Man's Best Friend May Be Your Best Medicine Too

31 August 2016
 Categories: , Blog

If you suffer from a mental disability, you may find that a dog or cat helps provide emotional support. Should this be the case, you will want to talk to your physician about an emotional support animal (ESA).

An emotional support animal does not need special training. They are usually your beloved household pet. ESA's are typically dogs, but yours may be a cat or other small domesticated animal. As long as your pet provides comfort and helps to minimize emotional symptoms brought on by your disability, it is on its way to helping you qualify.

Let's look in more depth at how and why an ESA is prescribed.

The Need

The first step you must take is showing that you have the need for an animal companion.

Emotional disabilities can and do hinder people from performing daily activities. If you suffer from an emotional impairment, and a household pet helps you function, you are on your way to being able to qualify for having an ESA.

Disabilities that fall into the category of emotional include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Panic Disorder
  • Personality Disorder
  • Social Phobias

Obtaining the Letter or Prescription

Any licensed mental health provider can issue a prescription for their patient to have an ESA. They will need to do an emotional support animal evaluation and determine that you suffer from an emotional disorder and your pet does provide the treatment you need. Once this is determined, the mental health professional will write a letter on their letterhead to whomever necessary. The letter will need to state:

  • That you are currently a patient under their care.
  • You are being treated for a valid mental health issue.
  • Your disability inhibits you from performing at least one normal daily function
  • The pet is necessary and being prescribed for your treatment.

They must also provide their licensing information in the letter.

Why Would You Need a Prescription Letter?

You may need a letter stating you need your animal companion if you are moving into a rental property that otherwise does not allow pets. Most landlords cannot refuse you based on the fact that you have an ESA. The pet must be well behaved, and no pose a danger to anyone.

ESA's are allowed on airplanes and do not have to be in a carrier under a seat. Airlines must also waive any fees they typically charge for pets when the pet is an emotional support animal.

There may be other instances where you will be required to show an ESA letter. This means it is important to maintain an ongoing relationship with your mental health provider.