The term ‘emotional support animal‘ or ESA is a new term, not all persons are familiar with. If you feel you qualify for a certification, which will allow you to take your pet with on travels, there is a process you must follow. These are some of the common questions asked when one considers having their pet certified as an ESA.
What is an ESA (Emotion Support Animal)?
Anxiety and stress are common mental issues people suffer today. These emotional disorders can be a result of a traumatic event that has occurred or simply your personality and your difficulty in handling day-to-day activities. Some medications can help some people deal with these emotions; for others, they need companionship to help them deal with situations. These companions are your emotional support animal or ESA.
Emotional support animals are pets that serve as your companion to help comfort you and get you through events by calming your emotions. Studies have proven pets are able to minimize a person’s negative symptoms. Therapists, psychologists, and other mental health professionals can prescribe an ESA for their patients who they feel will benefit from having a companion pet with them throughout the day.
Which Pets qualify for ESA?
An emotional support animal is any domesticated pet that does not require training. Their role as an ESA is mainly to be in your presence to reduce your emotional upset or psychological disability. The only training they would require is to be able to be in public settings with acceptable behaviors.
There has been a significant amount of abuse concerning the ESA program. This abuse is making it difficult for mental health professionals to know which pets work best as there have been concerns on which pets should safely be allowed on commercial airlines.
How to Qualify for an ESA
ESA certification is much like obtaining a prescription from your medical doctor. Just like a prescription, an ESA cannot legally be used unless it has been determined by a medical professional that you suffer from a qualifying health condition. A qualifying health condition can include suffering from depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, or other qualifying mental health condition your physician feels an ESA will address.
How to Register an Emotional Support Animal
An ESA or emotional support animal is different than a service animal which has been trained to detect specific medical conditions. Registering an ESA is done by receiving a letter from a mental health professional, which states you require the presence of your ESA due to a qualifying emotional disability. These letters are typically valid for one year from when they are issued.
Having your pet registered as your ESA is a voluntary process; however, without a letter of recognition by a mental health professional, you cannot legally take your animal into specific areas.
Legal Rights Associated with ESAs
Once you have received recognition from a mental health professional stating it serves your emotional needs to have an ESA accompany you, there are legal protections in place:
Housing Rights- With a qualifying letter of recognition for an ESA, you are allowed to have a pet in your residence even if it is designated as a ‘no pet’ housing development.
Air Travel-When you have the qualifying document from your mental health professional for an ESA, you are allowed to bring your pet into the aircraft cabin. Always contact your airline before the departure date to learn their specific rules regarding this privilege.
Public Places-Private entities or commercial buildings that have posted there are no pets allowed do not have to permit ESAs in under the law. Because an ESA is not trained as a ‘service animal,’ restaurants, hotels, and other public places do not have to allow them to enter. Check ahead if you are planning to visit these places to learn their individual rules.
The ESA process is in place to help people through what they find emotional events. These pets help to keep you calmer and more able to deal with stress or activities that cause anxiety. ESAs also help you to deal with depression and other emotional life events.
Emotional support animals follow their owners to areas that are off-limits to other pets. This is because they’re recommended as a treatment for mental afflictions like anxiety, depression, even PTSD. Not to be mistaken for service animals. The main distinction is its functions.
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While ESAs are companions, service animals help their disabled handlers with duties such as answering the door, carrying medicine, and guiding their movement. ESAs don’t need extra conditioning like their service counterparts whose training ranges from heeling, proofing, and performing specific tasks. Another difference is their certification. Your disability should match the ADA description for your service animal to be recognized. Conversely, an ESA letter is provided by your therapist.
How ESAs Improve Your Travel Experience
By lifting your mood, support animals eliminate the need for anxiety medication on your journey. Pills may be effective, but you’ll still have side effects like fatigue and nausea. Furthermore, they act as distractions during long trips. Instead of worrying, your mind is occupied by the animal.
The fact that you have another creature to care for besides yourself gives you purpose. They thought of bonding with your pet may make an otherwise reserved person crave for adventure. ESAs also spark conversations between strangers. This is especially true for moments packed with tension like turbulence.
Travel Necessities for Your ESA
Traveling with their handlers gives ESAs an edge over ordinary pets. If you think moving with an animal is stressful, try it with a mental condition. Here are some trip essentials regardless of your mode of transport.
Things to pack while travelling
5 Things to Pack While Travelling
1. ESA Letter
An ESA letter is mandatory for any support animal in a plane cabin. For the document to be valid, however, it must fulfill the following specifications.
The letter is on your issuing therapist’s letterhead.
You’re currently under a licensed professional’s care.
The letter contains the license date, type, and issuing state.
Your illness is found in the DSM.
You need the ESA for the trip or destination.
The document requires an annual update.
Ensure you alert the airline beforehand. Initially, you could show up with your pet without an announcement. The rules have since changed with most carriers requiring a 48-hour notice. Again, check your destination’s guidelines regarding support animals. Not all countries allow ESAs from foreign lands.
2. Travel Crate
Apart from transportation, a travel crate protects your furry companion from harsh conditions like snow and rain. You’ll have to train your ESA if they’ve never experienced a carrier. In the initial stages, don’t lock the crate with the animal inside. The idea is viewing it as a safe space instead of a punishment. Likewise, put the case in the room your pet spends most of their time. Putting treats in the cage or feeding them next to it will keep your ESA interested.
You can add blankets and toys to give the container a homely feel when on the move. Similarly, secure the cage to the seat or hold it to prevent the ESA from shifting. While at it, ensure your support creature gets sufficient air to prevent suffocation. You can do this by ditching the layovers during summer and getting a container with better ventilation. Although they come in different sizes, some animals are too big for a carrier. That’s where leashes come in.
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The crowds in airports and train stations are bound to stress your ESA. That’s why you need a leash to guide their movement and protect other travelers together with their belongings and animals from attack. But your pet isn’t the only cause of danger. For starters, your unrestrained dog might get run over if it wanders away in a bus station.
It could also contract diseases after sniffing another animal’s droppings. Chains also make it easier to locate you in case your ESA gets lost. Most leashes include a tag for writing your identification details. Moreover, the restraint also makes your pet harder to steal. From resale and breeding to ransoms and fighting rings, animal theft is motivated by several reasons. Most importantly, the law demands you leash your animal.
Games to play with dog
How to Keep Your Dog Entertained on a Road Trip?
Repay your animal’s emotional support by keeping them comfortable. Though the airline can organize a special seat on request, your pup will be more settled in familiar bedding. If your pet doesn’t have a bed already, prioritize the quality of materials when shopping. Substandard fabrics are not only uncomfortable but also less durable.
The size is also crucial. While a small bed will tire your ESA, a larger one is difficult to move. Even so, some models have straps and clips for portability. Surfaces that absorb moisture will develop an odor from the animal’s urine. This calls for a mild water-repelling spray.
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At EZCare Clinic, we recognize the role of ESAs in your psychological wellbeing. We specialize in numerous areas, for example, addiction treatment, nutrition, cosmetic services, pain management, mental, and sexual health. You deserve to live free, reach us for an appointment today.