|Emotional Support Animals are animals that provide a therapeutic benefit to
someone with a mental or psychiatric disability. While an ESA is usually a
dog or cat, other animals, such as reptiles, are also being used as ESAs.
Emotional Support Animals are prescribed by a medical professional
to help with a verifiable disability.
|Emotional Support Animals are not to be confused with Service Animals, the difference being that Service Animals are dogs, and sometimes miniature horses that perform certain tasks to help someone with a disability with their everyday life, such as a dog reminding its owner to take its medication or a dog trained to be a Seeing Eye Dog. ESAs provide different benefits to alleviate symptoms of a disability, often to alleviate anxiety or stress.
|While Service Animals are dogs and miniature horses, ESAs can be almost any type of animal, as shown by Megan Curran in Waco, Texas. Megan has a Bearded Dragon named Chief that she carries with her every day to help her alleviate her panic attacks. These ESAs provide, like Megan, a focus point to help alleviate the stress or discomfort provided by their disability.
|Service Animals are protected by law from being denied entry or service in any public place, but ESAs are not. ESAs are only protected under the Federal Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 and the Air Carrier Access Act which state that owners of ESAs are able to live in housing that would normally not accommodate pets and they are able to fly with their ESA.
|Here are some links if you would like to do more research on ESAs: