Monday, May 22, 2017

ESAs versus service dogs

ESAs are Emotional Support Animals. These can be various species and have little or no specific training. They provide companionship, relieve loneliness and can help with anxiety or depression.

In contrast, Service Animals help owners do specific tasks, such as guiding the blind,  and have years of training in helping the disabled.

Certifying ESAs proves to be a problem.

Researchers at the University of Missouri are looking into this.

ESAs can be pets, but legally are not really pets--they can go places pets cannot go.

The laws---Federal and state--concerning ESAs are ever-changing and confusing.

---A landlord can bar a pet, but not an ESA (and often must waive pet deposits for them, too).

---ESAs can go in the main cabin of a plane or even a restaurant.

So mental health professionals must certify these animals somehow.

The researchers agreed that ESAs are appropriate for some patients. Also:

--Requests for ESAs should be met with the same thoroughness of any disability evaluation.

--Professional guidelines are needed.

--Local, state, and national policymakers should meet with mental health professionals to evaluate future legislation involving ESAs.

They also recommended the evaluators not be the owner's doctor or practitioner--this can lead to biased assessments.

So where does that leave us? Pretty much dependent on future actions, I would say. For now, a beloved "pet" could still get special privileges. But, at the same time, those special privileges could benefit the owner greatly and even save his or her life.

Google "emotional support animal"--there are many websites claiming to certify these animals. You will also find out more about the law as it stands now.

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