Everything You Need To Know About Emotional Support Animals

Because navigating emotional wellness with a four-legged furry friend is always better!


You may have noticed dogs roaming in unconventional places — airports, restaurants, and even shopping malls — and while service animals are quite recognizable, what is an emotional support animal (ESA)?


Our furry best friends complete our families — not only do they keep us company on runs and provide us with a lifetime of laughs, they’re always by our side offering their undivided emotional support. The VetSet is here to make sure your furry friend lives out their days healthy and happy. We provide traditional and alternative care at our brick and mortar vet clinic and also our mobile vet services. Join us in today’s post as we explore all that pertains to emotional support animals.

The Power of Animals


While emotional support animals have received a lot of media attention from both critics and those in favor, most people can identify and have experience with the power of animals. Whether it’s a special bond you have as a pet parent or the joys of fostering, you can relate to the ease and calm that pets can bring. They can sense when your in turmoil both physically and emotionally, and are the first ones at your side to help soothe.


Emotional support animals are no different and they offer those who are managing health issues more rights than your typical household pet.


What’s The Difference? Emotional Support Pets Vs. Service and Therapy Animals


A service animal is typically a dog trained for a specific task. We have service dogs for the blind, for those in wheelchairs, and even those who have epilepsy. Emotional support dogs differ from service animals in that they’re not trained for a specific job so they don’t have the same public allowances that service animals do.


A therapy animal — again, typically a dog — is a pet trained to offer psychological and emotional support. Common places to spot therapy animals are in nursing homes, schools, and therapists offices.


The largest difference between an emotional support animal and service and therapy animals, is that they’re not trained for a specific task or job. They are simply there in their presence to offer an emotional connection void of less legal accommodations.  


Emotional support animals do not have the same rights as service animals under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) because they are not needed to provide their owner’s in assistance in everyday tasks and do not receive ongoing, consistent, and professional training.

The very beautiful thing about ESA is that the law recognizes their significance, and some laws extend to them — you are allowed some rights in public spaces. ESA’s are recognized in the Fair Housing Amendment Act (FHAA) and those with emotional support animals are allowed to keep them, in addition to the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) that allows owners to bring their animals on a flight even beyond whether they fit in a carrier under the seat or not.


The laws are only so permitting — in units with a no pet policy, ESA animals are still not allowed, and within the ACAA, you can only fly with a dog or cat.


What Makes An Emotional Support Animal Legal?


To certify an ESA, you must get prescribed a script requesting an ESA by your mental health practitioner. These scripts are typically written for those who suffer from the following mental health concerns:


  • Depression
  • Learning disabilities
  • Anxiety
  • ADHD
  • Cognitive issues


The letter must include all information such as:


  • A script written by your current mental health practitioner
  • The disability stated for an ESA
  • How your life is impacted by the health concerns you have
  • How the ESA would improve your quality of life
  • Be dated a year or less out from the time you require it for housing or travel


More on Emotional Support Animals


ESAs are widely beneficial for the quality of life they can help guide you towards. An ESA needs no specific training or certifications and can be a pet you already have or one you’re planning on adopting.


It is highly recommended that they do have basic obedience training and manners so they can behave well in a public space.


ESAs play a vital role alongside side both service and therapy animals. They can help those struggling with a psychological issue gain a better quality of life and soothe them in stressful situations such as long flights or being home alone.  


It’s also important to go through all of the right avenues to gain certification, so as not to abuse the system and make it more difficult for those in the future to obtain a ESA.


If you are managing a health issue and feel you need the support of an animal, look into an emotional support animal to help you through your toughest days.


If you have an emotional support animal and are in need of vet services in the Carroll Garden area, reach out to us today!




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