Editorial by Alexandra Costello
Animals are everywhere in your daily life. But have you ever thought about how these animals can impact other people’s lives more than your own? Some animals aren’t just pets, they help their owners in more ways than one. Emotional support animals are there for companionship, not commands.
Emotional support animals, also called assistance animals, are not like service animals. Service animals are dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities, such as guiding someone who is visually impaired, pulling a wheelchair, alerting someone of a seizure, and calming someone with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The service dog is not limited to these jobs, but the job they do is directly related to the person’s disability. Emotional support animals, which are not limited to dogs, can be any animal. They provide therapeutic benefit to the owner through companionship. They provide support to those with psychiatric disabilities and other mental impairments. These animals do not have to be trained to perform any tasks, and are there to make sure the owner is alright.
Both of these animals are able to go into areas with a “No Pet” rule, and are allowed wherever the owner is. You are not allowed to question the person about their support animal, or about their disability. You cannot ask what the animal’s purpose is, even if it is not obvious. You can only ask if it is a support animal, if it isn’t obvious. Before you try to kick someone out for having a pet, please ask if it’s a service or support animal first. Even if it’s mandatory, please be polite. Emotional support animals are just as important as service animals, they help their owner by helping with their disabilities, just like service dogs. If you are thinking, “Whoa! If I just register my pet as a support animal, it can go anywhere!” Well in order to do that you have to have a mental disability. The animal can be anything you want, like a turkey, a pig, a rabbit, a dog, anything that will help you with your daily life.
People take comfort from being with their animals, and not some service dog they found. Some people are afraid of dogs, and prefer the option of an emotional support animal. They are amazing creatures, and are just as important as service animals.