME) exhibits mental health challenges that fit the criteria for Americans Living with Disability (ADA). Therefore, he/she qualifies for an emotional support animal. Please allow (YOUR NAME) to be accompanied by his/her emotional support animal in the passenger cabin in the aircraft, in accordance with the Air Carrier Access Act (49 USC 41705 and 14 CFR 382) and in the apartment, according to the Fair Housing Act (FHA).

If you have any further questions, contact me at (email address of the LMHP)

Animal:

Animal Name:

Certification ID number:

Issue Date:

Expiration Date:

Sincerely

Signature of the Professional

Name of the Professional

Licensed by the state of (STATE)

License Type:

License Number:

Date of Issuance:

Expiration Date:

How Do You Spot a Fake ESA Letter?

You can get an emotional support animal letter online. However, many websites are using this opportunity to publish false advertisements. They promise lower prices, only for you to find out that the letter is fake.

The good news is that you can easily distinguish a real and valid letter from a fake one. All you need to do is to follow the steps outlined below to avoid a scam.

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Mental Health Benefits of ESA Pets

1. Research

Doing a little bit of research on the doctor, website, or clinic offering their services online could go a long way in saving you from a scam. Check whether the medical health professionals have the appropriate and valid license.

2. Check the license

Finding out whether someone is licensed to write you an ESA letter is simple. For instance, The Talk Space Voice has given guidelines on how to verify the license of your therapist.

3. Check their Credentials

A legitimate emotional support animal letter contains some necessary credentials that are absent in a fake letter. These details include:

  • The official letterhead
  • Type of emotional support animal
  • Name of the animal
  • Certificate ID number of the animal to be registered.

4. Payment Method

Ever visited a website and a red alert showed you that the website was insecure? Well, this is a helpful tool when it comes to determining the safety of the payment method used by these service providers. When you visit a professional’s payment website:

  • The address link should have an ‘HTTP’ address with a padlock on it
  • The word ‘Secure’ shows that the link is safe
  • The padlock should be green in color to prove it is safe for an online payment

If the payment profile fails to meet any of the three conditions mentioned above, it is unsafe and could be a fraudulent website.

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Laws That Protect Emotional Support Animal Owners

Two laws protect the owners of emotional support animals with their landlords and airlines. These laws are the Fair Housing Act(FHA) and the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA).

1. Fair Housing Act

Under this act, landlords must provide reasonable accommodations to tenants who own emotional support animals. And according to this law, ESAs are not ordinary pets. Therefore, even buildings with ‘NO PET’ policy must comply with the US Department of Housing’s guidelines to accommodate ESA owners.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits landlords from discriminating against tenants who need emotional support animals in their lives. Also, the law states that no extra charges should be imposed on the tenants owning ESAs.

2. Air Carrier Access Act

Under the ACAA, owners of emotional support animals can travel with their pets in the passenger’s cabin at no extra cost. The ACA Act grants people living with a disability the right to travel in the company of their emotional support animals.

Once you provide the airline personnel with necessary documents proving why you need emotional support or psychiatric service animal, then you can travel with your ESA in your cabin for no extra fees. The ACAA prohibits airline operators from discriminating against passengers with mental or physical health challenges.

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Benefits of Shopping With Your ESA

Benefits of Getting an Emotional Support Animal Letter

Mental health challenges are as tough as they come. And mostly, patients have to endure the pain, stress, depression, anxiety, and PTSD that come with these health problems.

If getting an emotional support animal can help you calm your thoughts and cope with the symptoms, then you should get yourself an emotional support animal letter from a licensed mental health professional. Some of the benefits you can enjoy from getting the letter include:

1. Better traveling experience

Your emotional support animal letter allows you to board airplanes and travel with your pet in your cabin for no extra cost. As stipulated in the Air Carrier Access Act, you should call the airline company you plan to travel with at least 48 hours beforehand to inform them of your situation.

At the airport, you should also provide the airline authorities with legal documents approving your ownership of the ESA. Some of these documents include:

  • US Department of Transportation Service Animal Air Transportation Health Form
  • A US Department of Transportation Service Animal Relief Attestation
  • US Department of Transportation Service Animals Air Transport Behavior and Training Attestation Form
  • Medical professional’s authorization containing their license number, the signature, the date, type of mental health professional license they hold, and the state or jurisdiction in which they operate

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2. Rent a house freely

According to the FHA, any person holding an emotional support animal letter should not have to pay extra to stay with a pet. Therefore, you can choose the housing of your choice without any fear of discrimination.

And if the house has a No-Pet policy, the landlord should arrange to accommodate your emotional support animal.  However, you need to show your letter of recommendation from a licensed mental health professional to the apartment management.

3. Have a better shopping experience

Many supermarkets prohibit pets in their stores. However, an emotional support animal is no ordinary pet. And once you have a letter showing why you need the ESA, you can say goodbye to the anxiety and panic that stops you from shopping in your favorite store.

The emotional support animal helps you cope with your fears in these public outlets, making your shopping experience better. And although the law states no discrimination whatsoever, it is always good to call ahead and ask for approval from the owners before taking your pet along.

4. No more loneliness

People struggling with mental health conditions find it hard to create personal connections. Whether it’s due to anxiety, depression, or panic attacks, you could end up feeling lonely. And when you have to be in a public space, the symptoms could worsen.

However, by acquiring an emotional support animal letter from your legally registered and licensed therapist, you can say goodbye to the loneliness.

The letter allows you to go anywhere with your emotional support animals, which are great companions.

5. A healthy mind

Feeling alone and not being able to cope with the symptom of a mental health disorder can be dangerous for the mind.

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However, with research proving the impact of pets on these patients, an emotional support animal could be the light in the dark for stressed and depressed people.

Once you have an ESA in your treatment plan, you can better manage your symptoms, which gives you a sense of control over your mental health.

They give you support, comfort, and intimacy, which promote a more active, healthier, and productive life. And at the end of it all, you get a healthier mind free from all the burden of depression, anxiety, and stress.

The Takeaway

An emotional support animal is a type of assistance animal deemed necessary for people facing a mental or physical disability. And according to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, under the federal Fair Housing Act, the emotional support animal is no ordinary pet.

The government, through the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Department of Transportation, has put in place laws to help protect these people from discrimination.

However, to gain access to these privileges, you need to show that you are authorized to own an ESA.

Any legally licensed mental health professional can provide you with an emotional support animal letter.

But, with the internet availing access to people of all kinds, it is possible to fall into a trap. You find people pretending to be licensed professionals offering these letters at lower prices. Take a cautious approach to such websites and do some research to avoid a scam.

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Learn to spot the differences between a legit and fake ESA letter. As shown in the emotional support animal letter sample provided in this piece, make sure you can quickly tell the license number, type of license, the issuance and expiry dates of the license, the professional’s letterhead, and the ID number of the ESA to be registered.

Remember to check the safety of the website before filling in your details. Finally, an ESA letter only lasts for a year. Remember to renew your letter to avoid inconveniences at your residency or the airport. 

Hopefully, you got a good look at the Emotional Support Animal Letter Sample, now read reviews of authentic ESA Letter providers and make the best choice.

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Emotional Support Animal Emotional support dogs ESA ESA and mental health ESA Reviews

Top ESA Small Dogs That Don’t Shed

 

Over the years, there has been a notable increase in dogs’ use as Emotional Support Animals. Their ability to alleviate anxiety and to bring joy are the reasons why physicians are recommending them as therapy animals. Whether you are in a hospital, school, or going through a stressful situation, a dog will comfort and cheer you up.

Indeed, almost all canines can offer you emotional support. Even so, some dogs are more suitable for therapeutic purposes compared to others. Small furry companions are considered the best ESA options because they are easy to lift and travel with them.

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Importance of Small Dogs That Don’t Shed

While having a furry companion comes with many mental health benefits, a canine that sheds might not be fun. If you are allergic to fur or hate finding hair on your clothes, furniture, or beddings, a shed-free pooch is the best option. Pups that don’t shed are easy to groom at a budget-friendly fee. Therefore, they are able to address your therapy needs without triggering allergic reactions.

How Can Small Dogs That Don’t Shed Qualify for ESA?

A small shed-free pup should possess the following qualities of an ESA:

  • The dog should be friendly to people.
  • It should not be unruly.
  • Should not have problems adapting to new environments
  • The pet should be trained.
Small Dogs that don't shed
ESA Dogs that don’t shed

What Are the Best Breeds for Small Dogs that Don’t Shed?

If you experience dog allergies and need a shed-free therapy canine friend, worry not. There are many hypoallergenic small dog breeds from which you can choose the best. Read on to learn more about non-shedding dogs to suit your therapy needs.

  • Maltese Terrier

This is one of the most adorable small dog breeds that don’t shed preferred by many pet lovers. Their playful and sprightful nature will make you feel loved and calm your nerves during overwhelming moments. If you love running your fingers on your canine’s body, you will love their adorable silky white coat. 

  • Chinese Crested

These dogs are available in two varieties; powder-puff and hairless. They are hypoallergenic and have minimal grooming needs. Chinese Crested dogs will typically sweep you off your feet with their affectionate and loving companionship.  They are usually alert and are lively to have around.

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  • Brussels Griffon

Dogs of this breed are friendly and shower you with love and give you a sense of security. If you have a small backyard or live in an apartment, Brussel Griffon will serve you right. They are naturally active, and they enjoy spending time with their owners. They are also shed-free, and their presence will not irritate your allergies or mess-up your things with fur.

  • Bichon Frise

Bichon Frise is a playful hypoallergenic canine capable of cheering you up and lessen your anxiety. They are affectionate and will keep you company round the clock. Bichon Frise is the best option if you prefer dogs that don’t bark at everyone they encounter. They are outgoing and typically greet every human being they see. 

  • Shih Tzu

If you are looking for a loyal emotional support pet, look no further than Shih Tzu. Besides being non-shedding dogs, Shih Tzus are friendly and enjoy getting cozy with humans. It yearns for personal attention and enjoys people’s company. Regardless of your age or physical limitation, Shih Tzu will provide you with 24/7 comfort.

  • Yorkshire Terrier

Despite their small sizes, Yorkshires have remarkable confidence and are full of energy. They are loving and require a lot of attention from their owners. Yorkshire dogs are loyal and affectionate, and they are essential in providing emotional therapy. Their gorgeous coats are shed-free and require minimal grooming.

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  • Havanese

The Havanese is an intelligent and friendly dog that bonds well with people of all ages. They are active and require little or no effort to train. You can never get bored with the Havanese because they are playful and love discovering new tricks. Their fine silk coat does not shed and makes it perfect for cuddling.

  • Boston Terrier

Lively and affectionate, Boston enjoys the company of people regardless of age. They thrive in spending time with humans and engaging in playful activities. With an ESA endorsement, you can travel with your Boston to any destination and live anywhere with them.

  • Coton de Tulear

Their playful and affectionate nature makes them serve the role of a family pet as well as an ESA.  As the name depicts, Coton dogs have cotton-like coats that give them a stunning look. They don’t shed, and you don’t have to worry about dog allergies or to have their fur on your furniture.

