What is an Emotional Support Animal?

The bond between a human and their dog is a special and deep connection. Dogs are great at offering affection and support to the people they live with. Living with them, playing with them and having them as our companions enriches our lives. Dogs are good at reading human emotion and responding to it. All of this is why dogs make great emotional support animals.

Emotional Support Animals are different from a pet and different from a Service Animal. Service dogs are trained to perform specific tasks for the person they live with, such as helping the blind make their way through their home and their community. They undergo rigorous training in order to perform these tasks. 

Dogs who operate as ESAs are there to provide comfort and support for a person with mental and/or emotional disabilities. They do not have to undergo training, but the person must have a diagnosed illness in order to qualify their dog as an ESA. This diagnosis must come from a licensed psychologist, psychiatrist or mental healthcare provider. To qualify for an ESA, the person must have some disability stemming from their mental or emotional diagnosis that their support animal assists them with. They cannot simply desire the companionship of a dog to qualify.

In order to receive waivers regarding pets in housing or on means of transportation such as airplanes, or in other circumstances where a pet is not normally permitted to be, the person must have a letter from their mental healthcare provider stating their need for the animal.

Dogs are well-suited for the role of emotional support providers. They have been bonding with humans for many years and their affection and companionship help all of us live happier lives.