Emotinal Support Animals

by Sue on December 27, 2012

Senator George Graham Vest, of Missouri, won a court battle over the shooting of a dog with a speech that included the line, “The one absolutely unselfish friend that a man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous, is his dog.” Read more of this moving eulogy at: http://www.warrensburg.org/drum.htm .

Dogs have shared their lives with humans for at least 14,000 years and possibly much longer. During those millennia dogs have been man’s helper, protector, and companion. According to the Humane Society of the United States, 39% of U.S. households include one or more dogs and 34% include one or more cats.

An Emotional Support Animal is a dog or other common domestic animal that provides theraputic support to a disabled or elderly owner through companionship, non-judgmental positive regard, affection, and a focus in life. If a doctor determines that a patient with a disabling mental illness would benefit from the companionship of an emotional support animal, the doctor write letters supporting a request by the patient to keep the ESA in “no pets” housing or to travel with the ESA in the cabin of an aircraft.

ESAs are not task trained like service dogs are. In fact little training at all is required so long as the animal is reasonably well behaved by pet standards. This means the animal is fully toilet trained and has no bad habits that would disturb neighbors such is frequent or lengthy episodes of barking. The animal should not pose a danger to other tenants or to workmen. But there is no requirement for fancy heeling or mitigating tasks since emotional support animals are not generally taken anywhere pets would not ordinarily go without permission (the exception being to fly in the cabin of an aircraft, even if the airline does not ordinarily accept pets).

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