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Exploring The Benefits Of Having An Emotional Support Animal


April 09, 2021

Emotional support animals are much more than dogs, cats, or exotic animals of a flight. For those with furry companions, they make a difference.

Animals are not only adorable. In addition to offering their furry friendship to their owner, they're also able to provide emotional support to people with disabilities.

Emotional support animals (ESA) are easily misunderstood. While America is a country where nearly one in five of the population lives with a mental illness — ESAs are important to understand. Here's a guide to understanding ESA's and how they benefit their owners.

What Is An Emotional Support Animal

While an emotional support dog may commonly be a cat, mouse, peacock, or dog, it may even be a duck, horse, or any other animal.

"[ESAs are not] trained to offer specific assistance to its owner to help accommodate a disability, which is what crucially distinguishes an ESA from a service dog protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act."

Healthcare lawyer Erin K. Jackson tells Bustle.

Not to be confused with a pet, the primary job of the support animal is to help provide therapeutic aid to the owner to help them handle a specific disability.

The Benefits Of An ESA

For people with specific disabilities, having an ESA can help ease anxiety. The mere proximity of the furry companion can bring a soothing presence while reducing feelings of loneliness. They essentially provide love and comfort to their owners.

While there has been much controversy surrounding support animals on planes, licensed clinical psychologist Alicia H. Clark, Psy.D., tells "Self". While there are individuals who misuse the system to bring along their pets on trips they'd otherwise be prohibited,  Marc Bekoff, Ph.D., told "Self" that behavior is "egregious" given there are people who benefit from traveling with their support animals.

"Bustle" mentions how one of the benefits includes ESAs working in conjunction with other forms of treatment to provide relief essentially. Richardson details how they are not, in themselves, a treatment. Instead, they can help address some of the symptoms.

The Difference Between Service And Emotional Support Animals


Dissimilarly to service dogs, ESAs are not trained for the job per se while a service dog is. The difference between their responsibilities is that a service dog performs tasks for people with disabilities, according to "Healthline."

"Very Well Mind" reported that research on the long-term effects of emotional support animals for alleviating the symptoms of psychological conditions is yet to be proved; these little friends may still be helpful for soothing multiple other mental health conditions.