Differences between a Service Dog and Emotional Support Pet

It is crucial to understand the differences between a service animal and a pet for emotional support. Although both pets would provide emotional support, but the responsibilities of the former include providing physical and official support besides emotional companionship. The laws governing them are different as well. For example, the blind man’s dog not only provides mental support but also renders the priceless assistance of guiding the handler to his/her destination. A dog personally trained for serious security duties (like those working with the police) would come under the service category.

service dog vs emotional support pet

Owner Perspective 

In order to qualify your pet as an ESA, you must be suffering from serious mental and emotional conditions. Your problems should include stress, anxiety, phobias, insomnia, and panic attacks, as verified by a registered medical practitioner. Veterans with PTSD or survivors of any other kind of stressful violence typically qualify for the need to adopt an emotional support pet. As you forward your application, your mental condition is checked with the Diagnostic Standards Manual (versions 4 and 5). A service dog on the other hand is a pet whose main responsibility is to help his/her disabled owner. The situation can be confusing in case you suffer both from psychiatric disorder and physical disability. Refer a professional consultant for expert guidance.

Certification Process

The certification process is straightforward. It does not take much time if you fulfill all the criteria to adopt an emotional support dog. You must already have the necessary medical certificates confirming any of the above mentioned mental conditions. Visit an online service facilitating the arrangement. You would find an online form where to fill out all details outlining your necessity to have an ESA. You have to register and pay for this online exam, but that should be less expensive than visiting the facility in person. Following the medical evaluation of your application, you are granted the certificate. In case you disqualify, trust a credible service to provide 100% refund.

Vital Document

The ESA certificate is a vital document to ensure the companionship of your loving pet. Not all housings are pet friendly, and the landlord may raise objections on your dog living at his premises. You should be preparing a Photo ID for your dog that includes its ESA registration number. In addition, you have to provide the guarantee of being able to handle the dog by its leashes. Once you furnish the ESA certificate elaborating your acute mental health disorder, the law compels the landlord to consent. This is under the provisions of the Fair Housing Act, barring certain exceptions. Exceptions include circumstances such as living in a 4 unit rental where the owner occupies one of them.

Similarly, the Air Carrier Access Act also requires the owner to provide the ESA certificate. A service dog on the other hand is under the protection of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Obviously, the animal also provides emotional support, but the owner needs to qualify as a mental patient to obtain the document of emotional support. From the perspective of the dog, it really does not matter under which law its companionship falls! In any case, you can always expect unconditional support from your dear four-paws.