Time for a pop quiz:
When you’ve had a terrible day at work, what do you do to combat your stress at the end of the day?
a. A little retail therapy, either online or in the store
b. Turn to comfort food. There’s no problem macaroni and cheese can’t solve
c. Get a massage to relax your muscles
d. Cuddle with your pet. There’s no substitute for a trusted friend
If you have a dog, cat, hamster, rabbit, horse or otheranimal sharing space in your home, chances are you’ll seek comfort from their unconditional love. Although they don’t know the reason for your problems and can’t help you work through them, they provide endless amounts of reassurance and calmness that can refresh your soul.
Now, imagine that you have anxiety, autism, post-traumatic stress disorder or another physical or mental condition that multiples theaverage stress level by 10 times or more. This is where an emotional support animal comes in. Although they receive no specialized training, these intuitive animals can often sense when their human is in need of extra love and attention.
Unlike many adults, individuals with special needs oftenaren’t able to employ typical coping skills that can help reduce mounting tension and return them to a sense of calm. However, the repetitive motion of petting a furry dog or fluffy cat, when combined with a pet’s steady breathing and calming demeanor, can make all the difference for someone on the verge of a breakdown. The therapeutic benefits are immeasurable and can boost the quality of life for people, particularly those who struggle with being around strangers in public or being exposed to a new experience that makes them scared.
Most emotional support animals are dogs, but any animal thata person makes an emotional connection will work, including cats,horses, rabbits, pigs, birds and monkeys. The only requirement is that they offer affection and companionship to a person in need.
If they are so vital in some people’s lives, why doemotional support animals have a bad rap?
That’s hard to say, but the problem could stem from two distinct areas:
Unlike service animals, emotional support animals aren’t required to undergo any specialized training
- In order to have their pet travel with them, some people received attention for trying to bring some unusual animals, like a small pony, alligator and fish on flights, essentially demeaning the true value of an emotional support animal.
- In order to be confirmed as an emotional support animal, pets must be certified through a physician, psychiatrist, social worker orother mental health professional. These professionals must verify and substantiate that the animal alleviates one or more symptoms of an existing disability.
Keep in mind; however, that emotional support animals do not enjoy the same level of protection to be in public that service animals do and can be denied entry into stores and other public places.