Know Your Facts: 4 Myths Surrounding Emotional Support Animals
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post debunking the myths surrounding emotional support animals.
Do you know exactly what an emotional support animal is? Lots of myths and misconceptions exist around emotional support animals like what they do, who are they for, and how you get one. ESAs provide comfort and improve the mental health of those with a diagnosed mental disability. Any animal can be an ESA, but some psychologists may only recognize dogs, cats, rabbits and other common pets as emotional support animals. Separate fact from fiction with these ESA myths.
Myth #1: Emotional support animals are service animals
The most common ESA myth is that they are the same as service animals. Service animals are highly trained to perform specific functions for those with a physical or psychological disability. Service animals have to undergo certifications and tests to make sure they qualify as a service dog and complete their training before being paired with a disabled person. ESAs are pets that help someone with a diagnosed mental disability cope with the symptoms of their disability and improve their mental health.
Myth #2: Emotional support animals can go anywhere
Service animals are allowed to accompany their owners in any places that the general public is allowed. Emotional support animals are only allowed in housing that does not allow pets and aboard the aircraft cabin during flights through the Fair Housing Act and the Air Carrier Access Act. ESAs cannot be taken into restaurants or grocery stores unless they allow pets. Service animals are not pets in the eyes of the law.
Myth #3: All You Need is a Vest to Get an ESA
While emotional support animals do not need official training besides basic obedience to behave in public, they do require a letter from a licensed mental health professional. The LMHP will evaluate whether the pet improves the mental health of their owner who has a diagnosed mental disability like anxiety or depression. Vests and badges aren’t enough and are not always necessary. There is also no “registry” for emotional support animals.
Myth #4: All ESAs Can Travel for Free on Planes
Emotional support animals are allowed to travel in the cabin of an aircraft with the proper letter from a licensed mental health professional and other documentation as requested by the airline. Each airline has different rules and requirements as to what animals are allowed on the aircraft. Many airlines only allow dogs and cats. ESAs can be denied boarding if they are not behaving correctly.
There are many falsehoods and fake facts about emotional support animals, how to get one and where they are permitted. People often confuse ESAs with service animals, which are allowed to accompany their owners in any public places. ESAs require a letter from a licensed mental health professional and can only travel with their owners in an airplane and live in non-pet housing; otherwise, they are pets and can go in pet-friendly places only.
There is no “registry” for ESAs and badges/vests are not required. Many sites offer fake ESA letters and gear for profit. Traveling with your ESA soon?
Make sure to read about Delta Airline’s Pet Policy here.