Owning a pet has many benefits, including emotional support. Some pets, however, become officially designated emotional support animals (ESAs). How do pets get this extra-special badge of honor? Does it have any legal teeth? How are emotional support animals similar to, and different from, service animals?
What Is an Emotional Support Animal?
While service animals perform tasks to aid people with physical disabilities, emotional support animals aid people with diagnosed psychological disabilities (such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder). If you or someone you know has such a condition, having a pet designated as an emotional support animal gives you special air travel and housing privileges.
How do you get your pet verified as an emotional support animal? The same doctor who diagnosed your disability can either designate your pet as an ESA, or prescribe you a pet. You heard that right – you can be prescribed a puppy.
How Compassionate Crowdfunding Can Help
Of course, pets can be expensive. If you’re prescribed a puppy, the first year (according to the ASPCA) will cost you an average of $1,270. A kitten will cost you $1,070.
This is where YouCaring’s Compassionate Crowdfunding™ comes in. When Aunt Beatrice can’t afford the pet she’s been prescribed for emotional support, our platform makes it easy (and free) to pass the hat among family and friends.
The Many Benefits of ESAs
An official emotional support animal can offer several benefits:
- Costs associated with your pet can be deductible medical expenses.
- Airlines must accommodate emotional support animals without extra fees.
- The Fair Housing Act (FHA) prohibits landlords from denying housing to or collecting pet fees from, people with emotional support animals. There are some exceptions – you can find out more here.
Last but not least, if your emotional support animal is a dog, you might be wondering if she needs to wear a vest identifying her as an ESA. The answer is no – though such a vest can (stylishly) signal her special status to the public.
My husband and I purchased Gypsy for my mother as a way to help pull her out of some depression. AND IT WORKED! This cute little bird gave her life, a purpose, something for JUST HER. She cared for Gypsy daily, talked to her, played with her, etc. This small exotic animal has become my mother’s companion.
My cat Emily and I have such a tight bond. Whenever I’m having an attack and I’m home alone, she will sit on my chest and rub my face with her nose until I calm down. Just sitting and petting my cat calms me enough to continue with my day. Before this, if I had a panic attack I’d be out of commission the whole day. Emily gives me the motivation to get out and get my life back.