According to the World Health Organization, one in every four people will suffer from some kind of a mental health disorder. Currently, around 450 million people have been diagnosed with mental disorders.
There are several treatments available to cure or minimize the symptoms, but two-thirds of the affected population don’t seek medical treatments. Blame it on the stigma attached with mental and emotional disorders, or it being considered as a taboo topic, or simply because the cost for these treatments seems too high.
This is where an emotional support animal (ESA) comes into play.
What are emotional support animals?
Emotional support animals are assistance animals or companion animals who have been used as a coping mechanism for people suffering from emotional disabilities. These support animals have proven beneficial in providing their owner with a sense of comfort with their constant companionship and support.
These animals, however, are not individually trained for performing special tasks. Unlike service animals, who help people and provide assistance with their physical disabilities such as, blind or deaf people use guide dogs to help lead the way or alarm them in different situations, or therapy dogs who assist people in difficult situations.
The sole purpose of emotional support animals is to provide companionship and to decrease the symptoms related to emotional or mental disorders such as stress, anxiety, social anxiety, panic attacks, mood disorder, phobias and fear and several other psychological conditions.
Misconceptions about emotional support animals?
The use of emotional support animals to help alleviate symptoms attached with their mental and emotional health has become fairly popular. But there still is a lot that people don’t know when it comes to properly keeping an emotional support animal.
One of the myths is that an emotional support animal is the same as a service animal, and the two have the same rights and laws.
Service dogs same as emotional support dogs?
As mentioned above, the two are not the same thing and are there for entirely different purposes. That can only mean that the two have different laws and the process of obtaining them differs too.
You do not need a doctor’s note or a letter to keep a service dog and to have them accompany you in public places.
However, you need to have a licensed therapist or any other mental health professional write an ESA letter for you to keep an emotional support animal with you at all times.
This letter allows you to legally keep an ESA animal after your symptoms and conditions have been carefully examined. You qualify for an emotional support animal if you are suffering from any of the following mental or emotional disorder:
If you are suffering from these or any other emotional disability and have an assistance animal, you will be asked to show your ESA letter before entering a public place. But in case of a service animal, you can verbally tell the authorities about your disability and the tasks your dog or animal is trained to perform.
If you find it embarrassing having to inform people verbally every time you step out of the house, you can simply make an ID card to verify your service animal.
How can an ESA Letter help you?
Several laws have been enforced to protect the rights of people with emotional and mental issues. Such as the disabilities act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in any walk of life.
An ESA Letter protects rights of people with emotional disabilities by enabling their ESA to accompany them everywhere.
Under the fair housing act, ESA owner’s can find pet housing easily without having to pay additional charges or pet fee.
The air access carrier act allows you to travel with your ESA without any fee and troubles.
Another confusion that people mostly have is whether or not they need to register their emotional support animal.
The answer to that is “NO”. There is no such thing as an “ESA registration.”
You will find plenty of websites offering to register your pet in their database, remember that they are a scam and look the other way.
There is no legal or official registry for your emotional support animal, the only document you need to have your ESA legally accompany you wherever you go is an ESA Letter.
Does my support dog require a vest?
The most common question emotional support animals’ owners have is whether their support animal requires a vest identifying them as an emotional support animal or not?
The simple answer to this is, no. Federal laws such as the Fair Housing Act and the Air Carrier Access Act have been made to allow people with disabilities to keep an emotional support animal.
No such laws imposing the use of vests have been made where an emotional support animal needs to wear a vest or have an ID identifying them as a support animal.
Having said that, using vests to identify your dog as an emotional support animal is quite helpful and is highly recommended for the owner’s own convenience.
The purpose of these vests is to distinguish your animal as a support animal and is helpful in public places such as at the airport. Wearing distinguishable vests allows landlords, and others to know that this animal is more than just a pet and they can help look for it in case your dog decides to run off.
In addition to that, it is recommended for an ESA owner to put labels such as “do-not-pet” or a “working dog” tag on their support animals. This ensures that people won’t come up to your dog wanting to pet it; this just avoids any distractions.
Your support animal can only help in keeping you calm and reduce your stress when they are not distracted by random people coming up to them and petting them.
Putting identification vests on your pet to identify them as an ESA with a vest is a lot more convenient for you, rather than having to tell everyone yourself.
This is why service animal owners do choose to put a vest on their animals. It helps identify them as a service animal and to avoid any confusion and unnecessary hassle.
Dog vest measurements
If you decide on getting a vest for your pet to help identify them as an ESA, the first thing you will need to do is measure them properly. These vests are only used for the cases where an ESA is a dog or a cat, pets such as ducks or rabbits do not need support vests.
How to measure your dog for a vest?
To order a vest for your pet, you must first take its proper measurements. The correct way to do is to take a flexible measuring tape and measure the girth while your dog is standing.
Do this by going around his body and behind the front legs with the measuring tape, making sure to go underneath the widest part of its rib cage.
There are plenty of shapes and designs you can choose when ordering an identification vest.
What fabric to choose?
You can choose any fabric material for your dog depending upon your preference. You can use vests made up of mesh if you live in a hot and humid weather, dogs working in other areas can go for cotton or other materials. Make sure to avoid synthetics as they tend to be uncomfortable.
What style to choose from?
Dog vests come in different styles; the four most popular ones are padded vests, backpack vests, mesh vests, lightweight cotton vests.
Padded vests weigh the same as of the weight of your lightweight winter jacket; they come with a handle for outdoor walks.
Backpack vests are useful for people who have a lot of stuff to carry around like a student with books.
Light-weight cotton vests are ideal for wearing throughout the entire year, and they have pockets incorporated to hold id cards.
Mesh vests as the name suggests are made up of mesh and is beneficial in hot places.
These vests are available online and you can easily purchase them from websites like Amazon and eBay.
Is a dog vest all you need to travel with your support dog?
In addition to an identification vest, you are legally required to obtain an ESA letter from a licensed mental health therapist in order to keep your pet with you at all times.
If you are looking for a legitimate place to get your ESA Letter, then look no further and contact the licensed mental health professionals at realesaletter
Were you able to successfully measure your pet for an emotional support dog vest? Which fabric and style do you think fits best for your dog?
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