Humans have understood the importance of animal companions for thousands of years, starting with the domestication of dogs. Over time, the relationship has only gotten closer and more special. If you’re wondering whether you need an emotional support animal (ESA), the answer is a resounding yes. This article will cover various reasons why this decision will improve your mental and physical health.
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ESAs Vs. Service Animals: What’s the Difference?
You might get a little confused about these two types of animals. The key similarity is that they both offer emotional support and much needed physical companionship to their owners. Before picking an ESA, ensure you understand the differences between it and a service animal.
One of them involves functionality. While both provide emotional support, service animals are specially trained to perform specific tasks. They include guiding blind owners, fetching medication, and pulling wheelchairs. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) offers legal protection to service animals due to the specialized care they provide.
ESAs and service animals also have separate certifications. While service animal owners need an agency to help them pick a trained dog, the process isn’t as complicated for emotional support animals. Your beloved pet can also conveniently double as your ESA.
This designation means it will keep you calm on flights and other establishments that otherwise shun pets. The procedure for ESA letters is easier and faster than that of service animal certification.
Benefits of Emotional Support Animals
Official statistics indicate that nearly 20% of Americans suffer from mental illness. Emotional support animals are an important part of therapy due to the immense benefits they offer. These special animals help you in the following ways:
1. They help with dopamine production: Your anti-anxiety medication helps you increase serotonin production, a chemical that improves your moods. Having an emotional support animal also helps increase dopamine, a neurotransmitter that makes you more likely to love and care for others. Although they’re not a stand-alone form of therapy, ESAs integrate smoothly with various treatment plans.
2. Their love is unconditional: You don’t have to keep wondering whether your animal companion loves you. Unlike human acquaintances, your ESA offers you undivided attention. It helps get rid of loneliness, a big contributor to anxiety, depression, and other mental issues. Other activities, such as dog walk also allow you to experience a change of scenery and a range of beneficial emotions.
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3. They help manage extreme emotions: ESAs help you control agitation, fear, anxiety, and other extreme emotions. Animals can sense your uneasiness and make you feel calm through their affection, neutral mental state, and physical availability. This makes it easier for you to recalibrate your emotions accordingly.
4. They improve your social life and physical health: By merely walking your pet, you can enjoy conversations you wouldn’t otherwise have with other pet owners and curious people. Some might lead to long-lasting and fulfilling friendships. As you walk your pet, you also get some much-needed physical exercise. Workouts are a viable form of therapy against stress, depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems.
Where Can You Take Your ESA?
Having an ESA letter helps you navigate life’s challenges more comfortably. You’ll have a hard time taking your pet to some businesses and public places since federal law doesn’t protect ESAs like it does service animals. Hotels, Camps, and other forms of temporary accommodation enforce strict no-pet policies that apply to ESAs as well. Before making travel plans, ensure your ideal getaway is pet friendly.
The Fair Housing Act forbids landlords from charging you extra for having an emotional support animal. However, these waivers are subject to your pet companion behaving in a way that doesn’t interfere with other tenants.
Federal law requires college dorms and halls of residence to make accommodations for students with ESAs. Failure to do so might result in financial penalties on the non-compliant institution.
The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) also allows ESAs to accommodate their owners on flights without extra charges. This permission is subject to having proper documentation. Other than a valid ESA letter, you must show proof of ongoing treatment from your mental health physician.
If the airline deems your documentation invalid, your ESA will travel in the pet area of the cargo section instead of the cabin. Other businesses, such as restaurants and stores, reserve the right to allow or reject your emotional support animal. If you must take it to such establishments, let management know that it’s not a regular pet but a well-behaved emotional companion.
The same terms apply in the workplace. You might be allowed to bring your ESA to work so long as you properly potty train it. You must also keep a watchful eye on your emotional support animal at all times.
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At EZCare, we treat anxiety and other conditions whose positive outcomes are made better by emotional support animals. We also offer ESA letters to make life more comfortable for you and your pet companion. You’ll receive this certification after evaluation by our skilled, California-licensed doctors.
Please make an appointment with us today for more information on all its benefits.