Psychiatric service dogs (PSDs) have been used for years and years to assist people with mental disabilities. Many people with disabilities have had these dogs help them to become more independent. You may be wondering if you qualify for a PSD. If you are considering having a PSD, it is important to know that there are many factors that will determine if you are eligible for one. This article will give you a better understanding of the qualifications for a PSD.
What is a Psychiatric Service Dog?
A psychiatric service dog provides companionship, assistance, and emotional support that benefits people with psychiatric disabilities. They are specifically trained to recognize when a person has an episode of illness and help calm them down.
PSDs can be used by those with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, PTSD, and other conditions that can cause anxiety or delusions. They can help their owners by becoming a stable support system when their owners are out and about. For example, if a person is having a manic episode, they can call the dog to help calm them down. This can reduce the chances of the person hurting themselves or others.
It’s important to remember that a PSD is not the same as an emotional support animal (ESA). An ESA is a pet that provides comfort and companionship to their owner. An ESA does not have any special training or certification, and their purpose is to provide emotional support. They do not have any specific duties to perform for their owner. A PSD is a dog that has been specially trained for its specific duties.
What are the Qualifications to Own a PSD
To qualify for a PSD, you must have a disability that causes mental distress. The stress or anxiety caused by your disability must be so severe that it interferes with your ability to function normally. Who can decide if your condition calls for the need of a PSD? Well, it can be your healthcare provider, for example. It can also just be any licensed mental health professional (LMHP) who lives in the same state that you do.
Aside from having the conditions that require you to own a PSD, you also must be available throughout the dog’s training period. This means that you must be able to be present enough for the dog to familiarize itself with you. Aside from that, it is also important that you can actually afford the cost of owning a PSD. Although the cost of maintenance of a PSD is not covered by Medicare or Medicaid, there are many organizations that can help alleviate some of the cost for you.
Alternatives to Owning a PSD
If you don’t qualify for a PSD, there are other alternatives that you can consider. These alternatives include getting an emotional support animal instead of a psychiatric service dog. Getting an emotional support animal is easier because there are less requirements to meet. You can get an emotional support animal from any local veterinarian, as long as you can prove that your pet is necessary to help with your condition. Furthermore, an emotional support animal does not require training or certification at all.