Emotional support animals have gained a lot of popularity in recent years. And while they are getting popular day by day, rumors and myths surrounding them seem to be increasing as well. You may have heard different stories about them. Many people still in confusion when it comes to an emotional support dog and a service animal. In fact, some people don’t even know what they do or how to get one. When you are not familiar with the correct information, it becomes easy to believe in these myths. So, what are emotional support animals?
What are Emotional Support Animals?
Emotional support animals offer comfort and help in alleviating the symptoms of emotional or psychological disorders. These animals can help improve the quality of life of a person by helping them improve their mental health. While the most common ESAs are dogs and cats, any other animal with reasonable size and temperament can become ESAs. Some are rabbits, hedgehogs, pigs, miniature horses, birds, and more.
A lot of people still do not understand what right legal rights an ESA owner gets and how the entire thing actually works. Today, we will debunk the most widespread myths about emotional support animals.
Myth 1. Emotional support animals, service animals, and therapy animals are all the same
There are a lot of people who do not see the difference between these different assistance animals. It often becomes very confusing for them to tell the difference between them. If you are also one of them, read along.
Service animals are highly trained for specific tasks to help people with physical or psychological issues. These animals undergo tests and certifications to qualify as a service dog. After the training, they are paired with a disabled person. They are also permitted to enter public places with their owners.
Therapy animals are used under the guidance of counselors. They do their duties in special counseling settings only. These animals are basically used to enhance the communication between the doctor and patient. They make the therapeutic session more effective.
Emotional support animals
ESAs play an important part in the life of a person with mental or psychological issues. These animals help in maintaining the well-being of their owner’s mental health. Unlike service animals, ESAs do not undergo any special training for their work. ESAs provide companionship and support to help people cope with symptoms associated with a psychological disability.
Every type of assistance animals is there to help their owners deal with mental or physical problems. And that’s why many people get confused between them. But once you learn more about them, you will see the difference clearly.
Read also: How does gardening help your mental health
Myth 2. You can not apply for an ESA letter online
This couldn’t be further from the truth. You can easily apply for an ESA letter with the help of online services. While it is entirely legal to do so, there may be differences in rules from one state to another. But, getting an ESA letter online is completely legitimate.
The only thing you need to take care of is to use the services that are HIPAA compliant. Look for a company that uses HIPAA compliant services to avoid falling for any trap. Other than this, your letter should be signed by a licensed mental health professional. With this, you will get the rightful ESA ownership.
Myth 3. Anyone can get an ESA
Emotional support animals provide support and comfort to people with some sort of mental or psychological issues. While anyone looking for emotional support can apply to make their pet an ESA, not everyone can qualify for one. Also, not every pet is eligible to become an emotional support animal.
You need to get your mental health evaluated by a licensed mental health professional. This herpes in understanding whether an ESA is really needed or not. There are a few conditions or issues for which a person can surely qualify for the ESA. These are –
- Panic attacks
- Suicidal thoughts
- Stress, fear, and anxiety
- PTSD or emotional trauma
- Bipolar disorder
- Depression, etc.
Also, you need to be 18 years old or above to qualify for the ESA. And if you are, only the licensed mental health professional can tell whether you qualify for the ESA or not.
Myth 4. ESA pets can enter any public place
Once again, people tend to believe this one mainly because of the confusion between service animals and ESAs. Service animals have different rights from ESAs. While service dogs can enter any public place, ESAs can only get access to pet-friendly places. ESAs are not allowed to enter places such as shopping malls, restaurants, hotels, etc.
Other than that, you may have to pay an extra fee if you want to enter some public facilities with your ESAs. So, you can try and find some pet-friendly locations to visit with your ESA pets. Also, your pet should behave well in public places where they can enter.
Myth 5. ESA pets are required to wear a special vest
Unfortunately, some people believe that they need to buy special vests for their ESA pets. They think ESAs need to wear vests to show their status as ESAs. But the truth is that it is your choice whether you want any outfit for your ESA or not.
The only thing that proves that your pet is an emotional support animal is the ESA letter. This letter should be signed by a licensed mental health professional. So, you don’t have to worry about getting special vests for your ESA pets. However, if you want to dress your pet on Christmas or Halloween, go ahead and get a cute dress!
Having an emotional support animal accompanying you is beneficial in many ways. These animals can bring astonishing results for people who choose them as a type of therapy. But not having the correct information about them can make people misjudge them.