An emotional support animal is a companion animal that provides emotional support to an individual with a mental or physical disability. In general, you can define an emotional support animal as an animal that can provide therapeutic benefits to a person with a disability. These animals fall under the category of assistance animals, although they are not the exact same as others.
For one, emotional support animals are not the same as service animals. Service animals assist their owners with specific tasks, whereas emotional support animals are meant to provide comfort and emotional support. Additionally, service animals must be trained to perform specific tasks for their owners, whereas emotional support animals are not required to be trained in any way. The main purpose of an emotional animal is to give their owner a sense of comfort, which in turn will help their owner cope with their disability.
Emotional support animals are often used by individuals with anxiety disorders, depression, and other mental conditions. In some cases, they can also be used by individuals who have physical disabilities that make it difficult for them to engage in activities that other people take for granted. The main benefit of an emotional support animal is that it allows the person with a disability to live a more fulfilling life.
However, there are certain requirements that must be met for a pet to be acknowledged as an emotional support animal by the state. The main checkbox to tick off is that you have the required certification.
Understanding Emotional Support Animal Certification in Missouri
Not any pet can automatically be labeled as an emotional support animal. The owner must have the extent of their conditions recognized, and they must own an ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional (LMHP) to prove this. For example, if you have depression, the LMHP must have diagnosed you with a depressive disorder. The LMHP must then write a letter stating that the animal will provide emotional support to you.
An ESA letter is useful as a proof of your pet’s status as an emotional support animal. It prevents regular pet owners from taking advantage of the law, which can potentially have dire consequences.
Thankfully, getting an ESA letter can be done as quickly as 24 hours. Still, you need to ensure that your ESA letter is valid. This is done by making sure the letter is written by an LMHP who is stationed in the same state as you. You also need to renew it yearly.
Having an ESA letter means you qualify under the Fair Housing Act. This means you can have your pet in your premises without landlords charging you an extra fee. With this law, disabled people have equal rights to have their pets in the premises.
However, Missouri is one of the states that do not offer as much protection to emotional support animals as they do to service animals. Therefore, if you think your pet would benefit from having the status of a service animal, you may be interested in getting them some training to qualify.
KyokoKyoko is from a family of 3 and moved to New York with her parents and siblings when she was 13. Kyoko is fond of spending a great amount of time with pets, specifically her beagle Luna and cat Missy. Her boyfriend often complains that she spends too much time giving attention to their animals. Kyoko has written dozens of articles concerning pets and is aiming at owning a pet shop one day!
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