What Does an Emotional Support Animal Do?

The term emotional support animal was new to me until about a year ago. I was only familiar with service animals that are trained to perform tasks for people with certain disabilities like blindness or hearing loss. This was something much different. So what does an emotional support animal do? Basically they are considered as any domestic animal that provides comfort and emotional support to anyone with disabilities.

Who needs an emotional support animal?

Over two years ago, my daughter started having behavior problems at home and school. Since I was unaware of any event or drastic changes in her life that would have triggered the behavior I searched for answers. She was tested for behavioral disorders and the school and facility provided counseling to find out why she was struggling with life so much. They were finally able to diagnose her with extreme anxiety and depression. After I said no more to prescription medication when we tried it, one of her counselors suggested looking into an emotional support animal to help with her mental care. We obtained a prescription from a licensed mental health professional, and we now have a very cute cat named Snickerdoodle. Later we discovered that her father also has 2 emotional support cats that help him cope with his bipolar manic depression and PTSD. These animals provide a comfort and help ease the daily stress of someone with a mental disability.

What are emotional support animals?

Emotional support animals will qualify under certain rights similar, but not exactly, to a service dog. Under the Fair Housing Act, an emotional support animal is included within their definition of an assistance animal. This allows you to be able to have your animal in a no-pet apartment or rental since you will be living there. Once you obtain a prescription for an emotional support animal you cannot be charged a pet deposit fee. The animal cannot be a danger to others, and they must be well-behaved. Be sure to check the qualifications in your area.

Having an emotional support animal doesn’t allow you to take them to most public places like a restaurant since they do not provide a physical service. They also do not allow you to abuse the system just so you can have a pet at a no-pet housing location. This just makes it more difficult for people like my daughter to get this kind of benefit. Her cat provides her a comfort that he will always love her, cuddles her when she is sad, and is dependent on her which gives her a sense of responsibility.

Life with our cat.Cat love

Personally I prefer dogs, but my daughter wanted a cat. Since obtaining this companion for my daughter, her moods have improved, she is doing better in school, and she has been making friends easier. Before she was self conscious and shy, so she really struggled with what other people thought of her. At home, she has been less angry, defiant, and there has definitely been less screaming…that was a hard one for me. I understand that some people really do need medication, but I wanted to at least try as many other avenues of help that I could before we resorted to just giving her medication. We actually did try a medication once for a couple of weeks, but my daughter complained of stomach pains and I took her off of them. I am so thankful for our new member to our family for helping my daughter with a struggle I didn’t understand.

The struggle is real.

When my daughter first started having behavioral problems, I didn’t know what to do. The school suggested counseling and having her tested. We all struggle with our children sometimes, but this was beyond anything I had ever even read about in parenting books. She was stabbing her hands with pencils, writing negative things about herself at home and school, constantly screaming at the top of her lungs at home, literally throwing around everything in her room including her mattress. I felt so helpless as a mother… I had no idea how to help my daughter until I just kept reaching out for help and asking questions.

Here is what I have learned.

What does an emotional support animal do? He provides an emotional support to my daughter that she wouldn’t allow me to give her. He is a new member to our family. Her cat has provided her with a calmness and focus in her life again. She is getting more into her art, feeling more confident in her looks, and already has 4 new friends after a week starting out in a new school. We still have our issues as a mother and daughter, but it doesn’t even compare to the struggles we went through before she was prescribed her emotional support animal. If you or your child are struggling with any emotional or mental disabilities you might want to speak with a licensed health care professional about the benefits of an emotional support animal. You do need proper documentation from a licensed professional to receive all the benefits they qualify for. Either way, I have always loved the support and comfort of an animal. Live, laugh, love your life!

Please leave me a comment! I would like to know what you think or if you have any questions.

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6 thoughts on “What Does an Emotional Support Animal Do?”

  1. I’m biased and have to side with your daughter. I love dogs, but I am definitely more of a cat person myself 🙂
    There is something that is just truly special about cats and animals in general and how they are sometimes able to connect with us humans better than other people can.

    I can say from personal experience that it’s truly wonderful having a kitty companion by your side as you go through dark times in your life.

    I’m so glad that your daughter is doing better and that she is able to find support and comfort in her cat friend. I pray that she continues to grow and blossom into a beautiful young lady!

    1. I couldn’t agree with you more! My dog was there for me when I needed her, but I do love all animals. Thank you for your prayers and your wonderful comment.

  2. Hi Gerri, Great article and very informative thank you. We have 3 cats in our house and they are generally cared for by the girls. They do make a difference in many ways. We are far more spiritually connected than many people realize. I love the cat / tiger image too 🙂

    1. Yes I truly believe we all have a special connection. Animals have their own personality just like we do. Thank you for your comment! I wish we could have more animals around. Our cat definitely adds to our family. I’m glad your girls have so many to enjoy.

  3. Hi Gerri! As you know, I’m bipolar. I don’t have an emotional support animal, but I do have some pets – three guinea pigs and two rats. I do love the idea of emotional support animals – I’m all for them. I’ve heard that sometimes people take animals to senior living centers or hospitals to give people experiences of emotional connection, delight, and empathy.

    Thanks for clearing up the difference between an emotional support animal and a service pet. I wasn’t too clear on the distinction before.

    Hee hee. Just like Rhonda, I’m a cat person. =P

    1. That is great Wendy! Your animals should qualify if they offer you emotional support, they are domestic, and you have a prescription 😃 I’m glad you mentioned the animals for hospitals and seniors! I’ve also seen horses being used for therapy! It’s so great to see how much people can benefit from animals. Thank you for your comment! Our little cat is cutely snuggling next to me now…

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