The Spotlight

Emotional Support Animals Cause Controversy

Any animal can be an emotional support animals, but cats and dogs are most common.

Yukariryu

Any animal can be an emotional support animals, but cats and dogs are most common.

Sarah Jacobson, Our World Editor

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






The National Service Animal Registry (NSAR) defines an emotional support animal as any animal that has “been prescribed by a person’s licensed therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist (any licensed mental health professional). The animal is part of the treatment program for this person and is designed to bring comfort and minimize the negative symptoms of the person’s emotional/psychological disability.” These animals are with their clients around the clock, providing support in any way their owner might need. However, there has been a lot of controversy over whether or not they should be granted the same privileges as other support animals.

Over the last few years, a debate has sparked over the role of emotional support animals. Many argue that the animals damage property and can be disruptive in public spaces, while others contend that they provide much needed emotional support to the mentally ill.

“I think people should understand more that [the emotional support animals] shouldn’t be pet, and that they serve a role in helping people with their daily lives,” junior Emily Simmons said. “I think there needs to be a lot of education with them.”

According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), emotional support animals can decrease anxiety, increase feelings of comfort and safety, reduce loneliness, enhance self esteem, increase prosocial behaviors, and decrease behavioral problems.

“If [emotional service dogs] are proven to help [the mentally ill] then they should be welcomed by society,” junior and secretary of the animals rights activist club Christine Reichard said.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not define emotional support animals as working service animals, and the laws regarding their treatment tend to be different. While they are allowed in university dorms and on airplanes, they are not typically allowed in all public spaces. Beyond that, it can be difficult to understand various establishments’ rules regarding the animals, as many businesses interpret the act differently.

Therapypet.org reminds those with emotional service animals that airlines reserve the right to not allow the animal on the flight for whatever reason. Recent cases have been reported of people receiving unfair treatment because of their emotional support animals. One woman claimed that a stewardess had her flush her emotional support hamster down the toilet of the plane.

“[Emotional service animals should have the same rights as service dogs] because the owners still have something that they need help with,” sophomore Krya Lycett said. “If [the animal] makes their life easier and [allows them] to function in society, they should be able to have one.”

So what is the difference between emotional support animals and service dogs? According to the Emotional Service Animal Registration of America, emotional support animals provide therapeutic benefits to their owners, while service animals need specialized training to handle specific tasks.

Another main difference is that emotional support animals can indeed be any animal that fulfills its role of companionship, while service animals must be a breed of animal that can carry out the tasks that they are assigned. Service animals tend to be dogs, and they help perform tasks that their owner is incapable of performing on their own.

“I think that if people feel like they need [an emotional support animal], they should obviously reach out [to a professional] because [the animals] can be really beneficial,” Simmons said.

There is still much controversy surrounding the role of emotional support animals, and despite the research that has been done on them, many claim that more investigation is needed on the benefits and drawbacks of having a furry companion by one’s side at all times.

If you have an interest in getting an emotional support animal, you can speak to a mental health professional to see if that is an available option.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • Emotional Support Animals Cause Controversy

    Our World

    Where Are They Now? Jeff and David Alpert

  • Emotional Support Animals Cause Controversy

    Our World

    Where Are They Now? Sally J. Koch Keglovits

  • Emotional Support Animals Cause Controversy

    Our World

    What the Zuck is Going on with Facebook?

  • Emotional Support Animals Cause Controversy

    Our World

    Flu Season Poses Deadly Threat to Youth

  • Emotional Support Animals Cause Controversy

    Our World

    Where Are They Now? John Marquette

  • Emotional Support Animals Cause Controversy

    Our World

    How the Shooting Survivors of Parkland, Florida Sparked a Student Revolution

  • Emotional Support Animals Cause Controversy

    Our World

    Southern Lehigh Weighs in on Trump’s Impact on America One Year After His Inaguration

  • Emotional Support Animals Cause Controversy

    Our World

    Local Library Offers Vast Oppurtunities to Public

  • Emotional Support Animals Cause Controversy

    Our World

    Phildelphia Women’s March Inspires Social Change

  • Emotional Support Animals Cause Controversy

    Our World

    Where Are They Now? Tyler Pino

The student news site of Southern Lehigh High School
Emotional Support Animals Cause Controversy