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Getting a Legit ESA Letter for Small Dogs that Don’t Shed

When suffering from a mental condition, it’s easy to fall prey to fraudsters who don’t have your interest at heart. It can be devastating to realize your ESA letter is not valid after paying for the service. Below is what you should do to ensure you get a credible letter:

  • Consulting a licensed mental health physician from your state
  • A reliable doctor will do a comprehensive assessment to determine your ESA needs.
  • Confirm the status of a doctor’s practicing license from your state’s professional database
  • Going through the reviews of a licensed doctor and finding out what other patients have to say about them.

Ultimately, small shed-free dogs offer you many therapeutic benefits. Possessing an ESA letter will help you get the privileges of being allowed to have your pet even in pet-restricted places. Before applying for an ESA letter, always go through the reviews of a licensed ESA letter physician in your state.

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Emotional Support Animal

Get Answers to the 19 Most Asked Questions About ESAs!

 

Doctors unanimously agree that people suffering from various mental disorders can benefit from owning emotional support animals. ESAs help people manage psychological issues and overcome phobias like flying and socializing in crowds. 

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They are widely beneficial and rapidly increasing in popularity as people continue to realize the benefits of owning a living, breathing, and loving emotional support system. 

This guide seeks to answer the most asked questions about ESAs and clarify any misconceptions you may have about applying for and owning an emotional support animal. 

Without any more delay, let’s dive in!

1. What are Emotional Support Animals?

Emotional support animals are pets that provide companionship, affection, and comfort to people that are battling mental illnesses and psychological disorders.

They act as a buffer between people and their psychological issues and phobias. As that’s their primary role, they are not considered ordinary pets. 

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You might think, “But all pets do that; what,  what makes ESAs special?”

It is an ESA’s job to help their owner feel more optimistic about life. It’s a tough job as they are required to help people overcome past traumas and get over their greatest fears to live a happy, healthy life. 

ESAs are defined as a crutch as their owners depend on them to overcome their emotional disorders. As such, they are required to stay by their owner’s side at all times. 

If you suffer from conditions like anxiety, an ESA can help restore normalcy in your day-to-day life and life and teach you how to get over your phobias/emotional distress. In the event of a panic attack, these animals are trained to soothe their owners back to normalcy and prevent the condition from happening again or recurring too much. 

 

2. Which Animals Qualify as ESAs?

Although most people choose cats or dogs as their emotional support animal, any animals that provide you with love and comfort can qualify as an ESA. 

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Which Animals Qualify as ESAs?

Cats and dogs are popular options because of their cuteness, receptiveness, loyalty, and affectionate nature. They’re relatively easy to train and teach obedience, plus they don’t require a lot in terms of maintenance. 

Aside from cats and dogs, animals that are commonly chosen to be ESAs include:

  • Ponies (or miniature horses)
  • Rabbits
  • Monkeys
  • Rats and mice
  • Birds
  • Spiders
  • Reptiles 

You can legally choose any animal you want to be your ESA. The only caveat is that some of your options, for instance, reptiles and rodents, are not well-liked by everyone and maybe too intimidating to bring around people. 

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Furthermore, airlines are nitpicky about the type of ESAs that are allowed to board their planes. Snakes, spiders, and rodents are very unpopular around these circles because they make other passengers uncomfortable. 

Don’t pick an ESA that is going to be challenging to travel with.

 

3. How Are Emotional Support Animals Trained?

ESAs don’t need any special training. Unlike service animals, which have to provide physical support to their owners, ESAs are only supposed to offer a soothing, comforting vibe, which they do naturally without any training. 

Even though you don’t legally have to train them, it’s essential to have a well-behaved animal if you intend to go everywhere with your ESA.

A well-trained animal is easily accepted into establishments and airlines because they don’t cause disruptions to other patrons or passengers. 

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Therefore, the following basic training may be necessary for your ESA:

  • Toilet Training

Perhaps the most important skill your ESA must have is the ability to go to the bathroom in the areas designated for them. You have to potty train your beloved ESA animal to avoid embarrassing situations in restaurants or flights. 

  • Obedience Training 

You don’t need to teach him/her complex tricks, but your ESA should be able to acknowledge and follow basic commands like sit, stay, walk, come, and stand. You can achieve this through a reward training system. 

Teaching your ESA obedience means that they will listen to you in public and obey all your commands. The last thing you need is the extra anxiety that comes from handling an untrained animal in public. 

  • Social Training 

Your ESA is going to be your crutch until you overcome your emotional issues or phobias, so it’s essential that they know how to behave around people.

They shouldn’t be aggressive towards strangers or fearful of crowded places. They should be able to keep their cool and provide emotional support even when there are unlimited distractions, as is usually the case in parks and other crowded establishments.

It’s also important to teach your ESA how to stay quiet. Animals that make noise incessantly can be perceived as a nuisance, and you may not be allowed to bring them along as your ESA.

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How to Determine If You’re Eligible for an ESA?

4. Who is Eligible for an ESA?

You must remember that not everyone is eligible for an ESA. Just because you love your pet doesn’t mean you can take it to places with animal restrictions, as you will automatically qualify for an ESA letter.

You won’t be able to get an ESA letter unless you’re diagnosed with a mental disability that warrants you to have an emotional support animal at all times. 

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Before you qualify for an ESA, you must be diagnosed with one of the mental disabilities that are recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). They are:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)
  • Bi-Polar Disorder
  • Panic Attacks
  • OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder)
  • Learning Disabilities
  • PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)
  • Motor impairments
  • Chronic Stress
  • Intellectual impairments
  • Personality disorder 

To determine whether you’re eligible for an ESA, visit a licensed healthcare provider for a comprehensive diagnosis. You may be required to share your medical history and past experiences to make an accurate diagnosis.

You must also discuss how having an emotional support animal may help you lead a normal life and overcome your greatest phobias.

5. What’s an ESA Letter?

An ESA letter is the license you need to qualify your pet as an ESA. It is your permission slip to bring your ESA along when you travel or to places where pets usually aren’t allowed. 

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For an ESA letter to be legitimate, it must be signed by a licensed mental health professional. It should include:

  • An official letterhead
  • Your name and phone number
  • Your health professional’s license number, their state of jurisdiction, and the license type
  • The date of issuance
  • An official statement stating why you need an emotional support animal
  • A confirmation of your mental disability and an acknowledgment of your ESA as a therapy animal
  • A signature from a licensed mental health professional

6. What is the Difference Between ESAs and Service Animals?

Duties

Emotional support animals are very different from service animals. Service animals help their disabled owners to perform physical tasks, whereas ESAs provide psychological support and act as a coping device for people with mental illnesses. 

An ESA may be required to help their owner overcome:

  • Anxiety attacks
  • Depressive episodes
  • PTSD nightmares and flashbacks
  • Stress
  • Personality disorders

On the other hand, a service animal may be required to help its owners with:

  • Opening and closing doors
  • Sniffing out blood, human remains, illegal substances, and explosives
  • Staying alert to strangers knocking on the door or ringing the doorbell
  • Turning appliances on and off
  • Detecting chemical changes in the human body through smell, for instance, when the insulin level drops
  • Alerting people to provide aid to their owners when they suffer panic attacks
ESA vs Service Animals
Emotional Support Animal vs. Service Animals

Training

An ESA’s main job is to provide companionship and unwavering affection. As such, ESAs don’t need much formal training. Aside from the few necessary skills like doing their business in the right places and following simple commands, they don’t need to learn any special abilities. 

Service animals need to be highly trained to perform the physical tasks required of them by their owners. Their tasks include helping their owners walk, detecting slight changes in their bodies, and acting as a guide in crowded places. AnA professional must first train an animal before qualifying as a service animal.

Legal

ESAs and service animals are protected by different sets of laws. ESAs are protected by the Air Carrier Access Act (ACCA), which allows them to travel with their owners in airplanes, provided they have an ESA letter. These animals are allowed to travel alongside their owners at no extra cost. 

The Fair Housing Act (FHA), which was passed in 1968, also protects the rights of tenants with disabilities. It regards ESAs as tools that aid individuals with disabilities. The law requires that landlords and property owners must accommodate the needs of someone who requires an ESA at all times. 

Service animals are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). According to this law, which came into effect in 1990, people with disabilities must be allowed to be with their service animals at all times. The Act permits owners of service animals to access any public establishments without restrictions. 

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7. Do ESAs Require Certification, Registration, Identification Documents, and a Vest?

Your emotional support animal is not a service dog. Service dogs are required to wear a vest and carry registration, identification, and certification documents whenever they go out with their owners. The same doesn’t apply to ESAs.

The only requirement your ESA must-have whenever you leave home is the ESA letter. This letter allows you to access establishments, airlines, and services with your emotional support animal. 

There’s nothing wrong with giving your ESA a vest, registration, and ID. It may help others recognize your pet as an ESA, but they’re not necessary. 

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8. What are the Benefits of Having an Emotional Support Animal?

Pets are a generally positive influence in their owners’ lives, more so if you rely on their companionship and unconditional love to cope with mental disorders. 

As emotional support animals, pets have a number of advantages:

They Offer Companionship

Sometimes, the only remedy for a mental disability like anxiety and depression is good company. What better company could you wish for than your cuddly, playful best friend?

Being in the company of your favorite animal can elevate your mood and make you more optimistic about life. 

With an ESA letter, you can take your emotional support animal wherever you go so that you never feel alone ever again. 

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How Can ESAs Help Cope with Mental Disabilities

ESAs Offer Relief from Stress and Anxiety

That relaxing feeling you get when you hang around your pets comes from an increase in serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin, the happy hormone, cancels out cortisol, the stress hormone.

Being around your emotional support animal makes you happier and less stressed. Animals are a welcome distraction in the life of an anxious person because they remind them to get out of their head. Thus, an ESA can dramatically reduce stress and anxiety in your life. 

Taking Care of an ESA Gives a Sense of Purpose

Most mental disorders are characterized by negative thinking and rumination. However, when you have a living bundle of joy to take care of, you’ll hardly have any time to waste on negative thoughts. 

Emotional support animals need love, care, and support. They also need entertainment, so you’ll have to play with them every so often. They give purpose to your life, reminding you to live in the moment and enjoy the little things more often. 

You’re Allowed to Travel or Live with Your ESA

Airlines are bound by law to make accommodations for people with mental disabilities. With an ESA letter, you can travel with your emotional support animal for free. 

The same applies to many housing establishments. Your emotional support animal can live with you in any building you choose, even if they have a strict no-pet policy. 

As long as you can present an ESA letter to your landlord, you can live with your emotional support animal for as long as you want. 

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An ESA Can Help you Cope with Mental Disabilities.

There is a universal remedy for symptoms of depression, PTSD, OCD, and bipolar disorder, and it comes in the form of a furry bundle of joy that provides emotional support when you need it most.

Your ESA has one job—to help you cope with your mental disabilities. Fortunately, this is a job that most emotional support animals are naturally adept at. 

Why struggle to get over your phobias and mental illnesses alone when you can rely on the unconditional affection of your ESA to get you through it?

