Since emotional support animals have been recognized as a legal accommodation, the number of people who have qualifying disabilities has skyrocketed. As a result, there are now more dogs and cats in public places than ever before. Emotional support animals can be an incredible help to those with psychological, emotional, or mental disabilities, but they’re not for everyone! In this blog post, we’ll cover 9 things you need to know about getting your own emotional support animal.
9 Important Things to Consider Before Getting An Emotional Support Animal
They are not the same as service animals:
While they are both animals that provide support to their owner, service dogs are typically trained for specific tasks, while emotional support animals do not need specialized training. Plus, emotional support animals are a type of assistance-animal that’s covered by the Fair Housing Act and Americans with Disabilities Act, while service dogs can be either public or private pets. Make sure you also go through the emotional support animals laws in your state before getting one.
Getting your own is not as easy as it sounds:
There are some requirements to consider before getting an emotional support animal. First of all, you need a documented mental health issue from a psychologist, psychiatrist, or another healthcare professional who specializes in diagnosing these kinds of disabilities. In addition to meeting this requirement, you must have been living with your pet for at least six months before requesting documentation, so there will be plenty of time needed to observe their behavior around others. On top of these prerequisites for certification, they cannot be left alone during work hours without being taken.
Emotional Support Animals can be any species:
Unlike traditional service dogs, which must always be dogs or miniature horses, an ESA can also be a bird or another type of animal! So if you’re allergic but want the comfort and companionship of having your pet with you everywhere you go, an ESA may still work for you. These animals can also be found in a variety of sizes, so if you have trouble dealing with larger animals or are looking for something easy to carry around, then an ESA could work great for your needs.
Eligibility requires only a letter from your doctor:
Unlike traditional service dogs who require extensive training before being allowed into public spaces, anyone can get their own ESA simply by talking to their doctor about how much it will help them deal with their mental illness. The doctor will write a prescription, and that is all that it takes! Plus, the animal doesn’t even need any special training to be an ESA. In many cases, it’s as simple as providing a letter from your doctor.
Emotional support animals are not allowed everywhere you go:
There may be some places where your ESA could enter, but they have to follow certain rules before being allowed inside. This means you can’t take them on public transportation or into stores where food is prepared – even if the animal isn’t eating any of it! You’ll need to check with the location’s owner/management beforehand, so there aren’t any issues once you arrive. Some locations also require advance notice, while others require an extra fee for bringing your ESA along with you.
If an animal isn’t well-behaved:
While ESAs aren’t required to have any special training since it’s not a service dog, there are still minimum behavior standards that all pets should meet. These requirements vary by location, but most places will ask that your pet doesn’t bark excessively and leave waste behind for others to step on or clean up after them! In some cases, if these rules aren’t followed, then owners may face eviction, fines, and even lose custody altogether, so make sure you’re prepared to manage your ESA before bringing them into public!
Don’t assume your animal is automatically allowed:
Unfortunately, emotional support animals are often taken for granted, which can lead to some serious problems. As mentioned before, ESAs aren’t required to have any formal training, so it’s best not to take their presence for granted! While the law says that you’re entitled to bring them into most public places with you, they must be non-disabled and under control at all times.
This means no tying up outside of a store or leaving them inside your vehicle unattended – both of these things will get your ESA removed from the building promptly if caught by staff members! If this happens, then there may be instances where you’ll even face criminal charges depending on how severe the circumstances are!
You can’t just get an emotional support animal because you want one:
You must have a qualifying disability and get an ESA letter from your mental health professional to be covered by federal laws. If you try to bring one into a public place without this documentation, then not only will they refuse entry, but you could also face fines ranging from $100-$500 for lying on the ESA registration form! Moreover, emotional support animals are not allowed to fly for free with you. Instead, they have their own ticket that costs anywhere from $125-$250 depending on the airline!
A lot of red tape and paperwork is involved in getting an ESA:
It’s not unusual for the process to take months and sometimes even longer. First, you’ll need an ESA letter which your mental health professional will use to prescribe an emotional support animal (no other types of animals qualify). This can be difficult if they’re hesitant or unsure about prescribing them since there is no real training involved in having one!
It’s important to understand that emotional support animals are not allowed in every setting, and while they can be a big help, they’re certainly no replacement for therapy. ESA owners must keep their pets on leash or harness at all times when out in public places where dogs aren’t normally allowed — including restaurants, grocery stores, and movie theaters. It’s also against the law to take an emotional support animal into any business with a “no pet” policy, so it might require some extra talking (and convincing!) if you want your ESAs by your side during errands.
Conclusion: As you can see, getting an emotional support animal isn’t a decision to take lightly. If having one will be helpful for your mental health, then go right ahead.