Emotional support animals (ESAs) are domesticated animals that offer support and comfort to an individual going through emotional difficulties owing to various mental/emotional conditions. They are not required to carry out specific tasks for a disability, unlike service animals, and are merely meant for unconditional love and emotional stability. ESAs can help alleviate symptoms of numerous conditions including:
- Mood disorders/bipolar
- Substance abuse (drug, alcohol, and other items)
- Gender identity crisis
- Mental retardation
- Learning disorders
- Tic disorders
- Motor skills disorder
- Suicidal tendencies
- Multiple Personality Disorder
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
- Panic disorder
- Psychotic disorders
- Separation anxiety
- Impulse-control disorders
- Eating disorders
- Somatoform disorders
- Sleep disorders
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
- Neurodevelopmental Disorders
- Social anxiety
- Postpartum disorder
- Factitious disorders
- Seasonal Affective Disorder
- Dissociative disorders
Have An Emotional Support Animal? You’re Not Alone
Approximately 6.1 million people in the US alone suffer from some type of mental or emotional disability, and according to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in every 4 American adults have some form of cognitive disability. If you are experiencing any of the above mentioned conditions, you can register your ESA easily. All you need is to find a doctor or a licensed mental health professional who can confirm your struggle with the condition. This is where an ESA paperwork comes into play, which primarily consists of the following important details:
- It states your mental condition and the fact that you are a patient of the verifying mental health expert
- It explains you are under the same expert’s treatment and care of your condition.
- It states that you are significantly limited when it comes to carrying out or taking part in at least one of the day-to-day activities due to your emotional disability.
- It states that your caregiver has prescribed an ESA for you as part of your overall treatment plan to help you cope with your condition in a better way.
Keep in mind that the doctor’s note should be current and dated no later than 12 months from the date of departure.
Importance of an Proper Paperwork
If you have an emotional support animal, you will need the proper paperwork confirming its status for various people to refer to, including airlines staff, landlords, and managers, or anyone else requiring verification about your disability. The especially comes in handy when:
- Traveling By Air: The Air Carrier Access Act allows owners to carry their ESAs on board with them when travelling by air. Again, you will need a valid prescription. Another important determining factor will be your pet’s behavior. Even though ESAs do not require training, they are still expected to behave well in public areas.
- Renting A Home: The Fair Housing Amendments Act permits owners to live with their ESA even when the residence or building they are living in is not pet-friendly. Building landlords or managers are obligated by law to not turn down an emotional support animal. However, as an ESA owner, you are still required to show a current letter authenticated by a licensed health expert prescribing you an ESA.
- Visiting a Public Place: Some public places, like restaurants, hotels, and shopping places, only allow certain types of ESAs. In this case, you will need some kind of proof that your pet is an ESA in order to gain access to the public place.