9. What are the Laws that Support and Protect ESAs and their Owners?

Some laws protect people with mental disabilities and their rights to own emotional support animals. You must be familiar with these laws.

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The Air Carrier Access Act (ACCA)

The ACCA states that anyone with a diagnosed mental disability has a right to travel with an emotional support animal of their choosing. 

The emotional support animal may travel together with them in the same cabin provided the owner presents an ESA letter that has been signed by a licensed mental health professional. 

Under the Air Carrier Access Act, ESAs can travel for free and must receive all the necessary accommodations to facilitate a comfortable trip for them and their owners. 

Depending on the type of ESA you have, you can carry them on your lap or set them in a cage next to you during the flight. If you have a big emotional support animal, say a large dog, then the airline is obliged to reserve the seat next to you for your ESA. 

You don’t have to put your ESA in a cage; there’s no law that restricts them to cages during flights. However, you can still cage your animal if you prefer to travel with them that way. 

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Laws that protect ESA

Although the ACCA obligates airlines to make the necessary accommodations for you and your ESA, you have a part to play too. Your support animal should be well-trained and well-behaved. He/she must not cause disruptions of any kind during the flight. 

Remember, the ACCA only covers emotional support animals. Household pets are not allowed to travel in the passenger cabin. Furthermore, you won’t be allowed to travel with your pet for free unless you have a letter that certifies them as an ESA. 

The Fair Housing Act (FHA)

According to the Fair Housing Act, persons with mental disabilities can reside in any building of their choosing with their emotional support animal. Introduced in 1968, the FHA protects the rights of people with mental disabilities from discriminative property laws. 

Your ESA is considered an assistive aid under the FHA, so it is as essential as a pacemaker to a person with heart problems or a hearing aid to a deaf person. 

Property owners are obligated to make arrangements to accommodate individuals and their respective emotional support animals. They must make the necessary arrangements for people with mental disabilities.

As for owners of emotional support animals, the one thing you must always have ready is your ESA letter. It must be approved and signed by a licensed mental health professional.

This letter should be presented to the landlord/caretaker of every building you wish to live in with your emotional support animal. 

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10. Is it Legal to Own More than One ESA?

Yes, you can have more than one emotional support animal if you wish to. However, with more cuddly friends comes more responsibility. 

Remember, your emotional animal is reliant on you as well. You need to feed them, keep them

clean and provide adequate exercise and entertainment. 

If taking care of one ESA feels like a tough job, then you shouldn’t be eager to own more than one at a time. 

You also have to consider your mental wellbeing. Taking on too much responsibility, even if it is in the form of affectionate, emotional support animals, could be counterintuitive. You might end up feeling more stressed than ever. 

The law allows you to keep as many emotional support animals as you want. However, here are some reasons why you should reconsider owning more than one ESA:

  • Although your landlord is obligated by law to allow you to live with your ESA, it becomes a little more complicated when there’s more than one animal involved. This is especially true in buildings with strict no-pets policies. They often worry that you may not be able to control all your pets. 
  • Owning more than one ESA can be stressful. Taking care of one animal may give you a sense of purpose, but taking care of multiple animals at a time can be overwhelming. You may end up neglecting your beloved pets or adding more strain to your already weakened mental state. 
  • Taking care of multiple ESAs requires double effort, attention, and resources. If you’re unable to do so, you might stretch yourself too thin at the expense of your mental health. 
  • Most airlines have no qualms accommodating one ESA per person. Very few of them can accept two or more ESAs per person. Having one emotional support animal will certainly make your flights less hectic. 

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11. Is it Possible to Verify the Legitimacy of the ESA Website Issuing my Letter?

Yes. Unfortunately, hundreds of people fall victim to fake websites that claim to offer ESA letters at discounted prices or for free. Many of these are run by scammers posing as licensed doctors and mental health professionals. 

It’s easy to fall victim to one of these websites if you don’t know how to verify the credibility of a website. Here are three ways you can do it:

  • Ask to See the Practitioner’s License 

Check that the mental health professional has a valid license that certifies them to recommend and issue ESA letters. Also, check that he/she can issue an ESA letter in your jurisdiction. 

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How to Verify the Credibility of a Website?
  • Ensure the ESA Letter Has the Proper Credentials 

An ESA letter must have the following credentials:

  • An official letterhead
  • A registration number
  • The type of emotional support animal
  • Check the Website’s Payment Method 

The quickest way to spot a fake website is by checking the payment page. Usually, it lacks the “https” address with a padlock, which is the key indicator that a webpage is secure.

If a website does not meet these three conditions, the chances are good that it is not legitimate. Your best course of action is to leave it immediately. 

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12. How Long Will It Take to Get my ESA Letter Application Approved?

Once you submit your application for an ESA letter, you must wait for it to be approved by a licensed mental health professional. The review process takes just a few hours, after which you will receive a digital copy of the letter. 

A hard copy of the letter will arrive in your mail within 3 to 4 working days. This is the letter that you’ll need to present before boarding airlines or entering buildings with your ESA.

If you don’t receive a hard copy of your ESA letter within four days, contact your LMHP immediately and inform them. 

13. How Often Do I Need to Renew my ESA Letter?

Getting an ESA letter will not be your final step. ESA letters are only valid for a year, so you have to renew it annually to keep your support animal by your side. 

There are two ways to renew your ESA letter. You can do it online via a legitimate emotional support website, or you can visit your therapist to get it renewed. 

Either way, you’ll need to be proactive about it if you want to avoid complications. Landlords have a right to demand to see your ESA letter every year. 

Airlines are also strict about letting passengers board with animals if their ESA letter is expired. Staying ahead of the renewal date allows you to enjoy the full privileges of owning an emotional support animal. 

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14. Who Can Legally Sign an ESA Letter?

The signature on your ESA letter must belong to a medical professional for it to be valid. You can seek a professional of your choice to sign your ESA letter, provided they’re licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.

Your ESA letter can be legally signed by a licensed therapist, general physician, or mental health professional. 

15. Can an ESA Live in College/University Housing?

As is the case with many big life changes, moving to college can be a stressful experience. If you’re dealing with poor mental health, you might need a familiar face (or snout) to help you adapt to the new environment. 

The Fair Housing Act applies not just to residential buildings but also to university housing. That includes dormitories and college-sponsored apartment buildings. 

Of course, you must make sure that your ESA letter is signed by a licensed professional and up to date. 

You should also check the rules to see where your ESA can and can’t go. While most colleges and universities permit support animals in the dormitories, they rarely extend the same leniency when it comes to classrooms and lecture halls. 

16. Can my Landlord Deny my Request to Live with an ESA?

Landlords are bound by the Fair Housing Act to provide accommodations for people with mental illnesses. 

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Places That Do Not Allow ESAs

Since an ESA is an assistive aid, your landlord cannot legally deny your request to live with your support animal. 

These are not regular pets; they’re therapy animals that provide comfort and familiarity. Even buildings with strict rules about pets cannot apply the same rules to ESAs. 

Nevertheless, a landlord may still deny your request to co-habit with an ESA. That may be the case if:

  • Your animal seems likely to cause disruptions or bother the other occupants of the building.
  • The other tenants feel like your ESA is a potential health risk. 

17. Where Am I Allowed to Bring my ESA with Me?

You might not be able to go far with your pet, but the moment you acquire a legitimate ESA letter, doors will start opening for you. 

An ESA letter is your license to carry your therapy animal wherever you go. That includes:

  • Pet-friendly establishments
  • Apartments 
  • College dorms
  • Airplanes

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Nevertheless, there are some places you won’t be able to get into even if you have an up-to-date ESA letter that has been signed by an LMHP. They include:

  • Most workplaces
  • Cinema halls
  • Grocery stores
  • Restaurants
  • Hospitals 

To be on the safe side, check and double-check the policies concerning emotional support animals before visiting a public establishment. 

Some places are not obliged by law to accommodate you and your ESA, so avoid any misunderstandings by performing due diligence before visiting public spaces with your ESA. 

18. How Do I Choose the Right ESA for my Emotional Support Needs?

If you already have a house pet that you love, then all you need is a little training and an ESA letter to convert it into an emotional support animal. 

If that’s not the case, you need to choose an emotional support animal to suit your needs. It can be difficult and time-consuming, but in the end, it’s a task that many have found worthwhile. 

Even though any pet can be your emotional support animal, you shouldn’t be hasty when making your decision.

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So, what qualities should you be on the lookout for?

  • The ESA must be a domesticated animal. Cats and dogs are popular for this reason, but so are birds like parrots and rodents like hamsters and bunnies. Although legally speaking, you can choose any animal to be your ESA, it’s wise not to settle for wild animals like tigers and snakes as they could prove problematic in the future. 
  • The animal you settle for must be easy to handle in public. It must obey your commands and stay calm even when there’s a lot going on around you. An admirable trait in an emotional support animal is restraint. 
  • You should also factor in your mental illness when deciding the type of emotional support animal to go for. Ideally, it should be an animal that brings comfort to you or helps you relax. 
  • Most people settle for a cat or a dog as an emotional support animal. These are the top choices for many because they’re easy to train, fairly good listeners, extremely affectionate, and loyal. 

Cats and dogs are also highly intuitive creatures that can sense shifts in mood and emotions. They’re also very playful and easy to get along with. 

19. How Do I Submit my ESA Letter to my Landlord or Airline?

Once you’ve received the hard copy of your ESA letter—a process that typically takes 3 to 4 days—it is up to you to submit it to the relevant parties. 

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Places That Allow ESA

You can hand it in personally, which is recommended when you’re dealing with your landlord. Most landlords are pretty accommodating. After reviewing your ESA letter, they will let you know of any concerns and discuss your arrangement in depth. 

When submitting your ESA letter to an airline, make sure you send it in at least 48 hours before your flight. Alternatively, you can call a representative to make arrangements for you and your ESA before your trip. 

It’s a lot easier and quicker if you do these things a few days in advance.

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ESAs have a positive impact on your mind

Conclusion

When asked why they love their pets, most people mention something about normalcy and routine. Pets indeed give you a sense of purpose, plus they love you unconditionally and shower you with affection regularly. 

Emotional support animals are no different. They’re better trained to provide emotional support every time you’re feeling low or dealing with a serious phobia. 

ESAs provide normalcy, comfort, and companionship and ask for nothing in return but your love and care. They are a ray of sunshine in an otherwise dark, gloomy world. 

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If you’re considering getting an emotional support animal, remember that having an ESA letter from a licensed professional is the key to enjoying your pet’s company, whether you’re traveling or visiting places that make you anxious. 

An ESA letter permits you to take your pet to places where they normally wouldn’t be allowed. Remember that a well-behaved pet is more likely to be granted access to places with strict pet policies, so invest some time training your beloved pet to become a reliable ESA. 

Keep an eye out for scammers who claim to process ESA letters faster or for lower rates—they are only after your credit card details.

Most importantly, discuss with your doctor the type of emotional support animal that would best suit your condition. An ESA can only be deemed effective if it improves the quality of your life and helps you overcome your deepest phobias.

