National Pet Day: All about emotional support animals
Human beings crave love and loyal companionship. Animals have really stepped up to the task and have claimed a mantle known as "emotional support animals." Such animals mostly help the owner overcome some aspects of a disability and improve their mental health. Dogs and cats are the most common type of emotional support animals. However, there have been peacocks, ducks, pigs, etc. as well.
Emotional support animals are basically meant to help a person cope with a mental health issue. They stay with the person and help deal with anxiety, stress, etc. Such animals need to be officially certified by a practicing physician or mental health professional. Certification helps the person take the animal with them even on airplanes, however, each flight has its own set of rules.
According to a research review, emotional support animals have a positive effect on the owners and improve their mental health and emotional health. Such people were also found to cope better in times of crisis. Physical health benefits include lower blood pressure and decreased breathing rate. Animals are great companions and so also help eliminate feelings of isolation or loneliness.
While emotional support animals and service animals may sound similar, they are meant to serve in different ways. An emotional support animal provides you with therapeutic benefits, support, and companionship and doesn't require any special training. Service animals are specially trained to help a person suffering from certain disabilities. They remind the individual to take medicines on time and guide them throughout.
The Federal Fair Housing Act (US) has provisions for such animals. The federal law doesn't require the animals to wear a harness, tag, or clothing to prove their identity. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) permits such animals in buildings that have a no-pet policy. However, business establishments and places like malls and restaurants have the right to deny them entry.
Dogs and cats are the most popular emotional support animals. While any breed of dogs can suit the role, the calmer species are preferred. Cats also make great companions and petting them can lower cholesterol levels. They are more independent as compared to dogs. Apart from this, rabbits, ferrets, horses, and hedgehogs also make for excellent companions and offer a rewarding experience.