Do you want an emotional support dog to help with your depression, anxiety, or PTSD? If so, the first thing you need to know is that there are different kinds of emotional support dogs. The type of animal that will be best for you depends on what your needs are. For example, if you have a fear of heights and want an emotional support dog to help mitigate it, then a service animal might not be the right choice for you because they cannot go in public places like stores or restaurants. However, if someone has social anxiety and wants an emotional support dog for the company when out in public spaces who can also act as protection against strangers who may feel threatened by their appearance then a companion animal would work better because they can accompany them into many public spaces and also provide protection.
If you think you might benefit from having an emotional support dog then below are some tips on how to go about getting one:
1) Check If Your State Requires Registration For Emotional Support Animals –
Some states require owners of service animals to register their pets before obtaining any rights or benefits. One of the requirements to register an ESA dog includes providing proof that it has been professionally evaluated by a mental health professional. This is because registration for an ESA animal cannot be done online, at the DMV, or at the local grocery store like other pets are registered.
2) Determine What Kind Of Emotional Support Animal You Need –
Before registering an emotional support dog one must understand that there are different kinds of emotional support dogs including but not limited to: autism dogs, mobility assistance dogs, seizure alert dogs, and psychiatric service dogs among others. An ESA dog provides relief from mental distress and alleviates symptoms associated with certain conditions such as panic disorders and PTSD. Some people do not know that there are treatment plans tailored just for them so even if you do not think you need an ESA dog, it might be a better option for you.
3) Consider How Big Your ESA Animal Will Be –
You cannot have a full-grown emotional support pig or llama in public places. So when looking for your ESA animal, understand that they can be any breed of domestic cat or dog and should not weigh more than 40 pounds at adulthood. The maximum weight will vary depending on the airline carrier so always double-check what is allowed beforehand to ensure stress-free travel for you and your ESA dog.
4) Be Aware Of Certain Disqualifiers Before Registering An ESA Person –
If you have allergies, a fear of animals, or religious reasons where having an emotional support would go against personal beliefs then you will most likely not qualify for an ESA dog. If you are part of the military service, then there is currently no way to register a pet as an ESA with any branch of the armed forces.
5) Be Prepared To Pay At Least $20 Per Year For ESA Registration –
Expect to pay around $25-$30 per year for your emotional support animal registration, depending on where you live and what your requirements are. There may be extra costs involved too so it’s best to explore if you need an ID card or fancy certificate before getting started with ESA registration. This one-time cost is better than having to shell out hundreds if not thousands of dollars in fines every time your pet makes a mess or wrecks something in someone ‘s home.
6) Check Your State’s ESA Rules And Regulations –
Again, as with all things related to emotional support animals, it is important that you check what your local laws require of an ESA owner before getting started. This includes checking whether or not you need to register a service dog in the first place. For example, if you live in California then you need a doctor’s letter but don’t have to go through any special channels – something that could save time and money – whereas other states might require additional steps such as filling out forms and paying fees for ESA registration.
7) Talk To A Mental Health Professional About Whether Or Not An Emotional Support Animal Will Help –
Even though there are many benefits associated with having an emotional support animal, there are also drawbacks. For example, you might be required to give up your landlord’s no-pet policy or face eviction if it is not written into the lease agreement. If this sounds problematic for you then it might not be worth getting an ESA at all; however, talk to a mental health professional about whether or not having an emotional support dog by your side will help you live happier and healthier.
8) Get An ESA Letter –
Once you have decided that getting an emotional support animal will be beneficial for your mental health and overall well-being, make sure to get ESA registration papers. These should include information such as where the animal is allowed to go with its owner and what public areas they can visit together. Furthermore, you should also have an ESA letter sent to your landlord so that s/he knows if it is allowed in your rental agreement. If this sounds problematic for you then it might not be worth getting an ESA at all; however, talk to a mental health professional about whether or not having an emotional support dog by your side will help you live happier and healthier.
9) Prepare For Possible Problems –
Although many places will welcome ESAs with open arms, there are still some who discriminate against their presence. If such discrimination arises (which may happen), try making the person aware of ADA laws and how they protect ESAs from being discriminated against. The more people know about ESA registration and the rights animals it have, the less likely negative experiences will be.
10) Make Sure You Can Afford An ESA –
Another thing to consider when deciding to get an ESA is the cost. ESA owners are responsible for paying for food, housing, and healthcare (if necessary). While there are various ways one can cut costs when it comes to owning a dog (such as buying pet store brands instead of name-brands), find out what expenses you’re willing to pay for and which ones you aren’t before getting your animal.
These steps should help in making sure that your emotional support dog is legally registered and that all parties involved know their rights and responsibilities. Remember that ESAs exist primarily to offer companionship and emotional support; however, they also have legal rights so make sure they’re not misused.