An emotional support animal can help you break from the chains of depression, anxiety, OCD, PTSD, and other mental inefficiencies that affect the quality of your life. 

Now that you’ve got all the answers you seek about emotional support animals, you know exactly how to go about getting a furry companion for yourself. 

If you feel like you’ve still got unanswered questions or concerns that haven’t been addressed in this comprehensive guide, relay your opinions, questions, and concerns in the comment section below and let us guide you to the answers you seek. 

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Is Emotional Support Animal Rehabilitation Beneficial? 

If you have owned a pet or pets before, you understand that they are among the best source of company, especially when feeling unwell or down. This explains why Americans own approximately 78 million dogs and nearly 86 million cats.

Apart from providing comfort, pets play a significant role for those struggling with mental illnesses and disabilities. Emotional Support Animals are a source of emotional support with positively proven outcomes.

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What is Emotional Support Animal Rehabilitation? 

There are a lot of unknown facts surrounding Emotional Support Animal rehabilitation. To begin, Emotional Support Animal rehabilitation is the use of Emotional Support Animals to provide therapeutic benefits and alleviate symptoms of a mental and emotional disability.

Unlike service animals, Emotional Support Animals do not require much training, as they don’t need to perform specific tasks. 

These animals provide comfort and companionship, helping affected individuals alleviate some aspect of their mental disorder. They help owners accomplish major daily living activities, such as caring, sleeping, walking, working, and other daily activities.

That said, dogs are the common type of Emotional Support Animals prescribed. However, cats, miniature horses, and other animals can also be used. 

Who Qualifies for Emotional Support Animal Rehabilitation? 

An estimated 18% of adults in America live with some type of mental and emotional disability. Most of these individuals can benefit from Emotional Support Animal rehabilitation. However, the majority are not aware that they can qualify.

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Qualifying for an ESA

Mental health professionals can prescribe Emotional Support Animals to those living with mental illnesses and disabilities. These include patients suffering from anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, autism spectrum disorders, and ADHD. 

Is Emotional Support Animal Rehabilitation Effective? 

Over time, Emotional Support Animals have proven effective in helping patients with emotional disabilities improve their symptoms. These animals have been proven effective in helping patients with anxiety and depression in the following ways.

1. Improve Physical Health 

Physical wellness has a significant impact on emotional wellbeing. Conclusions from a research study done by Harvard University suggested that petting a dog can decrease blood pressure.

Dog ownership has also been connected to lowered triglyceride levels. For instance, the act of walking a dog also boosts physical activity, which leads to increased endorphin or feel-good-hormone production. This helps create a stress-free physical environment that decreases symptoms of depression.

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2. Uncovers Meaning and Purpose

One of the major symptoms of anxiety and depression is social detachment. Most patients feel isolated and lack purpose in life. As such, Emotional Support Animals can provide company and unconditional love to isolated patients.

Knowing that a pet relies on you for food and other provisions develops a sense of purpose, even in patients with mental conditions.

3. Healthy Companionship 

As mentioned, individuals with emotional and mental disabilities often struggle to maintain healthy relationships with other people. During such experiences, Emotional Support Animals provide a genuinely safe and loving company.

Moreover, those suffering from depression don’t need to fake a front when spending time with their animals. As they would have to when with other humans. They can be themselves all the time without feeling judged. 

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Is Emotional Support Animal Rehabilitation Beneficial?

4. Improves Self Esteem 

Those struggling with depression often have issues with their self-esteem and prone to frequent episodes of anxiety. Emotional Support Animals can improve all these symptoms, improving one’s quality of life. A study done at Miami University by McConnell proved that pet owners comparably have high self-esteem and low fearful levels. This proves that Emotional Support Animal rehabilitation can help decrease depressive symptoms and improve the overall quality of life in individuals with mental illnesses. 

How Does Emotional Support Animals Provide Support?

Emotional Support Animals’ mechanism of action cannot be compared to drugs and other therapies aimed at improving mental conditions. These animals provide this support by simply being there for their owners.

They are an important source of unconditional love and companionship, which is overly important for those with mental disabilities. 

Mentally affected individuals develop a sense of responsibility and purpose by taking care of these animals. Feeding, walking, bathing, talking, and taking general care of these animals makes one feel important and valuable. Such is important for those struggling with anxiety and depression, as they might feel less of their self-worth. 

While Emotional Support Animals cannot talk back, these animals are excellent listeners. Furthermore, unlike humans, they are not judgmental and great at keeping secrets.

They provide a great place to confide in, which helps affected individuals work through their mental problems. 

ESAs also provide great support when their owners face difficult situations. For instance, they provide company to individuals who develop anxiety when traveling. They help owners feel confident in anxiety-inducing situations.

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Bottom Line 

Emotional Support Animals can be beneficial to millions of mentally challenged persons. If you suffer from any of these conditions and think that Emotional Support Animals will help alleviate your symptoms, you can apply for an ESA prescription letter.

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An Ultimate Guide on Emotional Support Animal Federal Law

For people who have been diagnosed with mental disabilities like anxiety or depression, Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) offer companionship and support necessary for them to ease their symptoms and lead normal lives.

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If you are considering getting an Emotional Support Animal, you will be pleased to know that ESAs enjoy protection from Emotional Support Animals federal laws, which offer privileges that do not apply to other pets.

To get the best out of your Emotional Support Animal, you should know Emotional Support Animals federal laws. So that you can protect your rights and those of your ESA.

Here is a detailed companion animal law guide for you.

1. Introducing Emotional Support Animals

Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) are animals that provide comfort and therapeutic benefits to individuals struggling with the effects or symptoms of emotional or mental disabilities.

Since Emotional Support Animals offer relief from mental and emotional disorders. They are usually prescribed as part of a treatment strategy to help promote recovery in patients suffering from recognized disabilities.

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Most patients with mental or emotional issues tend to not only lose interest in activities they previously enjoyed but also have the tendency to distance themselves from others.

If you suffer from mental health issues, you understand how much of a toll it can take on your social life. Luckily, Emotional Support Animals exist to remedy the situation. They offer you friendship and companionship, which can help you boost your mood and even regain interest in fun activities.

An ESA can completely alter your perspective about life and your present circumstances, putting you on the right path to recovery and improving the quality of your life.

With an Emotional Support Animal on your side, you enjoy the attention, companionship, and comfort that they provide. ESAs also instill a sense of security and protection, making it easy for you to deal with situations that could trigger your anxiety, such as being alone in public places or being surrounded by strangers.

ESAs are like real-life plush toys that people with mental disabilities find solace in while they cuddle with them.

Unlike friends and loved ones who may not always be by your side whenever you need them. Emotional Support Animals will always be present in your life. It doesn’t matter whether you are traveling, going shopping, or just having alone time at home. An ESA is a source of a reliable company, so you don’t feel alone.

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Emotional Support Animals

With the emotional support that ESAs provide, you are bound to experience relief from mental health disorders and live a happier life.

2. Animals That Can Be Considered as Emotional Support Animals

The good thing about Emotional Support Animals is that you don’t have to choose from a limited type of animals or species when selecting an ESA.

This is because any domesticated pet can become your ESA provided they offer you emotional support, can significantly relieve your symptoms and play a big part in helping you lead a normal life.

While there are no rules to which animals can become an ESA, your Emotional Support Animal should be easy to handle in public. This is because you will be spending most of your time both in the confines of your home and in public areas.

ESAs should also be good-mannered so they don’t become a nuisance to both the owner as well as the general public. However, this doesn’t mean you have to take your emotional support animal through special training.

Ideal Emotional Support Animals should obey simple commands for the benefit of the owner. Take note that ESAs are not trained to perform any special tasks for their owners. Some of the most commonly preferred ESAls include;

  • Cats
  • Rabbits
  • Dogs
  • Birds like parrots
  • Hamsters
  • Miniature horses

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Although the above animals are eligible for a recommendation as ESAs, cats and dogs make the majority of referred choices among most patients. Studies show that most patients choose cats or dogs as they perceive them to be more convenient in facilitating their journey to recovery.

While the choice of ESA boils down to personal preference, it is understandable why cats and dogs rank the highest. Not only are they intelligent animals capable of sensing human emotions, but they are easy to train so that they can behave well and obey simple commands in public.

For most people, cats come off as self-centered animals. However, you may be surprised to know that cats and dogs are highly sensitive to human needs, feelings, and emotions compared to hamsters, birds, and rabbits.

On the other hand, dogs have long been considered as a man’s best friend due to their loyalty and usefulness to their owners. These traits are also the reason they make one of the best animal support animals.

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How ESAs help their owners?

Whether you prefer a dog, hamster, or a parrot for your mental and emotional well-being, you can always get your doctor to prescribe you your ideal animal to help you live a better life.  

3. Disabilities that Legally Qualify You for an Emotional Support Animal

Mental health disorders are very hard to recognize and diagnose, which is why you may not know when someone is going through an emotional or mental rollercoaster.

What’s more, everyone experiences mental health issues differently, such as social anxiety, where you are scared of being in public with strangers, or even depression.

Whatever the condition, everyone looks forward to living a healthy, happy, and normal life, which is why most people seek medical attention to help them recover.

The good thing is that mental health conditions can be managed, and one way to treat them is with the help of Emotional Support Animals.

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Usually, your therapist or doctor will prescribe an Emotional Support Animal to complement your treatment for various reasons. This could be because the medication you are using does not show the desired results, or there is no change in behavior with your current treatment.

In such cases, your healthcare provider will take you through the option of having an ESA to help you recover.

Emotional Support Animals are usually a go-to option for patients suffering from a myriad of mental health and emotional issues. However, since there are specific regulations that govern Emotional Support Animals, there are specific conditions that are legally recognized by the law.

The emotional or mental disorder must be disabling to the sufferer, not just causing discomfort. An ESA must be proven to provide relief to the symptoms or effects of your disability, which should be certified and confirmed by a licensed healthcare professional.

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Emotional Support Animals

Some of the mental health disabilities that qualify for ESA recommendations include.

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)      
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Panic Attacks
  • Phobias
  • Mood Disorders

If you suffer from any of the above mental disabilities to the point that it affects your ability to function and go about your daily routines, an ESA can have a positive effect on your health.

Your ESA will ease your anxiety, boost your mood, and help you deal with difficult situations healthily.

Below are how Emotional Support Animals can help boost your mental health. 

  • PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder mostly occurs as a result of negative and traumatizing life experiences such as accidents or abuse, leaving an individual with mental scars.

An ESA can alleviate the symptoms of PTSD by radiating positive vibes as well as being a source of comfort to help you feel calm and sleep better.

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This way, you reduce your chances of getting anxiety attacks and experiencing nightmares.

By spending more time with your ESA, you get distracted from thinking about the awful life experiences and also enjoy the never-ending stream of affection from your furry friend.

  • Depression

When battling with depression, you not only experience feelings of doom and hopelessness but also:

  • tend to lose interest in previously fun activities
  • withdraw from people
  • experience anxiety

Emotional Support Animals can relieve depression by reducing anxiety, which is common in individuals with depression. They also provide companionship and friendship, which eliminates the feelings of loneliness, motivates social interactions and connections, and cultivate positive emotions.

