Having a pet is both a major responsibility and a source of great joy. Dogs are known to be fluffy balls of energy that can improve your mood and make your life happier. However, dogs can do much more than being cute and energetic. They have unique abilities that qualify them to provide professional assistance for those who need it. Service dogs are trained to take care of their human companion and offer both physical and emotional support.
What Are Assistance Animals?
An assistance animal is the same as a service animal. According to The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) of the United States, service animals are specifically trained to perform tasks for a person with a disability. Emotional Support Animals (ESA) and therapy dogs are not considered under this act as service animals but still have their process and ensured rights under the Fair Housing Act and the Air Carriers Access Act.
The main difference between a service animal and an ESA is their training. Service animals, usually dogs, need special training to support specific disabilities. On the other hand, ESAs only require the basic training for any pet, with some having training in reacting during stressful situations.
Are You Qualified?
Service dogs or ESAs are specifically assigned to those with physical or mental illness or disability. Before you succumb to your desire of getting a service dog or ESA, you need to first ask yourself if you will benefit from its support. Identify the tasks in your life that would be made easier by having a service dog. They are usually ideal for people suffering from blindness or a visual impairment, as well as a physical disability that requires the use of a wheelchair.
As for ESAs, they are fitting for anyone suffering from an emotional or mental disorder. People with anxiety, depression, PTSD, or attention deficit disorder (ADD) in particular find aid in having an ESA. They can remind you to take your medication, ease anxiety in public spaces, detect signs of seizures, and react well in any stressful environment. They also help soothe children with autism and smell low blood sugar on a diabetes patient’s breath.
How To Get A Service Dog
Now that you’ve determined whether you qualify for a service dog or ESA, the process of getting each one differs in some ways, but are mostly similar. If you’re considering this decision, here are the steps to take for a smooth sail:
1. Get An Official Diagnosis
You might be aware of the symptoms you experience, and identified them as a certain mental illness, but that isn’t enough if you’re getting a service animal or ESA. If you’re suffering from anxiety or PTSD, having a service dog will not always be easy in places where pets are not allowed in. However, with an official diagnosis, and a prescription for an ESA by a professional mental health provider, those places are required by law to allow it.
2. Get An ESA Letter
To be allowed to bring your ESA on planes, trains, or housing with a ‘no pets allowed’ policy, you’ll need an ESA letter. This letter needs to come from a health care professional, establishing that you have a diagnosed illness requiring an ESA with their licensing information and dated signature.
It proves that an ESA would alleviate pain, or reduce symptoms you’re experiencing. If you’re looking to get an ESA in Kansas, the process is pretty straightforward. All you need is to take a free five-minutes eligibility test, speak to a therapist, and have your ESA letter mailed within 48 hours!
3. Get Your Animal
If you already have a dog that you’re attached to or saw one in a shelter that you can’t stop thinking about, you can give it the necessary training to become a service dog and it can qualify as an ESA as well. If you can’t bother to go through the training process, The ADI web site lists almost 80 agencies in the USA that can provide an assistance dog. Some agencies may put you through an interviewing process to make the decision. Don’t stress out too much about which breed of dog to choose from, any breed would do just fine as a service dog.
The process of getting a service dog itself is not that difficult. Even if you are faced with obstacles along the way, once you get your fluffy assistant, it’ll all be worth it. Just don’t forget to do your research about the difference between having a pet dog and a service dog before making the decision. You should also know your rights in traveling and housing with a service dog.
If you are interested in even more lifestyle-related articles and information from us here at Bit Rebels, then we have a lot to choose from.