May 29, 2019 5 min read 0 Comments
We all know just how animals can provide joy and companionship in our lives. And we are finding out just how people with mental problems and disabilities are also relying on these wonderful animal companions so they don’t have to ‘walk’ alone.
Animals used as animal companions are called emotional support animals or ESAs. This group of special animals is growing in popularity over the years, as anxiety and mental issues continue to rise, amongst adults and also children. The job of these animals is to offer companionship, love, and support that will alleviate aspects of anxiety, loneliness, and despair. Dogs are most commonly used to act as emotional support animals, but cats are becoming quite common as well.
Sometimes other animals are used such as horses and others. On one occasion, a peacock made headlines because it was denied from being admitted onto a United Airlines flight. The owner explained that the peacock was an emotional support animal. There is no special type of animal that becomes an emotional support animal; all kinds of animals fly with their owners and records show that pigs, ducks, turkeys, monkeys, all have been used to offer support and companionship to people who need this link with animal friends.
Even though emotional support dogs offer support through their companionship in that they help with the easing of depression, anxiety, and certain phobias, there is a difference between ESA dogs and service dogs. This means ESA dogs and other animals used for this purpose do not have the same rights.
Service dogs, for example, such as guide dogs for the blind, are generally allowed anywhere in the public, whereas ESAs are not. ESA dogs can’t just accompany their owners into shopping malls, or restaurants, or stadiums, that type of thing.
TheAmericans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines what service animals are. It says they are “dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.” The act states that animals which simply provide emotional comfort don’t qualify as service animals under the ADA.
There are some states and local laws that have broader descriptions. If you are concerned, then be sure to check with your local government agencies to learn if ESAs qualify for public access in your areas.
The fact remains that the key difference between a service dog and an ESA is in the animal’s training. Usually, service dogs have been trained specifically to perform certain tasks related to a person’s disability, for example, the guide dogs for the visually impaired person – the dog is trained to walk around an obstacle, to stop at red traffic lights, etc.
A dog which acts as comforter, in other words, when an anxious person reaches out to cuddle a dog when perplexed or under extreme anxiousness – this type of emotional support does not qualify as a dog performing its tasks – it has not been trained to perform a task or service; it is merely a companion offering emotional support which is not a qualification that the dog is performing a task. A dog is a companion and emotional supporter to anyone in all circumstances – no what their circumstances are.
It is pretty inherent that if your dog or whatever pet you have is expected to provide a service for you, it is a top priority that you ensure the best care for them, right? You can’t mess around when it comes to a dog or a cat’s, any animal’s health, just as you take care of your own - and therefore it is important that you give them the best love, TLC, top quality food, and care possible for the outstanding service they deliver – it works both ways!