| Savvy Prunty

What is an Emotional Support Animal (ESA)?

Emotional Support Animals aren’t a common thing you might hear about but at universities all over the United States they are becoming more and more prevalent. Yet, most people still don’t know what an ESA is or that they could even qualify for one! Keep reading to learn about ESAs, what they do and how you might qualify for one.

So, what is an ESA? An ESA is an Emotional Support Animal. It’s name makes it simple to get an understanding of what they are for. In short, an ESA is an animal that helps someone diagnosed with any number of mental or physical illnesses. Essentially, ESAs are similar to service dogs but without the very specific and extensive training.

An ESA can be any kind of animal from cats to snakes to even horses but the most common type of ESA is dogs. If you’ve ever been to any sort of hospital you’ve probably seen or heard of therapy dogs. Their job is to go around to each patient to comfort and care for them. This is where the idea of the ESA started. Professionals knew the health benefits of therapy dogs and started assigning people their own personal therapy dogs.

What kind of conditions do ESAs help with? There is a long list of health issues and disabilities that can qualify a person to have an ESA. Here is a short list of some of the most common ones:

  • PTSD (Post traumatic stress disorder)
  • BPD (Bi-polar disorder)
  • OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder)
  • Autism
  • Mild to severe anxiety
  • Agoraphobia or fear of being outside of the home
  • Depression
  • General Anxiety Disorder
  • Social Anxiety

But what are the benefits of having an ESA? Just like having pets is good for the average person, ESAs have even more benefits for those who suffer from mental or physical illnesses. An ESA can help boost a person’s self esteem, help them be more social because the ESA can act as a sort of “security blanket”, help people feel more safe or generally more comfortable, keep their owners motivated and active, decrease the symptoms of their owners diagnosed illness and give the person a sense of purpose. As you can see and ESA can help better the life of someone in need in so many ways.

How can I get an ESA? It’s actually a lot simpler than you’d think! All you need to do is go to your doctor and ask if an ESA is right for you. If you have already been diagnosed with any of the illnesses listed above, acquiring the official ESA letter from your doctor can be a very easy task. They might need to ask you a list of questions to see if this is the right fit for you but most people with those illnesses have little to no trouble getting a prescribed ESA. It is important to keep in mind that an ESA is different from a pet. While a pet can do similar things for their owners that an ESA can, the reason an ESA is needed is because it betters the life of the person that owns them. They serve almost like a medication to help lessen the person’s illness and help make living their day to day life much easier.

ESAs are becoming more common across the country today and bettering the lives of their owners. Getting an ESA is much easier than you might think and they help with a number of different illnesses. If you are interested in getting an ESA talk to your doctor to see if it is the right fit for you. Come back next week to see what it’s like to live with an ESA at college as we follow Savvy and Murphy around their campus home!