Service animals can be very helpful for those with disabilities. But did you know animals can be of big help when it comes to one’s mental state? Have you ever had an animal trained to help you in a psychiatric episode? Let me back up and start from the beginning.
What is a service/emotional support animal?
A service animal is trained in assisting for medical reasons, up to and including psychiatric situations. Most of the time you will see “service animals” as trained dogs, but the range is very broad when it comes to what will qualify as a service animal.
I have seen things such as birds and even miniature horses being used as service animals. Don’t ask me what they do exactly, but they are. Personally, I have both service and ESA’s. As much as people want to argue though, there are differences between the two.
Emotional Service Animals
Emotional Support Animals are just that, they support you emotionally and help with most mental health issues. And these animals normally remain at home, with no legal protections. Anyone can really call their pet an emotional support animal and no one will bat an eye, because you can call any animal that without any form of training.
That also brings up the legal aspect of emotional support animals. ESAs do not qualify under ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) rules. And that is mainly due to the fact that they are not trained for anything specific. They are simply there to calm you after the storm.
Now with a psychiatric service animal, they are trained to know when the onset of an episode is coming, and they take action to prevent it or lessen the impact of said episode. And that is the difference.
Service Animals, as I stated earlier, are trained to perform certain tasks. These tasks normally help to lessen any sort of impact that may come with having a disability. And with said training(which does not have to be done by a professional as outlined in the ADA rules), there are legal protections for people with service animals.
Some that are included are:
Not having to provide documentation for service animals.
You can not be questioned as to whether or not you have an actual disability requiring a service animal.
They can not deny housing based on breed or type of chosen service dog/animal.
Training and Help
There are way too many providers and way too many locations for me to specify or suggest any kind of training for a service animal. The only thing I can suggest is for you to Google “service animal training near me” and it should provide you with trainers in the area that specialize in service animal behavior as well as specific tasks you may need.
Myself, I have always trained my animals. It makes it less confusing as to what cues and from who, the animal needs to pay attention. I have never had any major issues either. So it is worth a shot and saves some money if you are able to do it yourself.