With an ESA by your side, you will find yourself playing and caring for it, thus helping you reclaim your love for fun activities and develop a sense of self-efficacy and independence.

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  • Anxiety 

Anxiety is the most common mental disorder affecting more than 40 million adults in the U.S. When you suffer from an anxiety attack, you can cuddle or pet your Emotional Support Animal so you can regain calmness.

Since ESAs provide companionship and non-judgmental support, you can also release your anxious feelings by talking to your animal as a way of letting go.

By providing comfort and a sense of stability, an ESA can help lessen the intensity of anxiety symptoms.

  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Individuals who suffer from OCD struggle a lot with the negative feelings that come as a result of compulsive behaviors. This is because they tend to get anxious and distressed when they don’t do certain repetitive tasks for fear of something bad happening.

As such, having an ESA acts as a good distraction to these feelings. ESAs also offer a sense of comfort and protection when nervousness and anxiety creep in. OCD patients may also realize that ESAs help them focus on more important things. Instead of dwelling on upsetting and triggering thoughts.

  • Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is characterized by manic and depressive phases where you are hyper and happy one moment and depressed and “low” the next moment.

For people suffering from bipolar disorder, the presence of Emotional Support Animals offers a sense of stability as well as routine. They can also help bring you back to reality when you feel disconnected and act as a source of distraction during manic episodes.

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  • Panic Attacks

Panic attacks are a common occurrence, especially for people suffering from anxiety. They occur as a result of extreme fear of something bad happening.

If you suffer from a panic attack, the presence of an ESA can calm you down, relieving your symptoms. Cuddling with or holding your ESA has a calming effect and helps lower your heart rate and blood pressure.

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  • Phobias

An Emotional Support Animal can help you deal with phobias by providing a sense of security, reassurance, and comfort. The sheer presence of your ESA will help you calm down when you are faced with a normally scary situation.

If you suffer from social phobia, ESAs will motivate you to go out and interact with the outside world. Such as walking your dog or playing with your ESA outdoors.

Doing this helps improve your social interaction and transforms them from dreadful to enjoyable experiences.

  • Mood Disorders

Mood disorders play on the emotions of patients. An ESA provides a company that helps enhance your endorphins and increase your positive emotions.

Research has shown that when you interact with your pet or Emotional Support Animal, it triggers the release of oxytocin, which helps you relax.

4. Emotional Support Animals Federal Laws

If you want to keep and travel with your Emotional Support Animal legally, you must have an ESA letter as evidence of your need for the animal for the sake of your mental and emotional health. 

ESAs
Emotional Support Animals Federal Laws

However, owning an ESA comes with the obligation to adhere to all Emotional Support Animals federal laws regarding their ownership.

Before getting an Emotional Support Animal, you should understand all the relevant laws and regulations regarding you and your ESA. This will help you avoid problems with the law. It will also enable you to fully enjoy the benefits that an ESA has on your mental and emotional health.

When talking about Emotional Support Animals federal laws there are two laws that govern the ownership of ESAs in the US. These are the Air Carrier Access Act (ACCA) and the Fair Housing Act (FHA).

Read on to find out what these Emotional Support Animals federal laws entail as well as what you can expect from your landlord or airline where your Emotional Support Animal is concerned.

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1. The Air Carrier Access Act (ACCA)

The Air Carrier Access Act (ACCA) allows any mentally disabled individual who needs the help of an Emotional Support Animal to be permitted to board a plane with their ESA without having to pay any additional fee. The rules apply to all airlines in the USA.

If you are going to be accompanied by your ESA on a trip, you will have to show a legitimate ESA letter to the airline to be permitted to board a plane with your ESA.

Thereafter, the ACCA will ensure that the airline adequately accommodates both you and your ESA. What’s more, no airline is allowed to limit or ban an ESA based on its breed as there are no limitations to what species can play the role of an Emotional Support Animal.

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In case the airline feels that the rest of the passengers may not like sharing the cabin with your ESA, or some passengers are allergic to animals on board.

Then the airline is obligated to provide a separate cabin to accommodate you and your pet.

Keep in mind that you need to communicate with your airline about your mental disability as well as your need to travel with your ESA at least 48 hours before your boarding.

How an Emotional Support Animal Helps During a Flight

Emotional Support Animals can calm you down, provide companionship during your travel, and offer comfort. If you are scared of traveling alone or have a fear of heights, the presence of your ESA will help you relax and feel reassured.

This way, your flying experience doesn’t become as terrifying as when you are traveling alone.

Required Documentation

If you are traveling with your ESA, the authorities will require you to provide the relevant documentation.

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Pet Friendly Airlines

While every airline may have different documentation requirements, below are common documents you must have before boarding a plane to help you avoid a misdemeanor.

  • An Emotional Support Animal Letter that is signed and approved by a licensed healthcare provider. This should include your emotional disabilities, the doctor’s explanation of why you need to travel with your ESA, as well as the date and type of the mental health professional’s license. Your letter should also show the jurisdiction under which it was issued.
  • Passengers’ guarantee behavior form that shows your animal is well-mannered.
  • Veterinary documentation showing the vaccination details of the animal and if it needs special accommodation. It should also have the vets’ contact information and license.
  • Animal sanitation form. This is for when you have an over 8-hour flight, and you need to state that your ESA can relieve in a sanitary manner when need be.

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Ensure all your documents are accurate and up to date. You must ensure that your ESA letter, which usually has a validity of 1 year, is within the expiry period as you won’t be able to board a plane if it is expired.

2. The Fair Housing Act (FHA) 

Finding an ideal home to live with your ESA can be a difficult task, given the no-pet policy in most apartments. If you have an ESA letter, the Fair Housing Act (FHA) protects you and your Emotional Support Animals from being denied access to homes with no-pet policies.

According to the law, your landlord is required to accommodate you and your ESA in the property whether or not it has a no-pet policy. The law prohibits landlords from being biased against individuals with specific mental disabilities who need ESAs to lead normal lives.

ESA laws
Emotional Support Animals Federal Laws

As such, they are required to provide fitting accommodation considering their need for ESAs.

As per the American Disabilities Act(ADA), Emotional Support Animals are neither seen as service animals nor considered as pets. However, they are considered therapy animals who boost the mental well-being of their owners as they help alleviate stress and anxiety.

This gives individuals with ESAs the right to live with them without restriction by landlords.

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Reasonable Accommodation for You and Your ESA 

The law states that any person who has a mental disability and needs to keep an ESA for their wellbeing should be allowed to do so without restriction.

Therefore, the landlord is obligated to accommodate you and your ESA in the apartment, given that you have a legit recommendation for an ESA from your doctor.

Documents Required for Accommodation 

To be allowed to stay in an apartment with your ESA, you only need to provide an authentic ESA letter signed by a licensed healthcare professional.

With an ESA letter, your landlord has no right to question you over your disability. Ensure that the ESA letter you provide is up to date and explains your need for an Emotional Support Animal.  

5. The Difference in Travelling Laws for ESAs, Pets, and Service Animals

With the adoption of ESAs becoming popular, it is important to understand that ESAs differ from pets and service animals. Therefore, the traveling laws regarding these animals are all different.

Read on to understand how traveling laws differ depending on the kind of animal you keep.

1. Traveling Laws for ESAs

The law allows you to travel with your ESA for free, provided you present an authentic ESA letter signed by a licensed healthcare professional.

Your ESA letter should be up to date, and you must communicate to your airline at least 48 hours before your travel that you will be traveling with your Emotional Support Animal.

You can travel with your ESA in your cabin as long as it behaves well. If you have a small Emotional Support Animal, you can hold it while traveling.

On the other hand, bigger animals may be provided a seat or space on the floor or placed into a cage under the passenger seat if possible.

Keep in mind that different airlines may have different laws regarding ESAs. It would be best to inquire from your specific airline all the information you need regarding traveling with your Emotional Support Animal. 

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2. Travelling Laws for Pets

Unlike an ESA, you cannot travel with your pet for free as you will have to part with anything between $100 and $200 for it to be allowed in the passenger cabin.

While most airlines put pets inside the cargo hold, some may allow you to stay with your pet during travel as long as it is in a cage. However, airlines are not obligated to accommodate pets. 

3. Traveling Laws for Service Animals

Owners of service animals can travel with their animals in the passenger cabin as per the law. What’s more, airlines are responsible for accommodating service animals during travel. Only one service animal is allowed per patient.

When traveling, your animal should have a vest or tag that identifies it as a service animal.

For you to fly with your service animal in the passenger cabin, it should be toilet-trained and well-mannered. You should also not share your tray with your service animal, and it shouldn’t be a nuisance to other passengers as you risk having your furry friend accommodated somewhere else.

6. Emotional Support Animals vs. House Pets in the Eyes of the Law

While you may see ESAs and house pets as one thing, they are classified and perceived differently in the eyes of the law. Below are some of the main factors that set apart ESAs from pets.

ESA letter
ESA Pets Vs House Pets

1. Purpose

Emotional Support Animals provide support and companionship and are solely recommended for treatment purposes to individuals suffering from emotional and mental disabilities like anxiety and depression.

Housepets, on the other hand, are animals adopted largely for entertainment purposes and serve no medical function.

2. Adoption

To adopt an ESA, you need a recommendation or prescription from a licensed healthcare provider. Showing that you need an Emotional Support Animal to alleviate your mental disability.

The process of adopting a pet does not require a doctor’s prescription. 

3. Eligibility

While anyone can keep a pet, only individuals suffering from mental or emotional disorders are eligible to keep ESAs. What’s more, the mental disorder should be confirmed by a licensed medical health professional and should be severe enough to disrupt your ability to function rather than causing mere discomfort.

The law allows you to turn your pet into an ESA, but you cannot turn your ESA into a pet. 

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4. Permits

Emotional Support Animals are protected by federal law and allowed special treatment as they are recognized as of immense importance to their owner’s health.

Normally, pets may not be allowed in certain places such as public parks, hotels, and even shopping centers. However, you can legally access places and live in apartments with no-pet policies with your ESA as long as you have an authentic ESA letter.

5. Traveling

Although a pet cannot travel with you on a plane for free, your Emotional Support Animal is permitted by the Air Carrier Access Act to board a plane with you for free.

What’s more, your airline is expected to provide appropriate accommodation to you and your ESA according to the law.

6. Dependence

Since you can adopt a pet either for companionship or entertainment, your mental well-being may not necessarily depend on it.

On the contrary, people who keep ESAs rely on them for emotional support and better mental health.

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7. How Emotional Support Animals Federal Laws Differ from Service Animal Laws

Service animals are dogs that have been trained to perform specific tasks for people living with disabilities such as the blind, the deaf, and even people in wheelchairs.

They are trained to retrieve items, provide protection, alert their owners, and even provide physical support for people with mobility problems.

Just like ESAs, service animals are not categorized as pets and are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). However, the law perceives ESAs differently from service animals.

Since service animals help their owner complete specific tasks, they can accompany their owners everywhere, including places where neither pets nor service animals are allowed, such as hospitals. The law allows the owner to be with their service animal at all times.

