An emotional support animal is a companion that can provide emotional and therapeutic benefits to those suffering with emotional issues, anxiety, or psychiatric problems. ESAs are usually cats or dogs, but can be other animals too, and can be registered through the Emotional Support Animal Registration of America. To obtain an ESA, under federal law, one must have a note from a licensed mental health counselor stating the person has a condition that qualifies for the benefit of having an ESA.
ESAs benefit individuals in a variety of ways; they help lift spirits, lessen depression, lower feelings of isolation and alienation, encourage communication, provide comfort, increase socialization, lessen boredom, reduce anxiety, and aid children to overcome speech and emotional disorders. There are a plethora of benefits, but the most important one is that ESAs can save lives. Some individuals who may have one or more of these disorders may feel as though they have nothing to live for, but an emotional support animal can give them a new outlook on life.
An ESA is different from a service animal, so a few trickier regulations are required. Emotional support animals are required to behave well in public and listen to their handlers without causing a disturbance. You are able to train your ESA at home, which will save you money on professional training. Finding housing can be a bit tricky when you have an emotional support animal, especially one that is not the typical cat or dog. If you do come across a housing facility willing to accept your ESA, remember there may be an additional charge. This also goes for flying with your ESA. Just make sure to look into rules and requirements when wanting to bring along your ESA.
Unusual But Great Emotional Support Animals:
- Pygmy Goats
- Pot-bellied Pigs
- Donkeys (specifically for children)
- Bearded Dragons
Conditions that may qualify you for an ESA:
• Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
• Generalized Anxiety Disorder
• Panic Disorder
• Separation Anxiety
• Mood Disorders
• Personality Disorders
• Social Anxiety Disorder
*These are common conditions associated with an ESA, but other conditions may qualify for one.
Written by: Hillary Griffin