Are you dealing with an emotional upset or trauma? Are you experiencing a temporary illness? Have you ever considered adding a pet to your home? The truth is that many experience healing through the emotional support of animals. For this article I will focus on service dogs but there are many joys of owning various four legged friends.
Do you or someone you know have high blood pressure or other medical conditions that are stress-induced?
Is there someone elderly in your life that feels alone and uncared for?
These situations and many many more are being helped and even healed through the support of animals.
Ever Heard of Pet Therapy?
Pet therapy is a term that is used to speak about animal assisted activities and animal assisted therapy. This is a growing field that is using dogs or other animals to help people cope and improve with certain health problems such as cancer, high blood pressure, mental or psychological disorders and heart disease, just to name a few.
There are many categories to animal assisted therapy, one being the emotional support of an animal specifically a service dog. The emotional support dog is a companion animal that provides support and therapeutic benefits to those with mental or psychiatric disabilities. These dogs have been given the gift of being able to live in homes under the fair housing amendment act of 1988, whereby they are support to those with documented emotional, mental or psychiatric disabilities.
The emotional support dog does not have any specific training but they have proven to help alleviate some of the symptoms of these psychological or mental disabilities. The emotional support animal can be a dog or a cat which is most typical, but not confined to either one of those exclusively its greatest benefit is through companionship to its owner.
It brings great comfort to individuals with psychiatric disabilities and mental impairments that may deem a person unable to function comfortably and society. This animal is not trained to do specific tasks, but rather to be there in an unconditional way, providing rest peace, comfort and joy to their owner.
Another tremendous support to those in need is the service dog. There is service dog certification that can be acquired. These dogs are trained to perform tasks and do work specifically for people with disabilities.
This can be for anyone that is deaf, blind, those with autism, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy or seizure disorders, pulling a wheelchair, and even those who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder. There are many other physically disabling conditions that utilize a service dog.
Service dog certification allows the dog to have access to just about anywhere the general public visits. This would include movie theaters, taxis, airplanes, supermarkets, restaurants, and would allow people with certified service dogs to live in homes or facilities where pets are generally not allowed.
Service dogs can be trained by professionals or even an individual. There is no recognized certification for service dogs or the trainers. Some dogs will wear a vest or some other apparatus to designate that they are a service dog. Although this is not required, and not all do.
There are emotional support animal laws that protect you if you have an emotional support animal.
One of the main advantages is the place where you choose to live. The fair housing act for emotional support animals or service animals says that you must provide a emotional support animal letter from a licensed psychiatrist, psychologist or therapist on their letterhead.
Your family doctor will not suffice in this regard. The letter must state that you are emotionally, psychologically or psychiatrically disabled, and there is a prescription stating that you are to have an emotional support animal. If this letter is not provided, then you would be in violation of the federal law, which is punishable by fine and in imprisonment, if convicted.
There are more specific regulations under this law, which we will not go into in this article, although I will say that buildings with four or less units where the landlord is in one of them is excluded.
Also excluded are single-family homes that are sold or rented, and do not include a real estate broker. Hotels and motels and other public accommodations are not covered under the Americans with disabilities act and neither are private clubs.
Traveling With a Service Dog
Some airlines are very friendly about Service Dogs and the us airways pet policy as of this writing are:
- There is no limit to how many service animals you can take on a US Airways flight as long as they will fit in front of your seat or on your lap. Aisles must be kept clear.
- Any animal sitting on your lap must be the size of an infant or smaller.
- There are other restrictions on any flights that are outside of the continental United States. Please check with each and every airline before booking a flight.
- Service dogs fly for free if they are assisting a paid customer.
- Explosive dogs, search and rescue dogs, must be accompanied by their professional handlers.
- You must be able to show one of the following: an animal ID card, tags or harness, credible verbal assurance, or some other form of written documentation.
If you are reading this, you may already own a service or emotional support dog or other kind of service animal. Or you may be researching the possibility of acquiring or training one. In my experience I have found service animals to be quite remarkable, even Miraculous at times.
Depending upon the situation for which you would need a service animal you would be advised to find a professional trainer to support whichever kind of situation you need help with.
If you have a wonderful companion dog currently and would like to look into pet therapy alone, that is a wonderful way to give support to those that are looking for and needing comfort, caring, and loving in their lives at that point in time.
It is also very empowering and self-fulfilling when you give to others in this manner.
It is generally easy to have your dog be considered and trained for pet therapy. You can research this online to learn more about how you can take your dog into rest homes, hospitals, and other places that are in great need of support.
In general, remember that our pets are amazing healing support to virtually all of us and in all areas of life. It is becoming more recognized and acknowledged through research every single day.
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Author: Esateys Stuchiner
Esateys (pronounced Ee sáh teez) is an International Life Transformational Speaker, Author, Master Facilitator, Life Coach and Expert in the Human condition. She is a Nationally and Board Certified Nurse Practitioner. For over 30 years, she has practiced, taught and lectured extensively in the allopathic and alternative medicine field.
Esateys is known for her groundbreaking work in the areas of personal empowerment and health restoration using mindset and inner connection as the catalyst for all change.
Esateys describes herself as the ‘Architect of the New You’ and has dedicated her life and professional career to helping her clients create “New Beginnings” by facilitating self empowerment, economic freedom and restored health.
For more information, go to esateys.com.