Although ESAs are prescribed to people living with mental disabilities. Doctors encourage individuals with handicaps to acquire service animals to help them perform certain duties that they can’t do on their own.

ESA vs Service Animals
Emotional Support Animal vs Service Animals

When it comes to the purpose of the animal, you can keep an ESA for the company and support to help you deal with a mental disorder. However, service animals exist not for the company but for the purpose of conquering your disability by helping you carry out activities that you normally wouldn’t due to your condition.

Despite the differences between service animals and ESAs, both categories can accompany you to school or college, and your school dorms are required to accommodate them.

8. Training an Emotional Support Animal vs. A Service Animal

Service animals undergo special training before they can be adopted. They have to learn how to take orders, perform simple tasks like leading the blind, fetching things, and even open and closing doors. Service animals can also be trained to understand sign language. The training that service animals get is usually directly related to a disability. ESAs, on the other hand, don’t require special training. This is because they only provide comfort and emotional support, unlike service animals that need to complete tasks for their owners.

Since service animals are more like assistants to the disabled, the law requires service animals to have vests that differentiate them from other animals like pets and ESAs. You don’t have to get a vest for your ESA.

9. Getting an ESA Letter

Whether you want to turn your pet into an ESA or adopt a new Emotional Support Animal, you need an ESA letter to help you live, travel, and spend quality time with your ESA.

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Get ESA Letter

An ESA letter is written by a licensed doctor or therapist showing that you suffer from a mental disability that requires you to have an Emotional Support Animal to help you recover. With an ESA letter, you can travel and live with your ESA, even in areas where pets are not allowed. You only need to go through the following simple steps to get an authentic ESA letter. But before that, take some time out and read reviews of authentic ESA letter providers.

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1. Book an appointment

The first step to getting an ESA letter is booking an appointment with a licensed and experienced mental health professional. Always ensure that you are dealing with an authentic and licensed healthcare provider to avoid ending up with a fake ESA letter.

2. Open up about your mental health

Once you get in touch with your therapist or doctor, explain in detail your mental health as well as your need for an ESA. Your healthcare provider will assess and evaluate your condition to establish your suitability for an Emotional Support Animal before issuing you with a recommendation letter.

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3. Apply for an Emotional Support Animal Letter

After your assessment, you can then apply for an ESA letter from a reliable healthcare provider. You can do this by either visiting your doctor or making an online application from a legitimate website.

4. Fill the form

You will be given a form to fill when you apply for an ESA letter. Ensure that you provide accurate details regarding your credentials, mental disabilities, and why you think an Emotional Support Animal is necessary for your mental health.

Keep in mind that the information you provide will go a long way in determining whether or not you will get an ESA letter.

5. Choose an Emotional Support Animal

Once you have filled the form and your application is approved, it is time to select an Emotional Support Animal. You can choose your present pet to become your ESA as you already have an existing connection with it. If you don’t have a pet, you can always adopt a new animal. With the help of adoption agencies so that you can begin your journey to a healthier and happier life.

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Conclusion

Federal ESA laws protect your rights as well as those of your Emotional Support Animal. As such, you must adhere to all the rules and regulations related to your ESA to enable you to live harmoniously with the people around you and also avoid getting on the wrong side of the law.

This way, you can enjoy the company of your Emotional Support Animal without interference and improve your mental health as well as your quality of life.

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Emotional Support Animal Certification Laws You Should Know

 ESA, short for Emotional Support Animals, is a relatively new breakthrough in mental health. For decades, the challenges associated with treating patients with mental problems proved a challenge for mental health physicians.

Nonetheless, mental healthcare has made significant strides over time, with Emotional Support Animals playing a significant role in the evolutions witnessed in this field.

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Unfortunately, due to the radical occurrence of Emotional Support Animals, most people don’t understand what ESAs are and the rules governing the use of these animals. Adding to this is the fact that ESA certification policies vary from one state to another. 

What is an Emotional Support Animal? 

Contrary to what most people believe, Emotional Support Animals are not pets. They are companion animals with therapeutic effects on individuals with psychiatric conditions. Anyone seeking Emotional Support Animals should have a variable disability, as the animals cannot be used for companionship only. Owners of Emotional Support Animals are protected under two federal laws. They include; 

1. The Fair Housing Act 

Under this law, property owners should accommodate tenants owning Emotional Support Animals without discrimination, even if the house policies do not allow pets. The Department of Housing provides guidelines on how the FHA provisions should be implemented and enforces these rules. These laws were designed to eliminate discrimination against disabled persons and apply to all housing in all U.S states, including condominiums, rentals, and co-ops, with very few exceptions. 

ESA
Emotional Support Animal Laws

Under these laws, ESAs are identified as assistance animals that provide accommodation for people with mental conditions, such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD. According to these laws, ESAs are not categorized as ordinary pets. Therefore, they are exempted from pet restrictions placed by housing providers. 

That said, Emotional Support Animal owners have several rights under these laws. They include; 

  • Property owners should not impose the size, weight, and breed limitations on ESA owners.
  • Landlords should not charge additional fees or deposits for ESAs.
  • Housing providers should not request detailed information about the tenant’s condition, such as medical history.
  • Property owners can deny ESA accommodation if the situation will impose an unexpected financial burden or if the ESA is a threat to other building occupants. 

As mentioned, most property types are covered under the FHA guidelines. However, there are exceptions for small property owners. For instance, landlords with buildings housing less than four units, rent out without an agency, and single-family houses being sold are exempted. That aside, some states have formulated state-based rules outlining specific housing rights to owners of these animals.

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2. ESA Travel Law 

The second law regulating Emotional Support Animals is the Air Carrier Access Act. According to this law’s provisions, passengers can fly in the cabin with their Emotional Support Animals free of charge. This law applies to all U.S airlines, flights within the U.S, and those originating and arriving in the U.S. The Department of Transportation issues and enforces these guidelines. However, specific airlines have additional policies outlining their requirements. 

That said, if you intend to fly with your Emotional Support Animal, it is prudent that you check with the airline before the travel date. Ensure that you contact the airline and submit all the necessary documentation at least 48 hours before the departure date. 

Under the ACAA policies, passengers and airlines with ESAs should comply with the following rules; 

  • The airline should not charge any fee for Emotional Support Animals.
  • Airlines should accommodate all ESAs, including cats, dogs, and miniature horses.
  • Any airline cannot restrict ESAs to one for every passenger.
  • Airlines cannot ban ESAs because they are of a specific breed. However, they can deny the ESA if they pose a danger to other plane occupants.
  • Airlines cannot apply categorical restrictions on ESA because of weight. However, they can determine if the animal is too heavy or large to fit into the cabin.
  • Airlines can deny ESAs that are unusual animals, such as spiders, snakes, and other reptiles. 

How to Get ESA Certification Letter 

Licensed healthcare professionals, such as therapists, social workers, psychologists, nurses, counselors, and doctors, can issue ESA certification letters. Therefore, it is best if you consult a health professional monitoring your mental health. However, ensure that you meet the requirements outlined by your state for ESA certifications. For instance, Virginia regulations acknowledge ESA certifications from mental health professionals only. Also, note that these certifications are only valid for one year.

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Get ESA Letter

Bottom Line 

Emotional Support Animals have shown remarkable effectiveness in improving the health status of patients with mental disorders. If you intend to apply for these animals, ensure that you consult with your mental healthcare provider for the best recommendations.

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If you have any challenges finding a certified healthcare professional, get in touch with ESA doctors. Licensed professionals in the company can help connect you with licensed mental healthcare professionals in your state.

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How to Use Emotional Support Horses for Your Mental Health 

The healthy relationship between humans and horses started long ago, with research suggesting that it began more than 6000 years ago. However, besides being a beast of burdens and transportation tools in the past, horses are currently key players in rehabilitating people with mental disorders. Emotional support horses is a general term that includes a plethora of therapeutic activities that involve horses.

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Among the activities include Hippotherapy, which uses horses’ movement for occupational, speech, and physical therapy. Equine-assisted psychotherapy is another type, which involves the use of horses in treating behavioral and psychological issues.

The guide below outlines how people with mental disorders can use this treatment option. 

How Horses Help With Mental Health 

Caring and interacting with horses and other animals has several proven health benefits. Besides providing companionship, comfort, and promoting general well-being, they currently offer therapeutic benefits. However, research is yet to provide how horses can alleviate motor, sensory, mental, and behavioral problems. Though the mechanism of action of equine-assisted therapies has not been clearly established, theoretical perspectives are present. 

Some perspectives suggest that horses are prey animals, making them highly attuned to the environment and sensitive to emotional states compared to dogs and other Emotional Support Animals. Surprisingly, horses can read and become aware of human feelings. They can also give feedback about their owners by moving towards or away from the owner. 

emotional support horses
Benefits of Emotional Support Horses

Horses are also large and powerful in nature, giving them the potential of making humans overcome fear and gain confidence that can be used in real-life situations. Their unbiased nature in responding to human behavior and intent also helps with mental healing. 

That said, emotional support horses can help with anxiety, depression, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, behavioral challenges, eating disorders, and relationship problems, among others.

Benefits of these therapies include:

  1. Improved self-esteem.
  2. Empowerment.
  3. Better communication skills.
  4. Relaxation.
  5. Self-awareness.
  6. Improved interpersonal relationships. 

Using Emotional Support Horses 

Equine therapy involves more than riding a horse. Some patients may not even come into physical contact with the horse. In most cases, the equine therapy expert will set goals for the patient to complete. Goals could range from leading a horse to a designated spot or installing a halter. Once the task is complete, the therapist guides the patient in discussing the process and ideas involved in completing the task. 

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Listening to the gals stimulates the patient’s listening ability. Discussing the process with the patient helps in improving communication skills. Communication between the patient and the horse is beneficial, especially in patients struggling with PTSD and anxiety. Depending on the nature of the mental disorder, therapists leading equine-assisted support can use one of the following options; 

  • Cognitive Therapy 

The cognitive therapy option is majorly used for patients with anxiety. Once the horses sense danger from the patients, they respond by being very aware of their environment, in some situations by trying to flee the surrounding. Patients with anxiety disorders can feel the changes by observing the reactions, prompting them to share their anxiety issues with therapists. Focusing on the animals’ apprehensive nature rather than the patient significantly reduces the patients’ anxious response.

  • Physical Activities 

This is probably what comes to most people’s minds when they hear of emotional support horses. This alternative targets people struggling with anxiety, as they often try to avoid challenging and fearful activities beyond their comfort zones. In this situation, therapists allow individuals to choose activities that are beyond their skill level. The therapist can then assist them through the challenges. 

  • Activity Scheduling 

Most people with mental disorders often try to avoid inherent responsibilities in their daily lives, probably due to anxiety feelings. However, the more they avoid the situations, the more the level of anxiety perpetuates. Therefore, planning to care for the horse throughout the day can slowly teach affected persons a sense of responsibility. This enables them to focus away from anxiety and resume normal daily activities. 

emotional support horses
Equine-Assisted Therapy
  • Storytelling and Play Therapy 

As mentioned, most characteristics of horses are identifiable with humans. Among them include curiosity, play, freedom, and social drive instincts. Engaging in play therapy enables individuals to anticipate building relationships and limits. Storytelling, on the other hand, contributes to better creativity and language skills. 

