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Colleges & Universities Allow Emotional Support Animals

Going to college can be a tough transition for young students, as it is fraught with unknowns and plenty of stressors. Social anxieties, academic anxieties—not to mention moving to a new home (often even a new town)—can create an incredible amount of emotional angst. And, if you’ve always grown up around animals, it can be especially difficult to transition into a place without any. If you can relate to these feelings, you’re in luck!

While only a handful of colleges and universities allow students to bring pets to campus, all of them, both public and private, are required by law to allow any student with a service animal or an emotional support animal to bring their companion to campus. That includes an emotional support dog or an emotional support cat, although even ducks and other oddities sometimes make the cut.

What is an emotional support animal?

An emotional support animal (ESA), most commonly an emotional support dog or emotional support cat, is a person’s pet that has been prescribed by a licensed mental health professional, such as a licensed therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist. The animal is part of the treatment program for this person and is designed to bring comfort and minimize the negative symptoms of the person’s emotional or psychological disability.

Because it is the very presence of an emotional support animal that mitigates symptoms, the ESA does not need to have any specific training.

Why have an emotional support animal at college?

According to the American Psychological Association, stress on campuses is on the rise. Between 2010 and 2015, there has been a 30% increase in students seeking counseling help. And a UNI Health study found that 80% of students report feeling stress at university. Is it any surprise?

College can be a stressful experience for many students. Not only are they adjusting to a new environment, but for most, it is their first time living away from their family home. Students arrive oftentimes both to a new home and a new social scene—it can be very lonely until friendships are established. Add to this excessive school demands like tests and research papers, and stress can skyrocket. That’s where an emotional support animal comes in.

An emotional support cat can make a student feel at ease, when they come back to their dorm and have a furry little friend to play games with and cuddle. The relationship with their emotional support cat can be very tender and sweet and can really lift the mood.

Similarly, an emotional support dog can be a great friend when times are tough. Just seeing the excited doggie face when stressed out, can help shift the negative spiral and taking an emotional support dog for a walk can help clear the air.

Here are a few of the major stressors that an emotional support animal at college can help to alleviate:

  • Homesickness
  • Academic Expectations
  • Social Anxiety
  • Loneliness

When a student leaves home for college, they naturally miss a lot of things about home—and their pet is not one of the insignificant things. That’s why lots of colleges and universities are opening up pet therapy programs to allow a student to bring an emotional support animal on campus.

An emotional support dog or cat can also help students feel more at ease in social situations. Meeting new people can be easier when there is a dog present to focus on.

Is an emotional support animal permitted in the dorm?

Yes! The fair housing act which gives housing rights to people with an emotional support animal. That means that even if a residence is a “no pets allowed” residence, the owner is required to make allowances for where an emotional support animal is concerned. It also can potentially wave pet fees associated with certain residences.

However, proper documentation will need to be supplied. A 2013 US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) memorandum states the housing provider may ask persons who are seeking a reasonable accommodation for an assistance animal that provides emotional support to provide documentation from a physician, psychiatrist, social worker, or other mental health professional that the animal provides emotional support that alleviates one or more of the identified symptoms or effects of an existing disability.

Can an emotional support animal accompany me to class?

This is less likely. While the housing laws protect your right to have an animal at home, it does not necessarily mean you can take your emotional support dog or emotional support cat anywhere on campus. However, you may request special permission to take your emotional support animal with you to class and to other areas on the campus. Just keep in mind that universities are not required to acquiesce in this circumstance.

Can my service animal come with me to class?

A service animal is different from an emotional support animal in that they are trained to help a disabled owner to accomplish certain tasks. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires schools to allow these animals on campus, and because these animals (service dogs or, less commonly, service miniature horses) are professionals at work, and can be necessary for basic tasks, they follow a different set of rules. For example, a service animal must be allowed at all times and everywhere on campus, except where there is a health or safety hazard. That means your service animal can come with you to class, the dining hall, and the library.

What kind of animal can an emotional support be?

An emotional support animal can technically be any sort of domesticated animal, including a bird, hamster, rabbit or, of course, an emotional support cat or emotional support dog, with these latter two being the most common sort. However, there are limits on reasonability, so before you try to bring your pet alligator to university, you’ll want to check on the specifics with your particular school.

You’ll also need to be sure that the animal is manageable in public and does not create a nuisance in or around the dormitory, or it may be asked to leave.

How can I bring my emotional support animal to school?

In order to bring your animal to school, you will need to qualify. It is not difficult: To qualify for an emotional support animal, you will need to have a psychologist, psychiatrist, therapist or other licensed mental health professional provide a professional prescription letter certifying that an emotional support dog or cat are of therapeutic benefit to you because of an emotional disability. Some emotional conditions that may qualify you could include depression, anxiety, PTSD, ADD or learning disabilities.

In the letter the professional will need to assert that having an emotional support animal significantly helps alleviate your condition.

Are there any schools that allow pets without needing an ESA certificate?

