An emotional support animal is a special animal that is permitted to accompany a person with a disability who is under the care of a physician or licensed mental health professional. These animals provide comfort and support to those with mental disabilities.
A person can receive an emotional support animal letter from a physician or licensed mental health professional (LMHP) to verify that the person is indeed mentally disabled and needs an emotional support animal. With this ESA letter, their emotional support animal will then be able to accompany them to public places, such as restaurants, shopping malls, theaters, etc.
This letter must be renewed annually. If a person loses their ESA letter, they can reapply for a new one the following year. However, this time they will have to prove that they are still mentally disabled and in need of an emotional support animal.
What Qualifies as an Emotional Support Animal?
Aside from having an ESA letter, you may be curious as to what qualifies as an emotional support animal. Some may claim that assistance animals are restricted to dogs and cats, and perhaps miniature horses. However, this cannot be farther from the truth.
Such restrictions usually apply to service dogs, which is different from emotional support animals. Service dogs are trained to perform tasks that assist a person with a disability. These tasks may include retrieving items, pulling wheelchairs, alerting the person to sound or visual disturbances, or performing other specific tasks.
Emotional support animals are not trained to perform specific tasks for their owners. Instead, they provide their owners with comfort and companionship by helping them to participate in daily activities that they are able to do without assistance.
So, an emotional support animal can be just about any domesticated animal, so long as it provides a calming effect to the owner. Here are some of the top most common examples of emotional support animals:
Of course, dogs are probably the most common emotional support animals. The ESA letter is also required for dogs. Dogs are known to be very loyal and loving companions, and they have been known to have a calming effect on people with anxiety.
Cats are also common as emotional support animals. Cats can be used to calm people with anxiety disorders or other conditions. This is because some cats instinctively know how to keep their owners company without making them feel uncomfortable or stressed out. They are also calmer than other animals, such as dogs.
Surprisingly, ferrets have been known to provide comfort and companionship to their owners. They can be trained to act as an emotional support animal, provided that they are socialized from a young age and given adequate care and attention from their owners. They may be a good choice for those who cannot have other pets in their homes due to allergies or other factors.
Hedgehogs are also a common emotional support animal. They are very cute and loveable, which can make them popular choices for owners who want to use an emotional support animal but do not have the space for larger pets.
TomTom has always loved to write since he was little - he wanted to be either a writer or a veterinary doctor, but he ended up being a professional writer while most of his works are based on animals. He was born in San Francisco but later moved to Texas to continue his job as a writer. He graduated from the University of San Francisco where he studied biotechnology. He is happily married and a soon to be father!
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