You Used to Be Able to Bring Your Support Dog on Your Trip
Get Your Certificate from a Mental Health Professional
By Lucy Hughes
You probably have noticed seeing more and more dogs wearing vests in places where you don’t normally see household pets. These support animals have an important job, to help out their masters with anxiety and other challenges.
Maybe you wondered if you could bring your dog or other emotional support animals on your next trip. And the answer is, yes. Well, it used to be yes but see the link above it is no longer an option for travelers in 2020.
The Air Carrier Access Act prohibits discrimination against passengers with disabilities. Airlines are required to accommodate passenger needs.
If you need your support animal to help relieve psychological symptoms associated with your disability, traveling with your animal is as easy as obtaining an emotional support animal letter.
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The letter explains that your animal is a part of your overall treatment plan and needs to come with you to provide relief from your symptoms and help you through your journey.
You can also utilize an emotional support animal vest or patch and a photo ID of your animal; however, all that is legally required is a letter from your medical or mental health professional.
Although having a vest or photo ID is not required, it can sometimes make a passenger feel more comfortable in that they do not have to identify the purpose of their animal. You can find out many airline’s official pet policies at this link.
We know traveling can be stressful, but provided you have the correct documentation, it can be easy and fun again knowing you have the support you need.
You can find out if you qualify to have a service animal by taking this screening test.
What’s the Difference Between Service and Support Animals?
According to Certapet, a company that helps people obtain the certifications they need to obtain permits for support animals there is a clear difference between a service dog and a support animal.
“When searching on the Internet about ESAs, (Emotional Support Animals) psychiatric service dog, emotional support animal prescriptions, emotional support dog letter, and emotional support dog registration, there is sometimes a blurred line.
“So to help you understand more about the full definition of an emotional support dog, here is some clarification.
“The only thing different about emotional support animals and service dogs is one is for mental health disabilities and one is for physical disabilities.”
Just like a Seeing Eye Dog helps a blind person navigate, the ESA helps a person with emotional challenges cope with living their daily lives.
While it’s true to some extent, it’s not the only that separates the two assistance animals apart.
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Like other emotional support animals, emotional support dogs do not require any specific training and there aren’t any qualifications or requirements for an emotional support dog.
It’s true! It’s a great way to distinguish a service dog and therapy dog, which are both trained in their own separate ways.
Also, service dogs are guide dogs who have public accommodation and permission to enter a lot of public establishments. Emotional support animals or dogs do not.
“An emotional support animal prescription is your ESA letter AND a certification of your emotional support animal registration.”
An emotional support animal prescription is ONLY the ESA letter. Emotional support animal registration? Not a real thing. Be wary of any outfit that tries to convince you to ‘register’ your pet, it’s not necessary and won’t help you get on the plane with your animal.
Emotional Support Dog Registration: Is it Necessary?
Many pet owners think they can register their pets as ESAs. That isn’t true. There’s no such thing as an “emotional support dog registry” or “certification.” Companies selling these are fraudulent and out to get your money—and offer nothing worthwhile in return.
You need to consult a certified mental health professional who can interview you and provide legal certification about your need for an ESA, and provide you with the documents you’ll need when you travel.
What Disabilities Qualify for an Emotional Support Dog?
Social Anxiety Disorder
Your emotional support dog could help you overcome social anxiety fear and boost your self-confidence.
General Anxiety Disorder
Whether you’re constantly worried or have trouble concentrating, your ESA or emotional support dog can be there to relieve some of the daily anxiety.
Your emotional support animal or dog is there to comfort you if you struggle with depression and will be there to get you out of bed each morning.
Your emotional support dog could be there to calm you (sometimes this just means having them by your side) when you face a panic attack.
Having postpartum depression can be extremely tough, but your ESA or emotional support dog could help ease the pain you are going through.
No matter your alter in moods, energy or activity levels, your emotional support animal or dog could be your constant in the midst of irregular change if you suffer from bipolar disorder.
Having OCD is a real disorder and affects your day-to-day life. By being a pet owner to your emotional support animal or dog, you could have a furry friend to help you relax.
Your emotional support dog can help you with your urges and impulses not only with their sweet faces but also their ability to comfort you in need.
Phobias and Fears
It could be a fear of heights or fear of social situations; your emotional support animal or dog is there to reduce some of the stress.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder PTSD can be anything from nightmares to extreme worry/anxiety of past experiences, but your ESA or emotional support dog can be by your side during hard times and help you with your mental health.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
It’s difficult when dealing with depression at the same time every year so having your ESA or emotional support dog at your feet, hip, or head (it’s not just the small pets that do it either), you can start to feel a little bit better.
What Is an Emotional Support Animal?
An emotional support animal is the best friend individuals with disabilities can have. These loving animals shower their owners in love, affection, and companionship. They make living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, and so on much easier. Thanks to them, millions of Americans with a mental health disability can lead a healthier and happier life.
More often than not, you’ll find an emotional support dog or cat on a plane. Regardless of their breed, puppies and kittens are incredibly popular. Pit bulls, Persians, Saint Bernards, Siamese, you name it!
But there are other types of emotional support animals, too. In theory, almost every domesticated animal can become an ESA. Believe it or not, there are emotional support chickens, monkeys, pigs, turkeys, horses, and even kangaroos!
That is because the therapeutic human-animal bond is strong even with an unconventional animal. As long as you can form a tight bond with your pet, they could become your ESA.
Lucy Hughes is a freelance writer now living in Dubai. Her support animal is a tiny Chihuahua.