What is an emotional support animal?

An emotional support animal is a companion animal for an individual with a disability. A medical professional can help determine if someone can benefit from having an emotional support animal, typically a dog but some people prefer cats too.

To meet the definition and criteria for a disability, a medical professional must provide a note or letter about a verifiable physical, psychiatric, or intellectual disability.

The benefits of having an emotional support animals are, apart from therapeutic effects of the animal’s company, to be able to bring the animal when traveling and also to have the animal live in no pet housing.

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Your service dog or emotional support animal should wear a harness or vest to identify it as such. This will avoid confusion and situations where you’ll have to explain that your dog is not a pet, but a dog-at-work performing an important service.

In addition to the vest, always carry the necessary papers to further prove your animal’s status.

What is a service dog?

A service dog is an assistance dog for people with disabilities, and it has been trained to help with specific tasks.

The difference between a service dog and an emotional support animal (dog) is that the latter doesn’t have a training requirement.

There are several types of service dogs that can assist people with:

  • hearing problems
  • vision problems
  • mobility issues
  • psychiatric problems
  • seizures
  • diabetes
  • (and others)

Tools and equipment

It’s important to carry all identification papers and letters about your service dog or emotional support animal when you travel.

Always bring the latest papers from the vet about vaccinations and check ups.

In addition, it’s practical and useful to have a vest or harness for the dog that makes it stand out from the crowd and clearly identifies it as more than just a pet. This harness can have several functions, apart from visually identifying your dog, it may have pockets to store plastic bags and papers too.