Emotional Support Animals

Almost everyone loves animals, but they take on a special meaning to someone who is disabled, whether that disability is physical, emotional or mental. Emotionally support animals (ESA) are the ones that help people feel at ease when they experience feelings of anxiety, depression, phobias, symptoms of ADD or PTSD or that have a learning disability.

So, there are many things to consider when bringing an animal into your life under these circumstances. Unlike physically disabled individuals that need a service animal to perform physical activities they cannot, ESA help ease negative feelings and help its owners stay calm.

Choosing an Emotional Support Animal

One of the most important things people fail to understand is that, much like service animals, ESAs are not pets, they provide assistance. As such, they can accompany their owners in airplane cabins and can even live in housing units that don't allow pets. 

Emotional animals can be:
  • cats
  • dogs
  • birds or chicken
  • rodents
  • reptiles
  • miniature horses

For instance, you may find that a cat is just too aloof for you, but that you can make a deep emotional connection with a dog. What's more, you may feel when looking into the eyes of a boxer you sense empathy, but maybe not from a poodle. The animal you choose really depends on you and should be based on your lifestyle.

Though a bird may not have been first on your list of considerations, it turns out that they are actually quite empathetic and respond quickly to their owners’ feelings of anger, stress or tension. They are small (which means they could easily be kept close) and intelligent. Also, some types of birds are able to communicate in your own language.

Consider your lifestyle and how much time you have to give to tend to its needs. This will have to be a two-way street with the emotional support animal helping you and you helping it, providing love and attention as well as food and shelter.

That being the case, you should consider your budget and free time. Some animals such as horses will require more maintenance. Also, some animals require more personal attention than others. A dog seems to need more hands-on attention than a cat or a bird. 

Your new emotional support animal will definitely make your life much richer as they are well known to benefit anyone suffering from depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and even certain phobias. Choose well and enjoy your new friend.

How to Register an ESA

To be allowed to board your animal in a plane and live in non-pet housing, you need to request a letter from a licensed health care professional, indicating that you have a disability and that having the animal with you can help ease the symptoms.

The letter must also have the professional's letterhead to be considered valid. 

Consider purchasing an ESA vest and tags to make sure the animal can be easily identified and avoid unnecessary confusion from the people around you.