Emotional Support Animals (ESA) are available in all shapes, sizes, and varieties. They serve as companion animals that support their handlers or owners with emotional disabilities or impairment, including depression and anxiety. Hence, they are not limited to just dogs and cats.
What is the difference between an Emotional Support Animal and a pet?
It is important to know that any animal can become an ESA in the United States by registering her for the ESA animal certification online.
A tremendous advantage of having an ESA is that your landlord cannot penalise you or deny your ESA from living with you.
They can also travel with you, provided that you have authentic documentation to prove that your pet is an ESA.
A true ESA does a lot more than a conventional pet. She becomes an important part of your family and relies on you for support in return for her affection and companionship.
ESAs help individuals who are dealing with painful life events, have had an accident, or simply need someone close to them.
Benefits of an ESA
ESAs have proven to yield many benefits – improving the mental and physical health of patients. The top three benefits of keeping ESAs are:
1. Relieves stress
ESAs have been recognized as stress busters. People who own pets are generally able to overcome feelings of depression, stress, and anxiety more easily than those without.
Past studies have shown that people who own pets are less likely to experience suicidal or negative emotions. That’s because people feel safe and more positive when they have their pet or ESA around them.
Whether the ESA is a dog or an aquarium filled with colourful floating fish, they can calm the nerves of mentally unwell people.
Also, when people take care of their pets, they feel valued and responsible, which helps them kick out stress from their lives and gain self-esteem.
2. Improves health
Pets have been associated with several health benefits. That is why keeping an ESA has numerous benefits not just for the mental but physical health of people.
It is scientifically proven that keeping a cat or a dog reduces chances of cardiovascular problems and strokes. ESAs also help people recover from their illnesses or accidents. They help you maintain a physically active routine, which also stimulates your mind.
3. Increases activity
Keeping an ESA means you have to be on your feet often. If you have a cat, you need to feed her several times a day and if you have a dog, you will need to bring her for long walks.
Simply put, in order to give your ESA the best care, you are taking the first step to beat lethargy and stay fit and active.
- Increases social networking
- Boosts self-confidence
- Having someone who loves you unconditionally
How to test whether an animal is suitable to be an ESA
Animal temperament evaluations are crucial to evaluate how the animal deals with different situations and his behaviour towards other people.
Moreover, these tests also analyse the animal’s ability to interact with a small crowd without posing a danger, walk on a leash, and respond to a few basic obedience commands.
Failing a temperament evaluation does not interfere with the right of owning a pet and keeping her in your home as an ESA because the US law allows it. However, appropriate training will be beneficial for everyone.
You can find qualified animal temperament evaluators through several national organizations. They are also frequently used in hospitals, nursing homes, and medical facilities to provide people (particularly children) emotional comfort and support.