What do you think about emotional-support animals?

EMOTIONAL-SUPPORT ANIMALS

The April 22, 2013 issue of TIME Magazine had a thought-provoking article about emotional-support animals (ESA), “Comfort Creatures: Support Animals Help Patients, but That Lizard May Be Against the Law.”

The National Service Animal Registry (NSAR) certifies service and emotional-support animals and has registered 7,000 of them since 1995. The NSAR certifies dogs, cats, pigs, birds, mice, rats, hedge hogs, iguanas, rabbits, and goats. These animals can then wear vests or patches and have ID cards to prove they are necessary to the people they serve.

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Mental health professionals can prescribe an animal’s companionship for patients to help them cope with emotional and psychological symptoms. But health departments can counteract the diagnosis with laws that restrict farm animals. Neighbors can and do report pet owners who they believe are keeping pets or traveling with them illegally.

According to the article there is a confusing gray area about what constitutes a service animal and who needs them. With physical disability, everyone can see why the person needs the animal. With emotional issues, the reasons for having a service animal may not be visible. “Complicating the issue further was the growing diversity of critters aiding people with physical disabilities: boa constrictors that warn their owners of oncoming seizures; capuchin monkeys that help quadriplegics eat and drink; parrots that verbally calm owners who suffer from bipolar disorder.”

Allen and Leaf

Allen and Leaf

The article doesn’t mention a further complication – people who make up their own vests and badges in order to self-certify a pet. Sometimes, this is due to the fact that someone with a disability is on a long waiting list to receive a professionally trained service animal or can’t afford to pay for one. Someone wrote to us that she couldn’t bear to be without her dog and had “faked” a vest that allowed the dog to go everywhere with her.

What do you think about emotional-support animals? Have you had an animal officially or informally who offered you so much emotional support that you had to have him or her with you everywhere?

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One thought on “What do you think about emotional-support animals?

  1. GREAT STORY! I am a firm believer in emotional support animals!! Although my cat doesn’t have her little badge and vest, she was truly sent from God to help me get thru SO much!! From 2 breast cancer battles, losing our K9 daughter who had blessed us with 12 1/2 amazing years, losing my Mom, who was my other best friend, Mom’s dog(my furry Sissy), both my grandmothers, my husband’s step-dad and grandfather, my husband’s job and a few other important furry family members. If I didn’t have Kitty to get me thru all of that and she continues to get me thru, I honestly think I would’ve had a nervous breakdown. She is truly my angel in a feline body and I love her SO VERY much. No matter how bad I feel, mentally or physically, she ALWAYS knows and ALWAYS makes me feel better! Kitty Sunshine certainly fits her name to a T!!

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