Recently, emotional support animals (ESAs) have gained recognition for their therapeutic benefits. Animals provide a sense of companionship to individuals suffering from mental health problems. They lower your anxiety, alleviate loneliness, and boost your social engagement skills. Moreover, they can help people suffering from depression. However, getting an ESA isn’t easy, and you need to consider a few things before obtaining your animal companion. These factors will ensure your comfort and the animal’s well-being.
Consider the following factors to embark on a rewarding journey with your emotional support animal:
- You’ll be responsible for your ESA
After adopting the animal, you’ll be responsible for the ESA’s well-being. Are you prepared to take care of your emotional support buddy? Don’t forget that owning an animal is like having a child; you need to cater to its every single need. ESAs need regular exercise, attention, and social interaction. So, make time for your emotional support animal and dedicate enough time and energy to meet its needs.
- Get a medical professional’s approval
Just like a licensed medical professional writes you a prescription for drugs, a healthcare practitioner will issue you a document called the ESA letter recommending an emotional support animal for your well-being. You will show this document to your landlord for keeping your ESA in your home. An ESA letter is legitimate evidence that an emotional support pet is important to your health.
If you suffer from mental health issues, such as stress, anxiety, or depression, contact a professional. Getting an ESA letter for depression from a licensed medical practitioner is a straightforward process. You should contact relevant services to prequalify for your ESA letter and get this document as quickly as possible. An ESA letter makes you eligible to receive all the privileges promised to ESA owners!
- Make some adjustments to your home
Can you make the necessary arrangements in your house to welcome the ESA? For instance, your ESA may not be comfortable with your existing pets. Or, if you already have a dog, your emotional support canine may prefer to be the alpha male in the house. Similarly, you need to make sure that your ESA can live with kids without a problem.
- ESAs are different from service animals
While laypeople use the terms “ESAs” and “service dogs” interchangeably, these two animals are not the same. Service dogs are trained to perform specific services for their owners, for instance, guiding people with limited vision or supporting someone with mobility issues. ESAs, however, do not receive any such training. Also, emotional support animals don’t enjoy the same privileges service dogs enjoy and may face travel restrictions. So, don’t confuse your ESA with a service animal.
ESAs are mainly for companionship. They can help you overcome certain phobias and cope with depression.
- Training Your ESA
There’s no specialized training for your emotional support animal. However, it doesn’t mean your ESA should not be trained at all. An emotional support animal needs to be well-behaved so you may keep it at home and travel with it to social events. An animal with a history of aggressive behavior isn’t quite a good source of emotional support for its owner.
You need to ensure they are well-behaved, obedient, and capable of providing the necessary support. Seek professional assistance, if possible, for training and behavior management when needed.
- You can choose from different species
There are a wide variety of species to choose from in emotional support animals, such as cats, dogs, horses (miniature ones), hamsters, and other options. Similarly, fish, birds, snakes, and other animals can be your emotional support companions. Whether you’re fond of a small-sized animal or want a large one to keep you company, it’s up to you. However, it would be best if you considered your personality when making this decision. What type of animal would best suit your needs and lifestyle?
You must assess your mental health needs and other factors to find the best animal companion. Find a good match as per your living situation and personal preferences.
- It can be expensive to adopt an ESA
Emotional support animals aren’t cheap, and some ESAs may cost you as much as $50,000. However, typically, you will pay $15,000 to $30,000 upfront to obtain the animal in the first place. Ignoring the small registration fee (probably $100), your ESA will cost you thousands of dollars annually; you must buy its food, take it to a vet, and make the house a comfortable place for your friend.
That is why you should only apply for an ESA letter if you can afford the cost of keeping the animal.
- ESAs may not be allowed everywhere
Since these are not service animals, ESAs must follow certain rules when their owners want to take them to an establishment. For instance, you should choose pet-friendly restaurants to bring your ESA to; otherwise, the manager can refuse entry to the animal. It’s important to check with the manager beforehand to see if they require any advanced notice or extra fee to accommodate the ESA.
Also, many establishments require your ESA to be on its best behavior, i.e., it shouldn’t make excessive noise or leave any waste behind. That’s why you shouldn’t just assume that your ESA is allowed in all establishments. Always check with the property owner to avoid evictions or any legal actions.
- Create an emotional support plan
Getting an ESA isn’t enough; you need to create an entire emotional support plan after obtaining your ESA letter. Design different activities, routines, and strategies to maximize the therapeutic benefits of your ESA. Contact mental health professionals and ask them how to properly integrate your ESA into your overall treatment plan. The animal alone won’t necessarily improve your mental health. But you can benefit from its companionship by incorporating your ESA in your rehabilitation process.
Follow the guidelines mentioned in this blog before getting your emotional support animal (ESA). Remember, you must consider a few crucial factors when looking for the right animal to accompany you on your travels. Check the legal requirements of owning an ESA while assessing your own needs and responsibilities.
Navigate through these essential considerations, and you’ll be able to adopt an ESA successfully. Contact a reliable service to obtain the ESA license if you suffer from stress, anxiety, or depression.