Do You Need a Support Animal? Here’s How to Find Out

pet and owner

There are three main types of support animals that people can depend on for various reasons. There are highly-trained service dogs, psychiatric or therapy dogs, and emotional support animals with specific functions. These animals are there to provide comfort and support for their owners.

The reason why animals are perfect companions is that they are naturally emotional and calming creatures. People treat their pets as their own child or family to whom they pour all their love and affection towards without fear of being left behind.

But not all pets can provide you with the kind of support you will need to get through your daily battles against your own demons and disabilities. And not all kinds of pets can be brought wherever you need to go without question. Answer these questions to see what type of support animal you need:

Do you have a disability?

Dealing with a disability can be extremely difficult if you’re doing it on your own. Mundane everyday tasks such as getting medication and water when you need them or asking for help when you fall and can’t get up may feel like a burden when you don’t have the appropriate assistance.

Fortunately, these are tasks that were made for service dogs. The ultimate purpose of service dogs is to assist their handlers so that they can lead more independent lives despite their disability. These support animals go through serious dog training to make sure that they are fit for service.

And because service dogs are highly-trained animals who can save lives, they are only meant for people with serious disabilities and health conditions. If you’re going to get a service dog trained to meet your needs, you will need a recommendation from your medical doctor.

Since service dogs can assist their handlers, they are allowed inside public establishments such as restaurants, airplanes, and malls. They are also exempt from the “no pets allowed” rule in rental homes and dormitories.

Do you have a debilitating mental condition?

Living with a serious mental condition can be extremely difficult because although the illness doesn’t manifest in obvious ways, it can be causing internal conflicts and damage the person’s emotional stability. In such cases, having an emotional support animal by their side can be beneficial.

Basically, any animal can become an emotional support animal as long its presence is therapeutic for its owner. The best purpose these animals serve is to mitigate any psychological or emotional symptoms threatening to consume the owner during complicated situations.

Most emotional support animals can be trained to perform specific tasks, such as bring the phone to the owner during anxiety or panic attacks and creating distractions like licking the face, which can get the owner out of their head when their emotions become overwhelming.

However, like with service dogs, one would need a prescription letter from a mental health professional that states that the person requiring the presence of an emotional support animal has a debilitating condition. This prescription is important for situations that need legal documentation.

Do you see animals as companions?

golden retriever

Some people have so much love for their pets that they will want to bring them wherever they go. While this is okay in public spaces and pet-friendly communities, not all pets are allowed into places that the owner might want to bring them, especially if they are not counted as support animals.

Support animals are special companions for those who need them to function better, such as people with disabilities or debilitating mental conditions. If you don’t consider yourself as belonging to the groups of people mentioned, then it is your responsibility as a pet owner to domesticate them.

That can mean not bringing your pet to places where they aren’t allowed, particularly if there is a chance that they can be disruptive or aggressive towards other animals. This is because there is a growing issue of those faking their pet’s status as emotional support animals to get more benefits.

This is not to discount that the person can feel more comfortable with the presence of their pet, but taking advantage of the system can have serious repercussions on those who actually need service dogs or emotional support animals in their day-to-day life.

So if you believe that animals are good companions, but don’t really need them to perform certain tasks for you to function well, then you shouldn’t be treating them like support animals in the technical sense. In addition to that, you must not expect other people and establishments to give your pet the same treatment that they give to service dogs or emotional support animals.

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