Yes! But not many. Eckerd College in Florida, for example, is known for being incredibly pet friendly, as they live by the philosophy that students should be able to bring a bit of home with them to school. The college even includes an on-campus dog park and veterinary services for students! Stephens College in Missouri is another campus that welcomes pets and Lees-McRae College in North Carolina goes so far as to encourage students and teachers to bring students to class.

There are also schools with equestrian programs, such as Centenary College in New Jersey and Alfred University in New York, so you’ll have lots of time with horses if that’s what feels good.

Other universities allow animals in dormitories for second year students or third year students only, while other schools have specific pet friendly dorms, such as California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, which has cat friendly apartments on campus. Many universities only allow pets (or emotional support animals) in single-resident dorm rooms.

While it is rare to be allowed to have a dog or cat on campus as a pet, most colleges and universities allow reasonably sized aquariums with fish, along with other small caged animals such as hamsters.

And keep in mind that even if you don’t go to a pet friendly school, all universities must respect the rights to have an emotional support animal in the dorms.

School doesn’t have to be so lonely!

If you have a special pet that you’re close to, you may want to consider having them certified to be an emotional support animal. Having a furry friend at school can provide real comfort. A pet, such as an emotional support cat or emotional support dog can provide nurturing touch, wholesome connection and therapeutic love. Simply sharing a space with one of these wonderful animals can relax your nerves and ease your stress. The National Service Animal Registry can help you get your pet registered today.

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Emotional Support Animal Laws: All You Need to Know

Many people rely on animals for companionship and comfort. They tend to our emotional needs and ask little in return other than some attention, a walk in the park and a bowl of food. To people disabled by mental, psychological or emotional disorders, their animals are more than pets but an integral part of their medical care.

An emotional support animal helps people with mental or emotional disabilities to function with a degree of normalcy. To a person susceptible to panic attacks, anxiety, or other behaviors related to their mental or emotional condition, having the animal around can be a calming presence.

That could mean taking a cat with them for a medical visit, cradling a pig on a passenger air flight, or holding a lizard in a public place. Not every place accessible to the public allows emotional support animals, although many are. Even if you’ve obtained an emotional support animal certification, it helps to be familiar with laws that affect them and your ownership of them.

Legal Challenges

Owners of emotional support animals (ESAs) typically confront resistance from property managers of apartments with no-pet policies or those that charge a substantial fee for having a pet. ESA owners also encounter resistance from managers of public access buildings like theaters and restaurants. These facilities restrict animal access to specially trained service animals like dogs that assist the blind. Emotional support animals are not considered service animals by some companies, so owners of ESAs may also run into resistance from airlines when trying to board with them.

Not every building with public access is required to accept emotional support animals. However, federal law does protect owners diagnosed with emotional, psychological or mental disabilities who want to take their support animals on passenger flights. The owners also have legal protections when it comes to leasing a place to live.

Housing

The Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 ensures individuals with disabilities who rely on emotional support animals have access to housing – even to properties that restrict pets. Property owners are required under federal law to make “reasonable accommodations” for emotional support animals. They cannot charge an advance deposit or fee for the ESAs but may recover costs from damage the animal causes to the property. Property owners may require individuals with ESAs to present documentation of their disability from the licensed mental health professional treating the individual.

Air Travel

Disabled individuals that want to travel with their emotional support animals sometimes encounter resistance from passenger air carriers. Individuals with ESAs are protected by the Air Carrier Access Act that prohibits discrimination of disabled people who travel by air. This 1990 law prohibits airlines from refusing transportation to or require advance notice from people who are disabled. Air carriers are required to accommodate individuals with emotional support animals.

Air carriers may also require disabled people with ESAs to supply documentation of their disability. In addition, individual airlines may have their own policies regarding emotional support animals accompanying their owners, so it is a good idea to check with their carrier prior to the trip.

Be Aware

The federal laws covering emotional support animals in travel and residential situations prevent discrimination to mentally or psychologically disabled individuals. Documentation from a licensed mental health professional of a mental or psychological condition or disorder is often requested. In some cases, disabled persons apply for emotional support animal certifications to ensure the animals are recognized as essential to the person’s therapy. If an emotional support animal is part of your therapeutic routine, it may be an option worth looking into. Visit our ESA certification page to purchase your own ESA certificate today!

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If Emotional Support Animals Are Banned From Planes

Airlines are lobbying for stricter rules regarding emotional support animals on airplanes. In recent years, the number of people flying with an emotional support animal has ballooned and airlines feel frustrated by what they feel are people blatantly taking advantage of the system to fly their animal for free…and sometimes even endangering the passengers and crew with an untrained animal. But while there are undoubtedly fraudsters banking on a free ride for their pet, banning all emotional support animals will leave many travelers who genuinely need their emotional support animal vulnerable and unable to fly.

The proposed changes by the Transportation Department would allow only service animals in the main cabin of the airplane, while asking that emotional support animals be treated as pets. What exactly does that mean?

What’s the Difference Between A Service Animal, Emotional Support Animal, and A Pet?

Well, a service animal is a dog (and in some cases, a miniature horse) trained to perform major life tasks to assist people with physical or severe psychiatric impairments/disabilities.