Bottom Line 

Equine therapy for treating mental disorders is often used in families or group therapy since Emotional Support Horses easily show interpersonal behavior. The treatment is also goal-oriented and allows members of the group to work towards achieving one goal. Horses are a good choice due to their non-judgmental and unbiased nature. They also provide accurate mirroring and feedback, which helps alleviate various mental conditions.

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That said, contact ESA Doctors if you need more guidance on the use of emotional support horses. Healthcare professionals in the institution provide guidance on appropriate equine-therapy measures to stabilize your mental condition.

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ESA vs Service Animals: Solving the Greatest Conflict!

 

Caring about animal welfare is the compassionate thing to do. That’s because animal ownership brings forth new responsibilities. At the same time, it’s essential that you understand how those responsibilities are defined in the law.

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Pets are our greatest companions in the animal kingdom. As such, there are numerous physical and emotional benefits associated with animals. However, many pet owners try to skirt laws by falsely claiming their animal is an ESA or a service animal in an effort to save money. This is the reason why many people have asked to revise the ADA to avoid any confusion.

So, why is there so much confusion between service animals and Emotional Support Animals?

Hidden field

Emotional support animals (ESA) and service animals serve a higher purpose other than being a regular house pet. While both serve humans, ESAs and service dogs are often confused.

The two terms differ with respect to the roles the animals play and your legal rights as the owner. Yes, there are different laws covering the rights of Emotional Support Dogs and Service Dogs. While Emotional Support Animals and Service Animals are covered by federal statute, they are specifically and individually covered by different laws.

You should check your state’s law and follow the law that offers the most protection for service animals. While the laws governing ESAs and Service Animals are different, they are both key assets for many people.

This article provides guidance on the laws that govern service animals and ESAs. Read on to learn which animals qualify as Service Animals or as ESAs.

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1. ESA VS. Service Animals

It is important to take into account the differences between ESAs and Service Animals. A number of animals can qualify as an ESA. However, a shortlist of animals can become Service Animals under federal law. Here is a brief introduction of Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals.

Emotional Support Animals (ESA)

There are many benefits to having a dog, from getting yourself out for exercise to receiving loyal companionship. However, animals can also provide emotional support for people with mental health concerns.

Emotional Support Animals are one way to provide ongoing support to individuals with a serious depressive disorder. They bring comfort and minimize the negative symptoms of the person’s emotional or psychological disability.

Unlike service dogs, these animals require no special training. Furthermore, the assistance animal is not a pet, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

ESA vs Service Animals
Emotional Support Animal vs Service Animals

Similarly, in order for your animal to be accepted as an ESA, you must have an Emotional Support Animal Letter from a licensed health official. As a result, ESAs are protected under federal laws in housing situations with no-pet policies.

However, some state governments have regulations that allow people to take Emotional Support Animals to many places.

The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) allows for Emotional Support Animals for any person that has a disability. These animals are always allowed to accompany their owners in any public or private transportation vehicle or facility.

Common ESAs

Any domesticated animal can potentially qualify as an Emotional Support Animal. However, ESAs are typically dogs and cats. Some of the other common Emotional Support Animals include:

  • Horses
  • Rabbits
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Reptiles
  • Birds

Any animal you choose must be under your control. This means no barking, running around, or jumping in public.

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Service Animals

A service animal is any animal that is trained to perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability. They can also calm someone with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack.

This training could be done by an organization, but it does not have to be under the ADA.

Service animals are sometimes called helper animals or support animals. They are also usually paired with one particular person, often for life.

A support animal can be any reasonable animal, although most airlines don’t accept anything but a dog, mini horse, or cat. Most often, it’s dogs that are used as service animals due to their relatively high intelligence. Common service dog breeds can range from very small to very large.

Federal regulations allow for a comprehensive definition of service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In September 2010, a final rule was published to amend the service animal definition to be limited to dogs.

Consequently, cats, monkeys, snakes, rabbits, or other types of animals are not considered service animals under DOJ’s rules. Furthermore, dogs whose only role is to offer emotional support or comfort do not qualify as service animals.

It is also important for staff members at establishments such as restaurants to know how they can properly verify a service dog. The staff members need to look at the specific service animal to determine if it poses a threat to the health or safety of other people.

Examples of such establishments are hotels, restaurants, bars, movie theaters, and sports stadiums.

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2. Specific Services Offered by Emotional Support Animals and Service Animals

Service dogs and ESAs all fulfill essential roles in their aid to humans. Both ESAs and service animals fall under the same category when it comes to their rights, but there are a few differences.

For instance, relevant laws, health factors, appropriate facilities, and cultural expectations will vary. Nevertheless, the task of a service or ESA animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability.

Emotional Support Animals

An Emotional Support Animal does nothing but offer comfort to their owner; therefore, they are of very little use to people who have some sort of physical disability. ESAs aid the psychologically disabled to cope better with their disability. Some of these disabilities include:

  • Anxiety Attack

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States. An anxiety attack is a feeling of overwhelming apprehension, worry, distress, or fear. It causes increased alertness, fear, and physical signs, such as a rapid heart rate. Anxiety disorders can also make it hard to breathe, sleep, and stay still.

ESA
Benefits of ESA

Experiencing occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. However, for a person with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety does not go away. It’s no wonder then that many people are moving toward more holistic approaches to treatment, such as getting Emotional Support Animals.

Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) are perfect for people in distress. ESAs for anxiety improve the lives of those who experience feelings of fear and worry. For those dealing with depression, they can be especially important for improving the quality of life and health.

Other benefits of being with ESAs include:

  • less fear
  • better mood
  • better social interactions

The main focus is to provide complete comfort to the patient.

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  • Mental Disabilities

Animals can play a very important role in assisting people with mental disabilities. ESAs help individuals with mental disabilities by providing comfort and support. Research has shown that having an Emotional Support Animal increases levels of oxytocin and reduces levels of mental illness.

Therefore, if you are suffering from mental illnesses, the comforting presence of an ESA can truly make your road to recovery easier.

  • PTSD

PTSD is a mental health problem that’s caused by a terrifying occurrence— either being affected by it or witnessing it. Someone with PTSD often relives the traumatic event through nightmares and flashbacks and may cause clinically significant distress or impairment in the person’s social interactions.

The condition was first recognized in war veterans and has been known by a variety of names.

Counseling, cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), or medication helps to treat PTSD. However, if you are suffering from PTSD, you may find that an ESA is a good addition to your therapy program.

The love and support of an ESA is especially important because your friends and family members may have trouble understanding your condition.

According to the ADA, ESAs can calm a person with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack. These companion pets can also alleviate the symptoms of an individual’s disability.

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  • Depression

Depression is an emotional state punctuated by feelings of guilty and self-loathing. It is often marked by a loss of interest or constant sadness.

This can cause severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities. Some people experience these feelings for long periods and sometimes without any obvious reason.

In the US, depression affects roughly 6.7% of the population over 18 years of age. With proper diagnosis and treatment, the vast majority of people with depression will overcome it. However, some people can recover from depression by getting an Emotional Support Animal.

ESAs may offer a more affordable way of improving symptoms of depression. This is due to the fact that animals have an amazing ability to lift your spirit just by being there.

This can also dramatically improve your overall mental health and decrease the debilitating effect of depression.

  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

OCD is a common, chronic, and long-lasting disorder in which you have unwanted thoughts or sensations that make you feel driven to do something repetitively. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder can affect men, women, and children. However, it usually begins in late childhood or early adolescence.

Believe it or not, there is an emotional support dog for individuals suffering from OCD. Evidence suggests that the presence of ESAs can reduce the subjective experience of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Something as simple as being greeted by a happy dog with a wagging tail can help alleviate OCD symptoms. Similarly, dogs can increase your neurochemicals like dopamine through bonding and love.

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Service Animals

Right now, only dogs and very occasionally miniature horses can be considered service animals. These animals serve many purposes, including:

1. Physical Disabilities

  • Mobility Impairments

Service animals can carry and pick up objects for individuals with mobility impairments. They can also help a person with poor balance and assist those who use wheelchairs. However, these service animals must be in your control at all times by leash and/or harness.

Service Animals
Service Animals Services
  • Diabetes

Service dogs are able to help those with diabetes, thanks to their heightened sense of smell. These service animals can detect hypoglycemia and inform you or others to treat it. In particular, they can tell you if your blood sugar is dropping, and they can also retrieve diabetes test kits or medications.

This allows you to take the proper steps to return your blood sugar to a normal healthy range.

  • Allergies

Anyone with respiratory anaphylaxis can benefit from having a service dog. Generally, service dogs are used when an allergy severely impacts your well being.

These dogs can aid you by checking areas for traces of nuts, in particular, peanuts, walnuts, and cashew nuts. The dog can also indicate the presence of the allergen upon entering a new environment.

  • Cardiac and Respiratory Disabilities

Service animals are trained specifically to detect shifts in heart rhythm and blood flow. They can also detect lower or higher sugar, serotonin levels, and other hormonal changes too. They can then issue a quick alert signal when you are experiencing or about to experience a  hyperglycemic or hypoglycemic episode.

This advance warning allows the individual to take essential medication, lie down, or rest. Moreover, service dogs can be an enormous consolation and source of stress reduction during heart attacks.

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2. Sensory and Neurological Disabilities

  • Autism

Service dogs can provide emotional support and physical safety for children with autism. They help them improve social interactions and relationships, and improve nonverbal and verbal communication skills. By increasing this type of interaction, the child with autism receives more verbal stimulation.

They can also provide deep pressure therapy and act as a deterrent for self-harm.

  • Epilepsy

Service dogs provide protection and relief to those who suffer from seizure disorders. These animals can perform a wide range of epileptic tasks, including barking to alert caregivers when a seizure occurs.

They can also alert others, protect the person, and help them as they recover from the seizure. Moreover, they can detect oncoming seizures and provide assistance during an attack.

  • Visual Disability

Many blind people can’t get around without the help of a well-trained service animal. Generally, there are over a dozen different specializations for service dogs.

These dogs are trained to guide you around obstacles, such as other people, potholes, and telephone poles. They can also enhance your independence by helping with tasks such as pulling a wheelchair and turning light switches. As a bonus, service dogs may also lead to positive interaction with other people.

  • Hearing Disability

A service animal that aids deaf people is also known as a ‘hearing dog.’ Service dogs are usually trained to help people who are deaf or have a hearing loss. The most important thing a hearing dog offers its handler is an increased awareness of his or her environment.

That’s because they are naturally attentive to noises in their environment and can react calmly to unfamiliar sounds.

Service dogs can alert their deaf handlers by making physical contact and then directing them to the sound’s location. For these dogs to work effectively, they must have access to many places. That’s why service animals must be given access to almost everywhere their human handlers go.

