Dogs have been known to be the best animal friend anyone can hope for and they provide more than mere
companionship and cuddle buddies. They can help you get rid of your fears, calm down your nerves or even get fit. Professional therapists and psychiatrists can actually prescribe an emotional support animal (ESA) and dogs often make the most favorable candidate for this task. If you have been wondering how to make your dog an emotional support animal, then below are a few insights to help you through the process.
What Is An Emotional Support Animal (ESA)?
As the name suggests, emotional support animals are trained to offer emotional support to patients suffering mental illnesses or disorders. It could be fear of needles, post traumatic stress disorder, depression or mental disability. These animals are recommended by certified professionals who deem them critical to the well being of a patient suffering one of the above conditions. They provide comfort and emotional support needed to maintain quality of life for the patient.
Emotional Support Dogs
Emotional support animals (ESAs) can be any animal, but dogs are the most common as they are more
endearing and offer unconditional love. All dogs may be considered to be emotional support animals. However, ESAs are specifically prescribed to patients of mental illness and disorders. Prescription must be made by a licensed healthcare professional such as a psychiatrist, psychologist or therapist once they determine that the dog’s presence is essential to the patient’s mental well being.
Who Needs An Emotional Support Dog?
Although emotional support dogs are primarily prescribed for individuals suffering mental disorder, illness and/or disability, they are often recommended to treat various conditions including;
Anxiety, fear and phobia
Depression and mood disorders
Suicidal thoughts and tendencies
They are basically prescribed for anyone who is deemed to have a fundamental improvement to their quality of life whenever the animal is present. According to research by the National Institute of Mental Health, about 1 in 4 Americans will experience various forms of mental disorder during their lifetime. Individuals suffering any of the above conditions are eligible for an ESA.
Benefits Of Having An Emotional Support Dog
Numerous research studies have revealed that emotional support dogs can indeed reduce or even eliminate symptoms of anxiety and depression in some patients. For instance, those suffering depression and loneliness can find comfort and companionship in their dogs. This can help them forge a relationship to move on with life.
One great advantage of having an emotional support dog is that they offer unconditional companionship
and affection. They can be combined with contemporary medication or even replace the invasive treatments. Keeping and maintaining a dog is also relatively cheap compared to the costly treatments available for mental disorders.
How To Prove Your Dog Is An Emotional Service Animal
There are several sites that will offer identification tags, certificates, vests and leashes that state
your dog is an emotional support animal. Although this is great for identification purposes, simply having a tag does not qualify your dog as an ESA. The only legal way to prove and give you dog an ESA status is through getting a letter from a licensed professional such as a therapist. Make sure your ESA letter is from a mental health practitioner. The letter should state the following:
a) That you are a patient under the professional’s care
b) The mental disability or illness you suffer
c) The name of your dog
d) How the dog alleviates your illness symptoms
It is important to avoid fake documents and get genuine ESA letter from the doctor that is actually treating you. You can find licensed mental health professionals online, email them and schedule sessions. No registration is required as the letter is all you need to prove that your dog is an ESA.
How To Get An Emotional Support Dog Letter
The only viable path on how to make your dog an emotional support animal is through obtaining an ESA
letter. Your first step should be to find a licensed therapist or professional you see regularly, if you do not have one already, and schedule a meeting to discuss the issue. If your therapist is not ready to write a letter, find another professional who can. There are many licensed practitioners that can write you a credible ESA letter and the process can be completed online. Simply make sure you consult professionals licensed by one of the following;
Dept. of Housing & Urban Development
Dept. of Transportation
All the three have a mandate to protect emotionally disabled patients and their pets. The letter should
feature an official letterhead that includes the name of the professional, their license type, date and state where it was issued.
The legislation requires landlords and airlines to permit accommodation of ESA pets so there
should be no cause for worry on where you can go with your dog. Once you have an official ESA letter, you can buy the emotional support dog kit that offers registration, certificates, IDs, tags, leashes and vest so your dog can be easily identified as an ESA. It is also important to note the difference
between ESAs and service animals. If you do not have a dog, you can look up the best breeds for emotional support and acquire one.