An emotional support animal on the other hand is like a pet in that it does not need to be trained. It has, however, been prescribed by a licensed mental health professional, such as a licensed therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist. The animal is part of the treatment program for this person and is meant to bring comfort and minimize the negative symptoms of the person’s emotional/psychological disability.

And we all know what a pet is.

But, how does the definition of your animals’ role translate into flying?

The Various Animals and Their Places Onboard a Plane

Right now, both a service animal and an emotional support animal are treated with special privileges onboard planes, while pets are treated with…a few less rights. For example, both a service animal and an emotional support animal is allowed to be both in the cabin of the plane and outside of a cage (such as on their person’s lap).

Neither a service animal nor an emotional support animal costs anything to travel with, while travelling with a pet incurs a fee.

To summarize, taking a pet on board involves the following:

  • Paying a fee (up to 125$ each direction)
  • Keeping the animal in a cage under the seat, size permitting, or
  • Flying the animal as cargo

Plenty of people do not want to pay the fee, but more troubling for many is flying an animal as cargo. For one thing, crates can be knocked about and treated like luggage, without consideration for the animal inside. Also, luggage can fall on the cage during turbulence. For another thing, changes in temperature and air pressure can be more pronounced in the cargo, and it’s very loud, with lots of strange smells. All of this compounds to mean that a ride in cargo is an overall distressing experience for any animal.

Of course, that is not even to mention the experience of the person flying without their emotional support animal. The problem is that a person who needs to be able to stroke their emotional support animal to stave off severe anxiety or PTSD, will be out of luck if this ruling goes through. Many will simply stop flying. Why do people feel so strongly about needing their emotional support animal on board the flight?

Why Do People Fly with Their Emotional Support Animals?

Some need to have their animal within range to stroke the entire duration of a flight to feel relaxed and at ease. Others are comforted just by being close to their animal. Emotional support animals can reduce stress, soothe anxiety and alleviate emotional traumas.

For some, flying itself is a trigger and can be stressful without their emotional support animal.

For others, while they are comfortable traveling and don’t really need to have their emotional support animal on the plane, they will need to have it on the other end of the flight. And for the reasons mentioned above, many people simply don’t want to put their ESA in cargo—especially considering their reliance on these animals.

So, if cargo is not a welcome or even acceptable option, but the emotional support animal is needed for insomnia or severe stress once at the destination, then what is to be done?

Conclusion

While it is true that exorbitant pet fees have likely been the prime motivation for some people making their pet into an emotional support animal, there are plenty of others who are motivated by a real emotional need. Hopefully, a solution is found that does not punish those who really need their emotional support animal and flying can continue to be a part of their lives.

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Rules Differ for Service Animals Vs. Emotional Support Animals – Here’s How

Many people feel overwhelmed and confused about the rules governing service dogs and Emotional Support Animals.

This is worrying because it means people who are already living with disabilities sometimes are not taking advantage of all the privileges they are entitled to and that will make their lives easier.

Even worse, it also means that people get put off registering their pets in the first place and struggle on without their support needlessly.

If you find the rules confusing, know you are not alone. Read on for an outline of the law, and if you need any further help, advice, or support – contact us.

We’ve been helping people with service animals and Emotional Support Animals for over 25 years. It’s our job to keep up with changes in the law and find solutions to help our clients. We’d love to help you too!

What’s the Difference Between a Service Animal and an Emotional Support Animal?

Service Animals

A service animal is usually a dog (or sometimes a miniature horse) who is trained to carry out specific tasks for someone who is physically or psychiatrically impaired. Service animals are also known as assistance animals, assist animals, support animals, or helper animals depending on the tasks the animal is trained to carry out and the country.

In order to qualify for a service dog, you must have difficulty performing at least one major life activity without assistance. Although you don’t need a letter from a doctor to qualify for a service animal, if you are legally challenged you will have to provide documentation that provides proof of your disability.

For more information about who qualifies for a service dog and how to register, visit our Service Dog Registration Page here.

Emotional Support Animals

In contrast, an Emotional Support Animal doesn’t carry out specific tasks for their human companion, but they help people with emotional or mental health conditions stay calm in a situation that might otherwise be triggering for them.

In order to qualify for an Emotional Support Animal, they must have been prescribed by a licensed therapist, psychiatrist, or psychologist, which means they become part of your treatment plan. Although it’s not a legal requirement to register your Emotional Support Animal, doing so legitimizes your animal and means you have less trouble and less explaining to do when you need to take them into places where they are not usually allowed.

For more information about qualifying for and how to register an Emotional Support Animal visit our registration page here.

Housing Rights for People With Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals

According to The Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, landlords and property managers are required to allow a service animal or Emotional Support Animal to live with their owner even in properties where pets are otherwise not allowed and they cannot charge you an additional fee.

This means if they have a “cats only” policy, and your service animal or Emotional Support Animal is a dog, they must allow them to live with you. They are also not allowed to discriminate about animals of a certain size or breed.

Click through for detailed information about the rules governing housing and service dogs or Emotional Support Animals.

