If you have a furry friend who eases your anxiety, depression, or another ailment, you may be wondering if you can register them as an emotional support animal or service animal. This certification makes finding housing with your animal easier, potentially allows you to travel with your dog or cat, and may allow you to take your pet with you to other locations you wouldn’t normally be able to as well. Here are the qualifications you must meet for either certifying your animal as an emotional support animal or service animal.
Emotional Support Animal Qualifications
Emotional support animals can help provide support just by being a comforting and delightful presence. Having a creature there to listen to you and be by your side in your worst moments can lift your spirits. Having an animal that requires care, attention, and regular exercise can also help depressed individuals feel motivated to get out of bed and accomplish something because someone depends on them.
Emotional support animals can help relieve anxiety and panic attacks by laying on top of their owner in order to calm them. And that’s just the beginning of the list of benefits an emotional support animal can provide.
The first criteria you must meet is being diagnosed with a mental illness. You will have to work with a therapist or other medical professional to be diagnosed. Next, you will have to discuss with your mental health professional if having an emotional support animal is the right choice for you.
If you think an emotional support animal would benefit you and your mental health professional agrees with you, then they will write you a letter of certification.
This letter of certification signifies your animal as an official emotional support animal and means that under the Fair Housing Act, you will be able to live with your emotional support animal regardless of pet policy and without having to pay any extra pet fees. This is the main benefit of having a letter of certification. You cannot travel for free with your emotional support animal or take it into public places like you would with a service animal.
Service Animal Qualifications
A service animal is defined as a dog that performs a specific task in relation to its owner’s mental or physical disability. This can fall under the category of psychiatric service dogs, who perform tasks related to their owner’s mental disability. Service animals are protected under the American Disability Association (ADA), and they are treated as necessary medical equipment, meaning you can take them virtually anywhere.
Tasks can include reminding the owner to take medication, interrupting repetitive self-harming behaviors, waking up the owner from nightmares, stabilizing and providing protection for someone with anxiety or panic attacks, and more.
In order to qualify for a service animal, you must have a disability or illness diagnosed by a medical professional. You must then discuss with this medical professional if a service animal is the right choice for you. If they agree that it is, they will write you a letter of certification for your service animal.
Next, you must either train a dog to be a service animal by yourself or with a professional’s help or find an already trained one. They must be trained to perform the task you need them to perform and also be conditioned to handle the stressful, chaotic environments that they may find themselves in, such as public stores, airports, or restaurants.
In conclusion, getting an emotional support animal or service animal is a big choice but can be hugely beneficial. If you have a diagnosed mental health issue, you likely qualify for an emotional support animal or service animal. Here at United Support Animal, we have a team of professionals who can discuss this topic with you and write you a letter of certification for your emotional support animal or service animal. Contact us today to get started!