Pets can bring joy and fun into anyone’s life. If you find yourself looking for an animal companion to walk with you on your journey to recovery and mental health, you should know the responsibilities and rewards associated with a furry (or not so furry) friend.

Types of Emotional Support Animals

An emotional support animal (ESA) can be any animal that provides therapeutic support to its owner according to the ESA registration of America. Unlike service animals, an ESA is not trained to perform specific tasks to protect the physical health of its owner.

Dogs are a popular choice for emotional support animals, but cats, birds, rabbits, and horses, among other animals, make great ESA, too. The primary role of an ESA is to provide comfort and companionship, no matter how they look. If your pet cockatoo enhances your mental, spiritual, and emotional health, he would be a perfect candidate!

How Do I Get an ESA?

Since an ESA does not require the same training as a service animal, you can find your animal companion anywhere. For an animal to be an official ESA, a mental health professional, likely your therapist, will evaluate the therapeutic value of the animal through a psychological evaluation. After qualifying for an ESA, you can register your pet through the ESA registration of America.

What are the benefits of registering an ESA?

Not all pets need to be registered as ESA to provide emotional support in your life, but official ESA status will give your furry friend special legal privileges. For example, college dorms that restrict or ban pets may allow a registered ESA in the building. It’s important to remember that a service animal has rights that are not extended to an ESA, and a registered emotional support animal has rights that are not granted to an unregistered animal.

The rules regarding ESAs on a facility’s campus should be reviewed before making any decisions. Owning a pet comes with great responsibility, but welcoming a four-legged friend into your life can bring immense support.

Owning an ESA can provide you with the mental and emotional strength to continue your journey in recovery, even when it seems hard. At Alta Loma, we can offer other tools such as medication management information, residency, and 12-Step support that will also assist you in your recovery. Dedicated mental health professionals work with you to design a custom treatment that satisfies your unique needs and promotes sustainable wellness. If you are interested, please call Alta Loma today at (866) 457-3843.