Flying with Your Service Animal and Emotional Support Animal

According to the Air Carrier Access Act, airlines must allow you to fly with your service animal or Emotional Support Animal in the cabin with you and they may not charge you an extra fee.

If you have a service animal, you do not legally need to provide documentation, although you do need to be able to explain to airline staff which tasks your service dog assists you with. Although you’re not legally obliged to, airlines ask that your service animal wears identifying patches or a vest, a service leash, and an ID card from a creditable agency like the National Service Animal Registry.

For more information about flying with your service dog, read our guide.

The rules are slightly different for an Emotional Support Animal.

Although airlines must allow you to fly with your service animal in the cabin and must not charge you an extra fee, you do need to provide documentation. You must have a letter from a licensed therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist and some airlines will also require your therapist, or physician to fill in a form. We can help you get all the documentation you need, click here for more information.

Like with service dogs, owners of Emotional Support Animals are advised to get service patches, a vest, a service leash, and an ID card for their animal before they fly. Although you are not obliged to do this legally, it is a requirement for most airlines and will mean you encounter fewer problems when traveling with your Emotional Support Animal.

For detailed information about flying with your Emotional Support Animal, read our guide.

Taking Your Service Animal Or Emotional Support Animals Into Public Places

According to the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) people with service dogs must be allowed into places of public accommodation, which is pretty much any business open to the public except private clubs and places of worship.

This means you can take your service dog along to restaurants and bars, movie theaters and libraries, shops, schools, gyms and hospitals.

For more details about public places where you can legally take your service dog, please read our guide.

The rules are different for people with Emotional Support Animals. There is currently no legal requirement for places of public accommodation to allow you to bring along your ESA.

You may find, however, that having a fully registered ESA with an ID card and identifying patches, vest, and service leash means staff in public places are more likely to let your ESA accompany you.

Click here for more detailed information about your legal rights for your Emotional Support Animal.

Different Rules For Service Dogs and Emotional Support Animals

The rules do vary slightly between service animals and ESAs, but remember, we’re always here to offer you help, support, and advice. If you need any further information about these or any other issues about service and Emotional Support Animals, please contact us.

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How to Register an Assistance Dog: An Informative Guide

It’s incredible how much easier life can be with your dog by your side! We’re lucky to be able to build such loving relationships with such amazing animals. Unfortunately, we can’t bring them everywhere we’d like to go. That’s why it’s important to take the proper steps to register your dog as an Assistance Dog (service or ESA) or a therapy dog if you feel your pup adds to your quality of life. Dogs can reduce our anxiety, help us physically get around, provide emotional support when we need it the most, or help others in hospitals and/or hospices. If your dog provides this kind of comfort, then you can follow these steps to register your dog as a service animal, emotional support animal, or therapy animal.

Types of Assistance Animals

First, it’s important to understand what type of assistance category your dog falls into. Each category provides a different kind of support and function to their owner/handler or to others. Each category offers different legal rights as well. Basically, there are three types of assistance animals. Service animals, emotional support animals, and therapy animals. Service dogs are trained to help with various disabilities and can assist their handlers in many different ways. Service dogs are allowed in all public places. An Emotional Support Dog is a dog that doesn’t need any kind of special training but does provide the care and comfort their owners need. A Therapy Dog is a special kind of pup that provides comfort to other people.

Where Can They Go?

When you register your dog, it’s important to understand where they can and cannot go in public. Service Dogs can go anywhere and everywhere. They’re actually considered to be medical devices that are essential to their handlers. They’re not exactly considered to be pets. Emotional Support Dogs can live with you even if you live in a place with no-pet housing rules. Emotional Support Dogs can also fly with you and sit right next to you on a plane. Airlines, housing, and other establishments cannot charge fees for Emotional Support Dogs. Therapy Dogs don’t necessarily have special access to public places. They must be invited in before they can enter a hospital, home, restaurant, or any other public space.

Follow Registration Directions

Once you understand what kind of training your dog needs and what kind of assistance they provide, you can move forward to register an emotional support animal, therapy animal, or service animal. Registrations through the National Service Animal Registry are quick, easy, and very affordable. Simply click on the appropriate category for registration and follow their easy instructions. You’ll be given options to purchase different products to make sure your dog is good to go. For instance, you’ll receive certificates, ID cards and leash clips, and the option of receiving electronic copies of your registration documents. Depending on your dog’s type of registration and your assistance animal needs, you can choose what kind of registration kit you and your pup require. If you move around a lot and travel is a big part of your life, you may want to opt for the premium kits to keep you and your assistance dog protected. Check out their website today for more information!

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Everything You Need to Know about Emotional Support Cats

If you’d like your emotional support animal to accompany you on planes or live with you in otherwise restrictive housing, ESA registration is key. With the appropriate documentation, your rights can be protected. Lacking these essential documents, you’ll have a much more difficult time and could be rejected outright. Emotional support animals can be tremendously helpful, especially if you deal with stress, anxiety, or depression. While ESA and service dogs get a lot of attention and are quite popular, emotional support cats make excellent companions as well. The process is easier than most people think.

