Emotional Support Animals: Why ESA Pets Are Important

Emotional Support Animals: Why ESA Pets Are Important

Service dogs. We’ve all seen them on the other side of the street, waiting patiently at a stop sign, alert and ever vigilant. They’ve trained their whole lives for their very important job, and we all know we’re not supposed to pet them (which, let’s be honest, is basically torture, because DOGS. SERVICE DOGS.) So instead we must contain ourselves, and press onward. Service animals are reserved for animals with special training, but did you know that cats can be another type of therapy animal called emotional support animals?  GUYS. IT’S TRUE. And I’m here to tell ya ‘bout it.

DON’T Fake It ‘Til Ya Make It

Before we get into the process of how to register your cat to be an ESA, let’s start off by addressing a primary concern here – faking it. Guys, PLEASE do not register your pet as a fake service animal. It’s alarmingly easy to do so, with quite a few websites out there offering fake service animal registrations for a flat (and cheap) fee. Don’t do this. Not only is it against the law, but it’s generally a Not Very Cool thing to do, as what you’re doing is basically impersonating a disabled individual (not chill). On top of that, it subversively contradicts the needs of people who genuinely need them (also not chill). Don’t be “that guy”. Now that that’s out of the way, are you genuinely wondering what kind of conditions a service cat could make more manageable and want to know if you qualify for such a thing? Don’t worry, ya girl is here to help you through it.

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Emotional Support Animals To The Rescue

Unlike service animals who are trained to assist people with physical disabilities, animals such as dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, birds, and even monkeys (yes! Monkeys! Right?) can be registered as emotional support animals. These animals can help people who are suffering from anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, learning disabilities, and PTSD. Even our late space mom, Carrie Fisher (R.I.P), had a beloved emotional support dog, Gary, who was recently featured in this Vanity Fair article. Heck yeah, Gary! Bless.

If you or someone you know suffers from these conditions and would benefit from an ESA, the next step is to verify that the person in question is in need of one. To do this, you will need to procure a letter from a certified mental health professional (psychiatrist, therapist, etc.), written with his or her letterhead, license type, date of a license, license number, and the state which issued said license. This letter must affirm that the person is indeed in need of an ESA, and/or is a current patient who is seeking and in need of treatment.

Training And Benefits Of Emotional Support Animals

Unlike service dogs (and miniature horses. That’s right, mini horses can be trained as service animals!) who go through extensive training to help their owners with physical disabilities, ESAs need only but exist to help in their emotional support duties. They literally just… you know. Do their thing, by bein’ themselves. How like a cat, amirite?

Now that you know how to register your cat as a service animal, allow me to fill you in on the benefits! As a service animal, your cat cannot be denied permission to live with you* and can ride in aircraft cabins. Of course, the animal in question, though he or she need not go through any “official” training, must be generally well-relaxed and easygoing. Unfortunately, a cat who is especially squirrely, feisty, or otherwise unaccustomed to humans other than their owner may not fare well in public places.

For this reason, you must make sure that the animal you’re looking to register is up to the task. Additionally, it’s a good idea to keep your registration paperwork on your person at all times (some establishments may ask for it, so it’s a good idea, in general, to have it on ya just in case), ESAs do not require a vest – though it is helpful, not to mention CUTE! Other than that, you are free to enjoy the benefits of having your sweet kitty registered as an Official ESA!

UPDATE *An earlier version of this article stated that Emotional Support Animals permitted in public places.  This is not true.  The article has been updated to reflect that change.

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