The Dramatic Rise of Emotional Support Pets in Modern Society

90% of disabilities are “invisible.” They show no obvious symptoms and often go unrecognized or undiagnosed.

There’s one visible way that those who suffer from these disabilities may treat them; an emotional support animal. A dog, cat, or other species provides relief in unexpected ways. More and more of them are being used for that purpose.

Read on to learn about the history and growth of emotional support animals.

Service Animals vs. Emotional Support Animals vs. Psychiatric Service Animals

Emotional support and service animals are often used interchangeably, but they’re not the same. 

Service animals are trained for a specific purpose, such as helping the blind. Only dogs or miniature horses qualify.

Emotional support animals serve as companions to help those with emotional or psychiatric disorders.

Almost any domesticated animal qualifies. A licensed therapist or other health care professional can certify them with a letter outlining their benefits.

A psychiatric service animal goes one step further. They react to changes in a handler’s physical or emotional state. Unlike emotional support animals, they need to take special courses to learn how to do this work.

This means completing psychiatric service animal training. They’ll have the same access and housing rights as service dogs It also makes travel arrangements easier. They can go on airlines where emotional support and

Their Legal Rights

Fair Housing Laws say that emotional support animals have additional rights when it comes to housing.

An emotional support animal must be allowed in properties with no pets policies. They’re also exempt from any pet fees, deposits, or rent because they’re not pets. 

Their Benefits

There’s little scientific evidence about the benefits of an emotional support animal specifically. Many studies do prove the benefits of being with animals in general. They improve mental wellness and reduce the symptoms of:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • OCD or obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • PTSD or Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Schizophrenia 
  • BPD or borderline personality disorder

Regularly going outside to walk a dog is a healthy habit. It provides the benefits of exercise and being in nature. They provide a talking point when you meet others. Most importantly, they’re a comforting companion. 

Their Growth

Why have there been so many more emotional support animals in the last few years? 

The world’s been experiencing a mental health epidemic for years, but the COVID-19 pandemic rocketed stress levels up higher than ever before.

Many realized they needed a companion to help them deal with the aftermath. Pet adoptions grew. So did letters legitimizing emotional support animals for those who developed mental disorders.

Housing arrangements for pet owners are also difficult.

Many landlords have far-reaching no-pet policies. Some owners falsely declare their furry family member an emotional service animal. It’s easier and less heartbreaking than being forced to leave them behind. 

More Mental Wellness Information 

Emotional support animals help those with invisible disabilities cope. They also have more legal protections than pets. Numbers of growing thanks to recent pandemic-induced stress and rentals that forbid pets. 

Read the rest of our content to learn more ways to improve mental wellness.

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