Emotional Support Animals

If you have a mental illness and feel that an emotional support animal could be helpful, the first thing you should do is speak with a psychologist, psychiatrist, or therapist. They can discuss the benefits with you, and they should be able to determine if an emotional support cat may be the right choice for you.

Your ESA cat doesn’t have to undergo any specialized or formal training course. This is a common misconception. The primary purpose of an emotional support animal is to give their owner comfort, companionship, and emotional support. An ESA cat could help reduce anxiety, alleviate stress, and could even help you get better sleep. To qualify as an ESA, your cat does have to be well behaved and toilet trained.

Registration

The registration process isn’t overly difficult or complicated. A licensed mental health professional, such as your therapist, can provide you with a prescription letter verifying your need for an emotional support animal. You may visit the National Service Animal Registry website to register your animal. After registration, you’ll receive an Animal ID Card. It should have a picture of your cat on it, as well as additional information. This includes information about your legal rights. It’s important that you keep track of these documents, so you have proof of registration. Airlines and landlords are well within their rights to request proof that your ESA cat is a registered service animal.

Legal Rights

Legally speaking, an ESA cat has several benefits compared to an unregistered animal. The Fair Housing Act allows emotional support cats to be considered as assistance animals. What does this mean for you? Your ESA cat can’t be discriminated against when it comes to housing. Apartments, condos, and other housing that would otherwise have size restrictions or not allow animals at all can’t prevent you from keeping and living with your ESA cat. Additionally, you shouldn’t have to pay a deposit for your ESA cat.

Thanks to the Air Carrier Access Act, your ESA cat can accompany you in the cabin. As you know, animals often have to fly separately. However, your registered animal should be allowed to stay with you in the cabin instead. Remember that almost all airlines require documentation to be provided before boarding. Be sure to have it ready to hand. The airline will need to verify it beforehand.

As you can see, registering your ESA cat shouldn’t be a big challenge. Yet, there are many great perks that come with registration. If you think you could use the assistance of an emotional support animal, be sure to speak with a mental health professional. Your therapist should be happy to help you determine if an ESA cat would be right for you. Contact National Service Animal Registry at (866) 737-3930 to learn more about emotional support animals and the many ways they could assist you.

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Tips to Qualify for an ESA Dog

Nearly one in four people in the United States experiences some kind of emotional or mental condition. Getting treatment for mental health conditions is not always easy. Sometimes, however, the solution may be found in your very own home. Emotional support animals can make a huge difference for so many people. But how do you qualify to get one? Keep reading to learn a few essential tips for getting an emotional support dog.

Obtain an Emotional Support Animal Letter

To qualify for an emotional support animal, you will need to obtain an ESA letter from a certified mental health professional. You can get one of the letters from your therapist, psychiatrist, licensed counselor, or any other mental health doctor. If you are interested in getting an ESA, talk to your doctor to first decide if it is the right choice for you. They will evaluate your needs and determine if you would benefit from having a support dog. Following their assessment, they will write a letter stating that you have an emotional or mental condition and testify that an ESA is vital to your overall wellbeing.

The letter should be written on the doctor’s official letterhead. It should also include the date, their signature, their medical license number, and the date and place where their license was first issued. The letter remains valid for a year. Your landlord or airline carrier will usually request that the ESA letter is updated every year, so be sure to set yourself a reminder to renew it.

Know the Conditions for Which an ESA May Be Suggested

Mental health professionals only approve emotional support dogs if they believe they will be helpful. According to the DSM, there are a few different types of conditions where an emotional support animal can be beneficial as a treatment method. Some of these include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders
  • PTSD
  • Learning disabilities
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Mood disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Fear and phobias

Watch Out for Scams

Unfortunately, emotional support animal scams are all too common. Some websites promise to provide instant approval for an emotional support animal for a price. In the end, you wind up paying for documents that don’t mean anything. The only way to get approved for an ESA is by obtaining a letter from your mental health professional. If you come across a website that asks you to fill out an application or questionnaire, it’s likely a scam. There are also websites that claim to certify your pet. Emotional support registration is an excellent extra step to add to the process in order to further legitimize your emotional support pet. However, registration or certification does not mean anything without first getting approved by a doctor.

Don’t Lie to Your Therapist to Get an ESA

This goes without saying, but still, there are many people who take advantage of the emotional support pet system. ESAs are not traditional pets. By lying to obtain one, you are only hurting the real support pet owners who rely on their pets to make it through everyday life. Talk to a mental health professional to determine if getting an ESA is the right choice for you. If they conclude that it’s not, just adopt a traditional pet.

For more information about qualifying for an ESA or registering your pet, contact us at the National Service Animal Registry today.

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Understanding the Positive Effects of Emotional Support Animals

The average person who deals with depression, anxiety, or other health conditions does it on their own. Sure, they have health care providers and maybe a therapist, but for the most part, they have limited support. Friends and family get busy. Doctors and therapists are only available during regular office hours. An animal, on the other hand, doesn’t have a schedule and is always at your side. If you already have a cuddly pet, you know how important they are to your well-being. An emotional support animal (ESA) can change your life! Today’s post covers the impact ESAs have on their owner’s lives. Learn about the positive things you could experience with an ESA support dog by your side.

