Today, more and more people are becoming aware of the upheld benefits of having emotional support animals. An emotional support animal helps people with a variety of emotional and mental disorders including anxiety, depression, stress, and personality disorder to cope with their problem.
Traditionally, these problems were dealt with through a combination of therapy and prescription medication. Even though they are effective, these approaches are not only costly, but can also be unhealthy as they lead to addiction.
On the other side, an emotional support animal is like a friend who you can take everywhere you go. They can help improve your moods by their presence and actions. It is for this reason that they are used to help people with mental and emotional disorders.
So, how do you get an emotional support animal?
Getting an Emotional Support Animal
You Must be Diagnosed With a Qualifying Condition
The first step is paying your mental health care provider a visit. Here, you will be diagnosed and offered guidance on how to get a doctor’s note for an emotional support animal.
Basically, severe anxiety, PTSD, depression, social anxiety disorder, phobias, personality disorders, panic attacks, mood disorders, seasonal affective disorder, and other types of mental disorders will most certainly get you a doctor’s note.
Get an Emotional Support Animal Prescription
After an official diagnosis by a licensed mental health professional, you’ll get an official letter that states you are a patient under their care. They should indicate that the pet in question helps you cope with your emotional disorder.
Other details that should be on your official emotional support letter include the caregiver’s letterhead, contact information, license number, and the date you obtained it. Be sure to renew it every year as per Americans with Disability Act (ADA) requirements.
Despite what some institutions claim, you are not legally obliged to have your emotional support pet registered in order to be allowed to bring it with you in some restricted places. All you need is an official letter from a recognized healthcare provider.
If Your Landlord or Workplace Prohibits Pets, Submit a Written Request
In many instances, pets are not allowed to escort their owners to some places. However, the ADA exempts emotional support pets from some housing and employment laws.
If your landlord prohibits you from cohabiting with your pet or your boss cannot stand the sight of pets at the workplace, submit a formal written request.
In the letter, be precise about the kind of animal you would like to have around you, and your reasons for the request. Do not forget to attach a copy of your emotional support animal prescription.
If your request is granted, great! But if they offer an unfavorable alternative or a blatant rejection, that shouldn’t spell the end of the road for you. If you are up for the task, you can submit a housing discrimination complaint or seek legal advice from an employment lawyer to help you fight for your rights.
Choosing Your Pet
According to the ADA, an emotional support animal doesn’t necessarily need to be a trained one. Furthermore, the ADA does not limit your choices when it comes to species. You can adopt any animal that tickles your soul—even a hamster!
That being said, if you opt for a pet that is not everyone’s cup of tea, say a snake, a ferret, a spider or a rodent—you may experience difficulties carrying it in a number of places like airports.
For instance, the Air Carrier Access Act – the law under which airlines are obliged to allow emotional support animals to join you in aircraft cabins – may not cover such uncommon animals. Furthermore, most foreign airlines do not allow any other types of emotional support pets other than dogs.
Therefore, consider a number of factors before choosing your pet. Will be traveling regularly? Does your place of work or landlord allow pets?
Be a Responsible Handler
If you follow the above steps, you will certainly get your hands on an emotional support animal. But that does not mean that you should let your pet cause discomfort to other people around you.
While emotional support animals are protected under a number of federal laws, there are specifics that vary from one state to another. As a responsible handler, it’s important to know your rights in your specific states.
But more importantly, take full advantage of your emotional support animals and focus on getting well soon!