Emotional Support Animal
by Elisa Black-Taylor
Furby gives lots of emotional support
So you want to get an emotional support animal and don't know how to begin the process. I'm going to run through the basics and hopefully educate the readers here at pictures-of-cats.org on a couple of different situations involving emotional support animals.
The first thing you will need to do to certify your pet is to make a visit to your doctor. Preferably a mental health professional since the only way to get a legal ruling is to show that your mental illness places limitations on one or more major life activities.
To qualify as disabled under federal disability laws, you must convince a doctor, then a judge, that you are disabled because of your mental condition. A doctor will make a medical diagnosis and write an order saying an emotional support animal is needed as part of treatment. Then a judge must weigh the decision based on medical records and decide whether the animal will be allowed given the certification.
Even if that option fails, I'm going to tell you later in this article of a little known law concerning tenants and pets. I'm not sure what your local laws are, but this is worth checking into. I'm only bringing up the subject as a starting point.
First of all, some of the benefits of living with pets include:
* lower cholesterol
* lower blood pressure
* lower triglyceride
* reduced stress levels
* reduced feelings of loneliness
* better mental health
* increased activity
* more opportunities for exercise
* more time spent outdoors (
for dog owners especially)
* more opportunities for socialization
One good thing about emotional support animals is they don't have to do anything challenging to be certified. The fact that the animal is beneficial to the patient is enough and no special training is required.
For an animal to be able to quality under the disability rights laws, the animal must have good manners. A cat must be litter box trained and a dog may not engage in a lot of barking. It should be safe for tenants and contractors to live and work around the animal.
Please keep in mind an emotional support animal may not have the same privileges as service animals and may be banned from certain businesses.
For differences in emotional support animals and service animals, here's a good article.
I hope this will give everyone interested a good start in certifying a cat for emotional support.
I've been reading up on this next subject for several weeks and find it a little confusing. Again, please check local ordinances concerning this. I would imagine this is something landlords may not want to become common knowledge.
There's a three month rule I feel the readers should know about in keeping an animal on rental property. The law in many areas state that if the landlord knows you have a pet and has known for three months, the landlord cannot ask you to get rid of the pet. Even if a no pets allowed sign is clearly posted. The main thing to remember in the three month rule is not to hide the pet. You must live openly with the pet, therefore showing it is part of your family. Try to get a few pictures of the pet with the doorman or a security guard in the photo. This will create a time line showing you weren't concealing the animal and the landlord had plenty of time to ask you to find other accommodations for your pet.
There have been a few cases go to court over both of these situations and the claimants won as they were able to show being denied a pet violated disability laws.
If anyone has more information on these two issues, please add them in the comment section.