A New Look on Life

If you suffer from depression, you know it’s more than feeling tired or not up to par a few days a week. Depression takes over and moves in for the long-haul. Most people who deal with depression experience a range of symptoms, but one common thread is a loss of hope. It’s difficult to plod through daily life without hope for the future. People without hope often have trouble caring for themselves and others. Spending time with a pet, especially one with a wagging tail and soulful eyes, can alleviate the symptoms of depression. As your mood lifts, you’ll feel hopeful again. While not a substitute for medication prescribed by your doctor, you could think of an ESA as a component of your treatment program.

Help for Anxiety

There’s a reason why so many people bring their ESA when they travel, especially on airplanes. It’s not uncommon for people to get anxious when they fly. For some, the anxiety is paralyzing and, in extreme cases, prevents the person from traveling by plane, which can put a damper on seeing the world. Traveling with an ESA may help alleviate some of the anxiety. While taking anti-anxiety medication may work, an ESA offers a different kind of relief. When you focus on your dog, instead of the fear of airplanes, you’ll usually relax and even enjoy your travel experience. By the way, simply petting your ESA can relieve anxiety, whether you’re on a plane, or sitting in your living room.

They Love You Back

The joy of owning a pet is the unconditional love they give, no matter what. An ESA doesn’t care if you’re feeling out of sorts. They love you anyway! There’s nothing like the unconditional love of an animal, but it’s especially helpful to a person with emotional health issues. It’s not uncommon for a person who has a mental health condition to feel unlovable. At the least, they may not feel like being around people. Your ESA will stay by your side, loving you right through the dark moments.

An Integral Part of Treatment

While they’re not a substitute for medical or mental health care, ESAs work as part of your overall treatment. Whether you exercise or practice mindfulness, you can incorporate time with your ESA into your treatment methods. When you need to ground yourself, you can focus on your animal. If you use exercise, your ESA can help motivate you to walk or run every day. Since they’re an essential part of treatment, you should consider ESA dog registration. Registering your ESA opens up a world of benefits, including the ability to show people that your animal is a legitimate support animal. For help with registration, contact National Service Animal Registry at (866) 737-3930 today!

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Delta Airlines and United Airlines: New rules for animals

Many people find travelling stressful. Those of us who have Service Dogs or Emotional Support Animals might be nervous about going to an unfamiliar environment, and worried about the journey itself.

Thankfully, we have the right to take our Service Dogs and Emotional Support Animals along when we fly. Both United and Delta welcome certified animals on flights but in most cases, you will need to prepare documentation in advance and follow the rules governing animals on aircraft. Documentation may be required even if your Service Dog or Emotional Support Animal is registered with the National Service Animal Registry (NSAR).

The aim of this article is to provide you with all the information you need so you can prepare for your trip. We will provide links to the required documents, make sure you know all the rules about what to do with your pet in the airport and on the plane, and provide details about who to contact if you have any problems or concerns during the journey. We will also provide contact details and advice about traveling internationally with your Service Dog or Emotional Support Animal.

What documents do I need?

Service Dogs

Service dogs are defined by the airlines as dogs that help people who are blind or visually impaired, are deaf or hard of hearing, have epilepsy, seizures or mobility restrictions.

Delta

Documentation required: Passengers traveling with Service Dogs on a Delta flight may be asked to show a completed Veterinary Health Form and an immunization record or proof that all immunizations are up-to-date within the last year. These forms are available to download here.

How to submit documentation

It is advised but not required for people traveling with Service Dogs to submit these records to the airline prior to travel. Submission can be done online, up to 48 hours before the flight. Click on My Trips and submit using the Accessibility Service Request Form.

Do you have questions?

If you have any questions about the documentation required for your trip, how to submit it or any other concerns about your journey call Delta on 404-209-3434.

United

Documentation required: Passengers traveling with a Service Dog on a United domestic flight are not required to complete documentation. Remember, documents may be required for passengers traveling to international destinations, so check with the appropriate consulate before you travel.

Do you have questions?

If you have any questions regarding documentation or other aspects of your trip, call United on 1-800-228-2744.

Emotional Support Animals

Emotional Support Animals are defined by the airlines as animals that assist people with emotional, psychiatric, cognitive and psychological disabilities.

Delta

Documentation required: Passengers traveling with an Emotional Support Animal on a Delta flight are required to download and fill out three forms.

  1. Veterinary Health Form or completed vaccination records that show the dates of vaccinations and name of the veterinary office where they were administered. All vaccinations must be up-to-date within a year of the travel date.
  2. Medical/Mental Health Professional Form confirming the passenger needs to travel with their Emotional Support Animal.
  3. Confirmation of Animal Training Form.

