A lot of people see dogs in public with a vest and think they are specially trained to do a specific task or guide their owner who may have a visual impairment. This is usually what people think when they see an Emotional Support Dog too! Surprisingly many people do not understand the difference between Service Dogs and Emotional Support Dogs. The truth is that Emotional Support Animals are completely different than Service Dogs. We’ve interviewed the public and found out 3 major myths about Emotional Support Animals that we’d like to clear up!
1. Only trained Animals Can Be Emotional Support Animals
While your Emotional Support Animal can be trained to do essential tasks but it doesn’t necessarily have to be trained to do anything specific. Many Emotional Support Animals were once household pets that became Emotional Support to their owners. These pets were primarily acting as an emotional support before a therapist recognized it’s importance in their patient’s life. These pets come to have an owner dependency that is so bonding, it is the reason for their ESA registration.
Pets can be the best types of Emotional Support Animals because the owner already has a bond with that animal. Often times an Emotional Support Animal can be recommended, and it is suggested that the best animals to adopt are from shelters. These animals are in high demand for becoming Emotional Support Animals because these dogs and cats often need a loving home. The main reason these animals make great ESA’s is because they need love and care as much as their owners. Many people find a stronger bond with an animal that has not been bred because these animals experience similar situations that owners can relate to.
This is another situation where the appropriate vest use and ID card can make the difference when recognizing an Emotional Support Animal.
2. I Have to Adopt an Animal that is Already ESA
This might be one of the most deterring factors for patients with a recommendation for an Emotional Support Dog. These patients often believe that specific animals can only be Emotional Support Animals. This is because people often confuse Emotional Support Animals with Service Dogs and Service Animals. This is extremely FALSE and is detrimental to the encouragement to obtain an Emotional Support Animal recommendation.
Studies have shown that increased satisfaction of life is experienced when Animals that are adopted from a shelter often become Emotional Support Animals. This is because many rescued animals are stranded or left behind by their families to fend for themselves. This type of animal can be a perfect match for humans who may have experienced similar situations or can bond with an animal that is in desperate need. Animals who are trained to be service dogs, often spend most of their life being manicured to attend to the needs of their owners. While a serious bond is formed between patient and animal, these animals (specifically dogs) have been trained to do a variety of skills.
3. Emotional Support Animals are the same thing as Service Animals
This was touched on in common myth 2, but there is most certainly a difference between Service Dogs and Emotional Support Animals. Both animals are just as important to their owners and their specific therapy plans. Because the public has been misinformed about the difference between Emotional Support Animals and Service Animals, there is a huge misconception about their counterparts.
For the most part, Emotional Support Animals work on the intangible disabilities their patients suffer from, they can have trained skills although if it an essential skill, these animals also fall under the Service Dog category. Animals who are serving a tangible and physical need to their owner and handler can be considered Service Animals. While the Emotional Support Dog is stabilizing their owners psychological and emotions, the Service Dog is working on the physical world around their owners to smooth their daily activities.
It is truly unfortunate how little is public about the difference between Emotional Support Animals and Service Dogs. Because of this lack of public knowledge, many utilizing their animals as Emotional Support do not understand that a recommendation from their therapist can be a positive addition to their therapy schedule. It is suggested that if a therapist or mental health professional is able to establish the Emotional benefits that an animal or household pet provides can make the appropriate recommendations to certification.