Choosing a Service or Support Animal

16 May

Choosing a Service or Support Animal


It seems today that everyone has a support animal.  You see them in stores and in restaurants.  Yet before you go out and get that snugly support squirrel, it’s good to know the facts.  What is the difference between a support animal and a service animal?  It is also importance to know how to go about the process.

Emotional support animals are there to support you if you are suffering from a mental or emotional disability.  These animals need very little training.  These animals need to be well behaved.  They need to be fully house broken. The animal also needs to be well behaved around other people such as neighbors and family.  Too much barking and being a danger is a definite no no when choosing a support animal.

A service animal is more complicated.  These animals are there if you have a visual impairment, mobile impairment, hearing impairment, seizures, PTSD and diabetes.  These dogs go through rigorous training to help with normal everyday tasks and activities.

Emotional support animals or ESA’s must be prescribed only by a mental health care professional.  The doctor will prescribe you with an ESA letter.  This letter must be on letter head and state the condition which the ESA was prescribed. The ESA letter also cannot more than a year old.  ESA’s are not required to wear vests like service animals so if you are prescribed an ESA you need to carry the letter with you at all times.

So before you go run out and get your emotional support turkey, you need to know the rules.  There are many public establishments that are pet friendly such as restaurants, hotels and stores.  Yet unlike service animals that are trained, they are not required by law to allow them. It is important to check with your hotel beforehand.

Under the Fair Housing act and America Disabilities act require that anyone prescribed with an ESA be allowed to fly with their animal.  Like public places these also have rules.  Some airlines will require you to give them 48 hours’ notice before boarding your plane.  There is also a limit to no more than two animals you can bring on a plane.

If you are not a homeowner and are a renter, the Fair Housing Act allows you to keep your ESA.  You are also exempt from pet deposits and fees.  ESA’s are also allowed in common areas such as pools and courtyards.

With the rise of anxiety and depression in this country, so do the rise of scammers for ESA’s.  This is especially true for the online community.  One way to definitely protect you from scammer is to follow some important tips.  Like me, before I wrote this, I googled support animals.  One site came up right away.  I placed this link in my document for research.  Yet as I did more research, I found it was a scam.  The first thing to note is that the only way to get an ESA letter is by talking to a licensed mental health professional.  This can be done in person, over the phone or through Skype.  Your ESA does not have to be registered.  If you google ESA and the site asks to register, this is a scam.  The only thing you need is an ESA letter.  This letter, MUST be written by a licensed mental health professional.  This letter again must be printed on letter head.  The letter must have a license number, the issue and the expiration date.  The letter must also have the name, size, breed and type.   Also, if the site gives you quick approval, asks you to register and is cheap, know that this is a scam.

These tips will help you get the emotional support you need whichever type of animal you choose.

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