How to submit documentation

Passengers traveling with Emotional Support Animals must submit the completed forms to the airline prior to travel. Submission can be done online, up to 48 hours prior to the flight. Click on My Trips and submit using the Accessibility Service Request Form.

When you arrive at the airport, visit the check-in desk where a Delta representative will verify your request to travel with your Emotional Support Animal. Passengers must carry paper copies of the forms on the trip.

Do you have questions?

If you have any questions about the documentation required for your trip, how to submit it or any other concerns about your journey call Delta on 404-209-3434.

United

Documentation required: Passengers traveling with an Emotional Support Animal are required to download and fill out three forms.

  1. Medical/Mental Health Professional Form to confirm that you need to travel with your Emotional Support Animal.
  2. Passenger Confirmation of Liability and Emotional Support/Psychiatric Service Animal Behaviour Form.
  3. Veterinary Health Form which includes vaccination information.

How to submit documentation

All documents must be emailed to uaaeromed@united.com up to 48 hours before the time of the flight. If the documentation is not submitted in time or can’t be verified by the airline, the passenger might have to transport the animal as a pet and pay the requisite fees.

Do you have questions?

If you have any questions regarding documentation or other aspects of your trip, call United on 1-800-228-2744.

Can Animals In-Training travel in the cabin?

Service Dogs or Emotional Support Animals In-Training usually do not meet the requirements set by the airlines so the passenger will need to make arrangements for them to be transported as a pet and pay the appropriate fee.

Exceptions: Delta – A Service Dog or Emotional Support Animal In Training will be allowed to travel on a flight if they are being taken to their new owner by a certified trainer or if they are receiving additional training.

Exceptions: United – United allow certified trainers to bring an animal onboard for training purposes but if they are traveling with animals in the normal course of their business they must check them in as a pet.

Are there any reasons why my Service Dog or Emotional Support Animal might not be allowed to travel?

Animals other than dogs and cats are assessed on a case by case basis. Some animals are not permitted at all such as many reptiles, insects, and rodents because of health and safety concerns.

Dogs will be not be allowed to travel in the cabin unless they are under control. They must either be leashed or in a carrier. They may not be allowed to travel if they growl, jump up or bark at other passengers unless this is a trained response. Animals must remain with their owner at all times. Unaccompanied animals are not allowed in the cabin.

Animals may be refused if they are dirty or smell. Animals must not relieve themselves in the gate area or on the aircraft. All US airports are required to have an Animal Relief Area.

Where will my Service Dog or Emotional Support Animal sit on the aircraft?

Animals are expected to sit on the floor and they must not encroach into the floor space of other passengers or the aisle as this would contravene FAA regulations. Animals are not allowed on any seats designed for people, or on the back-seat food trays.

Delta: Animals can sit on the lap of the passenger for all stages of the flight, including take-off and landing as long as they are not bigger than a two-year-old child. If the Service Dog or Emotional Support Animal is too big to occupy the space under the seat, or the passenger’s lap they can be checked in as baggage at no extra cost to the passenger. Alternatively, the passenger can purchase another seat at the price he originally paid. On Delta, animals can use flat-bed seats.

United: United stipulate that an in-cabin kennel can be used as long as it fits in the floor area of the passenger’s seat.

Am I allowed to bring more than one Service Dog or Emotional Support Animal?

Airlines now only permit a single Service Dog and/or Emotional Support Animal on flights. The passenger must ensure there is enough space for them on the floor without them exceeding the footprint of the seat. If there isn’t enough space, the passenger will have to purchase an additional seat, but remember the animal will not be allowed on the seat, only on the floor or the passenger’s lap.

How much must I pay to transport my Service Dog or Emotional Support Animal?

Passengers will not be charged for their Service Dog or Emotional Support Animals as long as they have the correct documentation. On Delta, if they are checked as baggage they will not be charged, and they do not count towards the baggage allowance. Delta also does not charge for transporting items associated with the animal such as their kennel, blanket, toys, and food.

What should I do if I have a problem?

Delta: If you have any problems during your flight or in the airport ask to see a Complaint Resolution Official (CRO).

United: If you have any problems during your flight or in the airport ask to be connected to the United Accessibility Desk 1-800-228-2744.

Additional regulations

Airports with restrictions

Some airports such as Palm Beach International Airport (PBI), Greenville Spartanburg Airport (GSP), and John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK) have additional regulations.

PBI and GSP require animals to be crated from the lobby to the gate. JFK requires animals to go through Transport Security Administration (TSA).

International travel

Some countries have additional regulations such as a requirement to carry a pet passport, additional documentation or quarantine requirements.

Cuba: Service Dogs and Emotional Support Animals will be treated as pets on arrival in Cuba and will need a Pet Certificate. Contact your local Cuban embassy in advance of travel.

Brazil: Service Dogs and Emotional Support Animals are permitted on Delta flights between the US and Brazil, but only trained Guide Dogs are allowed on internal flights within Brazil on Delta’s partner airline, GOL.

Hawaii: Contact the Hawaii Animal Quarantine Branch or check out the Hawaii Department of Agriculture website for information about bringing an animal into Hawaii.