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3. The Training Process of Service Animals and ESAs

Training a dog to become a service animal doesn’t happen overnight. Read on to know the differences between the training process of an emotional support animal and a service animal. 

Emotional Support Animals

Emotional Support Animals do not require any specialized training. They do not have any particular schools or institutions where they get training for being an ESA. Although Emotional Support Animals do not have to be as highly trained as service animals, poorly trained ESAs are a threat to the health, safety, and function of people and themselves.

Normally, tailoring training programs for all kinds of animals exist to meet each person’s individual needs. Either way, the main training requirement seems to be that the animal is domesticated and provides a service to its handler.

ESA
Benefits of ESA

Though the exact requirements of each test vary, most of them require that the animal is screened for its ability to interact favorably with humans and other animals. An ESA is trained to be friendly, patient, confident, gentle, and at ease in all situations.

Handlers of ESAs must also have the skills and confidence required to include their animals in their daily practice and in a manner that is safe.

Service Animals

Before taking your service dog for training, you must show a disability diagnosis certificate from a licensed physician stating that a service animal will assist you with your disability. The international standard is 120 hours for a minimum of six months or more.

There isn’t a set requirement for hours in the U.S., but a period of over six months is preferred. Moreover, the costs can vary widely for owner service dog training.

These highly trained dogs do a wide range of assignments that allow their handlers to have greater hope, independence, and freedom. Depending on your preferences, your service animal can undergo training for mobility assistance and medical assistance.

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Should you choose to enroll your pet, a trainer will evaluate it. This is meant to gauge whether the animal can master the complex behaviors required for public access and advanced training.

The animals can be taught to open doors, pick items up off the floor, and retrieve a phone if you fall. The dog can also be trained to detect an anxiety attack long before it happens and alert you to take medications.

Highly trained service animals work for their owners with a number of services, such as:

  • Sniff out illegal drugs, explosives, blood, human remains, and more.
  • Alert their handlers to important sounds, including doorbells and knocks on the door.
  • Possess a stable, even temperament without anxiety and reactivity.
  • Bring medication or water to help swallow medication.
  • calm an individual who suffers from PTSD, and even dial 911 in the event of an emergency.
  • Open/close doors, drawers, and refrigerators.
  • Pick up dropped items.
  • Provide a focal point when situations become difficult to cope with.
  • Turning Lights On.
  • Turning Lights Off.
  • Deposit Garbage Into Can.
  • Carry Mail From Mailbox to House.
  • Smell the chemical body changes that occur as insulin levels increase or drop.
  • Alert the person or the caregivers to take action when a panic attack occurs.

Some breeds are particularly effective because they tend to remain in constant physical contact. However, there are a number of issues that you should be aware of. For instance, a diabetic alert service dog is never 100% accurate.

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4. Adoption Process of Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals

The process of adopting a service animal or an ESA is time-consuming, but it’s a worthwhile task. Therefore, make sure to allow for plenty of time to get the adoption process completed.

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The qualifications for adoption don’t all center around floor-to-ceiling checklists. Instead, each adoption agency has its own requirements. Additionally, each state has its own unique service animal and ESA adoption laws.

Here’s how the process works.

Emotional Support Animals (ESAs)

It’s important to know what to look for when adopting an emotional support animal. Therefore, start by conducting research as certain breeds are better suited for emotional support than others. Generally, there are many different types of therapy animals to choose from.

If you are mostly immobile, a cat may be the best choice since you won’t have to walk it.

Most people choose to adopt a dog. However, with so many choices on offer, deciding on a breed isn’t always easy. When choosing a dog, consider what type suits you best. Some of the most adorable ESA dogs are purebreds, while others are mixed-breeds. 

At the same time, you have to visualize what your life would look like with your dog. Will, your dog be left home alone for long periods? Remember that if you just choose a dog that you find cute, you may end up with an unsuitable dog.

The next step is to find an eligible animal service provider. Choosing a service animal provider can be one of the most critical decisions that you make in your ESA’s life.

ESA Benefits
Health Benefits of ESA dog

When choosing an animal service provider, you must focus on getting someone that you and your animal are comfortable with. Next, you will need to complete and submit an application with all the required supporting documents attached.

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Service Animals

Finding out if you qualify or don’t qualify for a service dog can be a difficult task. That’s because there are lots of meanings of the term disability and service animals. For instance, not every physical disability automatically qualifies an individual for a service animal.

Either way, you must have a diagnosed physical or mental disability, or a neurological disorder affecting at least one limb. In addition, the service dog must be able to carry out a critical task that you have great difficulty performing.

This means the work is done or tasks performed must be directly related to your disability. Furthermore, the service dog must have high trainability and be alert to stimuli (such as behavioral signs of human anxiety). Because of this very important purpose, service dogs and their owners have certain rights in public spaces.

Next, you’ll need to determine the breed of the dog that is ideal for you. A few breeds likely come to mind when you think about service dogs, like the greyhound.

However, there are specific breeds of dogs out there who are especially suited for serving as service animals. Similarly, some dog breeds have a strong drive to help out and be put to work.

Labradors make great service animals and can perform a variety of services. That’s because they are sociable and hardworking critters with a lot of love to give. Similarly, the poodle is a perfect service dog because it can assist with food allergies or home care.

Other people choose to go with Boxers because they are happy, clownish, and one of the best dog breeds for service dogs.

Another common breed is St. Bernard. This is, by far, one of the most popular service dog breeds in history. It is known for having stable temperaments, is task-oriented, and is physically powerful.

After selecting your preferred dog breed, you’ll need to get a service dog trainer from a reputable organization. The ideal service animal provider must have experience in training dogs, ranging from all levels of behavioral modification to obedience training.

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5. Legal Status of ESAs and Service Animals

Emotional Support Animals

What are the laws protecting Emotional Support Animals and service animals? Emotional Support Animals and service animals have different rights and responsibilities under federal and state laws. Some of these laws are:

  • The Air Carrier Access Act

This law guarantees that persons with disabilities get consistent and non-discriminatory services during air travel. It also stipulates the obligations of airlines to accommodate passengers requiring special needs. Moreover, this regulation allows for alternative versions of access to be used and supplemented.

The Act applies to service animals because it prohibits discrimination in air transportation. ESAs can travel with the owner in the open without the restriction of being caged. In the terminal, airlines must provide animal relief areas.

However, you may be required to have certain documentation if you intend to travel with an emotional support or service animal. This only applies to persons with disabilities and not to all persons with mental illness.

ESA laws
Laws of ESA
  • The Fair Housing Act

The Fair Housing Act (FHA) is a federal regulation that illegalizes discrimination against tenants with disabilities. That includes people with restrictions, special needs, or assistive aids, such as Emotional Support Animals.

The law regards an ESA as a “tool” for aiding an individual with a disability. Similarly, weight and breed limits do not apply to assistance or service animals. These laws must be obeyed by:

  • Building lot owners
  • Real estate agents
  • Leasing agents
  • Rental managers
  • Financial institutions

Under the Act, a landlord can’t decline to accommodate a disabled person just because their insurance doesn’t cover Emotional Support Animals. This means that you can’t be denied housing based on an animal that you require as support.

Similarly, the property owner cannot demand any documentation for the ESA or require that it demonstrate its ability to perform a task. Furthermore, they may not demand access to medical records or unreasonably delay your rental request. The 2020 regulations also stipulate that housing providers can’t impose charge deposits and fees or impose breed/weight restrictions for ESAs.

However, the landlord can ask a few questions to determine whether an animal qualifies as an ESA. Also, you should be aware that there is a presumption that one animal is enough. At the same time, your tenancy can be declined if your animal poses a direct threat to the safety or health of other tenants.

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Service Animals

  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was created to protect the civil rights of those with disabilities. It went into effect in 1990. ADA’s primary purpose is to ensure that people with disabilities have the same human, legal, and civil rights as others. In the context of the ADA, “disability” is a legal term rather than a medical one.

When the law was initially enacted, the protections offered for individuals utilizing animals for medical and emotional support were limited. The law now specifies the definition of a service animal and the rights of individuals with disabilities.

ESA letter
Get ESA Letter

In addition, the law applies to all public facilities, such as restaurants, hotels, taxis and shuttles, grocery and department stores, and many others. For example, in a hospital, it would be illegal to prevent a service animal from accessing spaces such as patient rooms. This means that these places must allow service dogs.

Besides, the ADA requires public facilities to provide adequate information on services in accessible formats for individuals with disabilities.

The ADA requires public accommodations to allow service animals to accompany their owners. Besides, public accommodations can’t require special ID cards for the animal or ask about the person’s disability. At the same time, the ADA regulations do not restrict the type of dog breeds that can be service animals. However, service dogs must be under control at all times.

According to ADA, service animals perform some of the tasks that you can’t perform. This means that the animal must actually perform an action or task that benefits you. Other support or therapy animals are not covered under the ADA.

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6. The Qualifications of ESA and Service Animal Handlers

Do you qualify for a service dog or an emotional support animal (ESA)? Here are the requirements that you must satisfy before you are allowed to own an ESA or a service animal.

  • Emotional Support Animals

Anybody from anywhere in the United States can own an emotional service animal, regardless of race, religion, or gender. If you have an emotional disability, you can legally qualify for an ESA. Your disability could be sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or mental.

You may need a doctor to sign a verification form to complete that process. This is basically a signed letter stating that you have an emotional health challenge and that your pet helps you deal with it. The letter is the main and most important piece in the process of actually getting an emotional support animal. This is required so that people won’t abuse this system.

ESA
ESA in public places

Some of the eligible emotional disabilities include bipolar disorder, depression, fears and phobias, postpartum depression, and social anxiety disorder.

The ADA regulations do not require you to register your emotional support dog.

  • Service Dog

While anyone can own a trained service dog, not anyone can use it. First, a treating physician must diagnose you with a qualifying disability.

In most cases, all that is needed to qualify is a letter from your medical professional. The physician’s letter must indicate what specific assignments the service animal is required to master to provide the needed assistance.

In addition, there will be interviews and application forms intended to determine exactly how a dog can be most helpful. You may find it beneficial to seek further information from your doctor, employer, and landlord.

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Common Qualifying Disabilities

  • Anxiety attacks
  • Asthma
  • Autism
  • Blindness
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Paralysis
  • Problems with speech
  • Social anxiety

If you suffer from epilepsy, you may qualify for a seizure service dog. For a seizure condition to qualify, you must suffer at least one seizure every month. If your application falls within the legal criteria, you will be invited to find and adopt a trained service animal.

Final Thoughts

Remember that ESAs cannot be classified as Service Animals. That’s because service dogs receive more legal protections than emotional support dogs.

Emotional Support Animals are becoming a popular way to manage mental disabilities. As a person living with disabilities, you must know the potential benefits and risks of ESAs. Fortunately, a licensed healthcare professional can help you determine whether an emotional support animal is ideal for you.

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Service animals are amazing dogs trained to compensate for many different types of disabilities. They are also trained for the honorable people who have disabilities and retired from the military. Service dogs can’t be denied access to any public space unless they are misbehaving in public. This means that your service animals must be under your control and housebroken.

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