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Emotional Support Animals – Separating Fact from Fiction

For people grappling with a disabling mental disorder, an emotional support animal (ESA) can provide healing through natural pet therapy. Unfortunately, there are a lot of myths about emotional support dogs. So, we are here to clear some of those myths up.

Fiction:

They are the Same as Service Animals  

Many people believe that emotional support animals are the same as trained service animals. However, they are not the same. According to the ADA, service animals are dogs trained to perform tasks and/or do work for people with disabilities. People with mental illness could have service animals if they qualify. For example, a service dog could help their owner who is suffering from a mental illness take their medication. Or, a service dog can get training to calm a person with post-traumatic stress disorder during an anxiety attack. They can sense before the attack occurs, therefore, reducing the amount and duration of episodes.  Make sure the Service Dog is on a leash or tethered, because they are highly skilled and trained. 

An emotional support dog, provides emotional support and companionship to a person with a mental illness. Meanwhile, Emotional support animals can be a dog, cat, bird or another type of pet. This animal provides an emotional benefit to the person with the mental illness. Furthermore, training is not a requirement by law for emotional support animals. Although basic behavioral training is ideal. 

Anyone Can Label Their Pet As An Emotional Support Animal

It is a myth that anyone can designate their pets as an emotional support animal. You must have a qualifying emotional or mental disorder to get an emotional support animal (ESA). You’ll need to get an emotional support letter or ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional. See if you qualify for an ESA letter.  

To get an ESA letter, you’ll need to complete an online exam and have a doctor review your file to see if you qualify. It is generally pretty quick and easy to take the test and determine if you are eligible.

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Fact:

Landlords & Airlines Cannot Discriminate Against People With Emotional Support Animals  

An emotional support animal is considered to be a “reasonable accommodation” under the federal government’s Fair Housing Act. In other words, even if your apartment has a “no pets” rule, the landlord cannot keep you from having your emotional support pet live with you. The landlord will face sueing charges for discrimination. they cannot refuse to accommodate pet housing. Your ESA has the right to live with you. Especially, if you are qualified and have the correct documentation. A New York landlord was sued by a tenant and fined more than $15,000 after he refused to allow an emotionally ill tenant keep her emotional support dog. ESAs can board the airlines and with their owner now, via a federal law! 

For more information about getting an ESA housing and travel letter, contact American Service Pets today. Or see if you qualify by filling out this convenient form anytime day or night in the comfort of your own home. 

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