Republic of Ireland: Information about bringing an animal into Ireland is available from the Irish Department of Agriculture Website.

United Kingdom: Information about bringing an animal into the UK is available from the U.K. Government website.

For other international destinations, consult the relevant embassy or consulate in advance of your travel date. If animals aren’t allowed in any of the countries on your route you will not be allowed to fly with them.

Animals coming into the US

According to Center for Disease Control (CDC) regulations, all animals entering the US must be immunized against rabies and proof of vaccination must be given before travel.

Tips for traveling with your Service Dog or Emotional Support Animal

In summary, this is what to do to ensure you have a smooth flight with your Service Dog or Emotional Support Animal.

  • Vaccinations: Ensure your Service Dog or Emotional Support Animal’s vaccinations are up-to-date within a year of travel.
  • Documentation: Print off and fill in all required documentation well in advance of your flight date.
  • Submission of documents: Submit either though MyTrips (Delta) or email uaaeromed@united.com (United) at least 48 hours before your flight.
  • Destination regulations: Check out all the destinations on your journey. Ensure that all countries allow transportation of Service Dogs and Emotional Support Animals in the cabin. Check if your destination has additional regulations for traveling with Service Dogs or Emotional Support Animals such as pet passports or quarantine requirements.
  • Seating arrangements: Ensure your Service Dog or Emotional Support Animal will not exceed the footprint of your seat. If it is larger, make arrangements to purchase an additional seat or transport your pet in the hold.
  • At the airport: Make sure you allow time for your pet to relieve themselves before you take them to the gate. Remember all US airports have an Animal Relief Area.
  • Boarding time: If you require additional time to board, arrive at the gate with enough time to make arrangements with airline staff.

Last words

We have the right in law to take our Service Dog or Emotional Support Animal on domestic flights in the US and often overseas. Make sure you are clear about the rules that govern traveling with animals before you fly, and make the necessary preparations. If you have any questions or concerns about your trip, contact Delta on 404-209-3434 or United on 1-800-228-2744 as they will be able to advise you about your specific case.

With some forward planning and preparation, you will be able to enjoy a smooth journey and a successful trip with your Service Dog or Emotional Support Animal. If you want to make your dog a service dog or emotional support animal, click here.

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Best Emotional Support Dogs for Anxiety

As we learn more about mental and emotional disorders, more and more people are being diagnosed with problems like depression and anxiety daily. We live in a highly demanding, highly stressful world, and it’s little wonder that it seems just about everyone deals with some level of anxiety as a result. If you suffer from anxiety that significantly impacts your day-to-day life, you might consider getting an emotional support animal to help. These are the breeds we recommend for helping you cope with anxiety. If you have a support dog, remember to get an emotional dog support vest to clearly mark them as more than just a pet.

Spoiler: There’s No Wrong Answer

First, let’s get straight to the most important thing about choosing a dog for your anxiety. There’s no single dog breed that is better than others for this task. Unlike disability service dogs, which are typically one of only a handful of different breeds, any breed of dog can be an emotional support animal. In fact, the best breed for you will depend on your unique circumstances, needs, and even the cause of your anxiety. Now that we’ve given away the ending let’s get into more details about choosing the right dog for your anxiety.

Temperament Matters Most

If you don’t already have a dog, the first thing you need to consider is the general temperament of the breed you’re considering for your ESA. This is a dog that you need to be able to rely on for love and support when you’re feeling at your worst. This means you want a breed that is generally calm, friendly, affectionate, and loyal. While any dog can have these traits, regardless of their breed, some breeds do tend to have calmer and more affectionate temperaments than others, so do a little research before selecting a dog as your ESA.

Additionally, consider the energy levels of this breed. Is this a dog breed that tends to bark a lot or constantly want to run and play? Then it may not be the best breed for you. After all, you don’t want your dog to be wriggling away from you the moment you need a soothing cuddle.

The Right Size

This is one of those factors that will vary from one person to another. Small dogs work well as ESAs because they’re much easier to bring with you. They can fit into a bag or purse or easily be carried with you when traveling. This is much more difficult to do with a large dog.

However, if your anxiety is best soothed by full-body contact and calming pressure (you may currently rely on a weighted blanket to help you relax), then a large dog might work better for your needs. They can lay down with you and give you that reassuring presence your anxiety needs.

The Root of Your Anxiety

You should also work with a mental health professional to determine the root of your anxiety, as well as any associated triggers, as these may factor into the breed you select as your ESA. For example, is your anxiety connected to concerns for your personal safety? Then you might be more soothed by a large breed that you feel can protect you from potential threats. Is your anxiety often triggered by loud or repetitive sounds? Then you’ll want a dog breed that tends to be quieter; these include both large and small breeds, from pugs to Saint Bernards, so you can feed a dog that is quiet and fits your preferences for size as well.

Choosing a dog as an ESA can be much more complicated than simply picking a pet. But once you find the best support animal, you’ll discover just how much of a difference they can make in your life. And don’t forget to purchase an emotional support dog kit so that your canine partner has everything they need to perform their job as your ESA.