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  • Emotional Support Animals; What’s the big deal? 

     What is the big deal with Emotional support animal letters? 

    Dogs are not emotionally supportive. 

    I’ll say it again, dogs are not emotionally supportive. 

    They are trained to do tasks that provide emotional support.

     I am not an animal behaviorist, I am a human behavioral therapist. So that is important to point out. When we look into a dogs eyes and feel their presence, our heart rate and blood pressure lowers. The dog does not come to us in order to help us, unless they are trained to do so. They may be curious or are very bonded to you and want to see what’s happening, but they don’t intentionally come to comfort you unless they have been rewarded with your praise for doing so. That is a task. 

    Even though my therapy dogs are trained to do many tasks and one is even a service dog, they trash my life on the daily. They are training me in patience and accountability. 

    Emotional support animals do not require any training. They are dogs just like any therapy or service dog who is trained to do tasks, but they are still a pet with just a piece of paper that allows them to stay in your housing and travel with you (at times). That paper is from your therapist, who signs their license on the bottom, for your untrained pet who you seek support from and reward that task. That is hard for a therapist to sign, just being honest. And that is why most counseling agencies do not allow it. 

    Have I ever signed an Emotional support animal letter?

    I have signed one letter for two dogs and one letter for a goldfish. Yes, a goldfish. Emotional support animals are allowed only two exceptions from pets. Stay in your house, and travel with you, on occasion. There have been two times that it was therapeutically beneficial for me two write those letters for a client and there were long conversations and more of a risk if I did not write the letter. One of those times, it did not turn out well at all. 

    What’s the alternative?

    When someone asks me about emotional support animals, I ask them one question, why not a service dog in training? The big difference is TRAINING. Your dog may not be able to complete their service dog training with the public access test so they may never be able to accompany you in public but they can do task to support you in your home. They can be part of your therapy plan and be more emotionally supportive. The main thing with service dogs in training, therapy dogs and emotional support animals is neither have public access rights. But an ESA will never be able to come to a Resturant, a service dog in training, at least has the opportunity to try to get there. 

    How do I start a Service Dog in training? 

    If the person is asking me these questions, then I already know if they qualify for a disability. There are a few other things to be aware of. Can you training a dog with the support of a dog trainer or do you need to have someone else train the dog? Both are possible. Then the big one, can you have the dog meaning housing and financial. Both of these are a concern with emotional support animals anyway. If your housing doesn’t allow a dog and your provider signs an ESA letter, then you get better and no longer need therapy, your dog will be homeless. So making sure you can house and support a dog is a primary concern when deciding If you should get a service dog. 

    At the Trauma Therapy Company, I do consultations and help you make a plan and see if training a service dog is a good fit for your emotional needs. 

    Schedule a free consultation today. 

    For more information

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