There is always a lot of confusion involved where emotional support animals are concerned. Most people think of it as a way for pet owner’s to take their pets everywhere and they can’t seem to look beyond the free airplane travels and other accommodation privileges.
I have been in situations where I had to explain to people that my dog is an emotional support animal (ESA); they were quick to judge. I don’t blame them because people don’t understand the purpose of keeping an emotional support animal let alone its benefits.
In a country with twenty percent of its population suffering from mental illness, it is important to understand the use of emotional support animal as a treatment.
According to several licensed therapists, “Emotional support animals provide help to their owners with dealing and overcoming an emotional disability. They can take a patient's emotional stress away in a way that other forms of therapy can’t.”
So, your concerns about people wrongfully taking advantage of an ESA might not be valid.
Here’s how my emotional support dog saved me:
1. Constant Companionship
If you have a pet dog, you would agree that they bring you a sense of comfort and companionship. Your furry friend can fill out the missing void in your life and make you look forward to coming home to someone.
Now imagine someone struggling with depression and anxiety, having trouble getting out of bed every morning; the joy and happiness having a dog would bring them.
My story is similar when I first met my support dog, Beck; I was in a dark place battling depression. Beck with her constant love and support made me look at the brighter side of life, having her accompany me everywhere put my life in order.
2. Traveling Together
Before Beck, while taking flights, my anxieties were at an all-time high. I stopped taking vacations and restricted myself to the walls of my home. I didn’t realize how important traveling was for my emotional health until I took my first vacation with Beck.
She helps calm my anxieties on the plane allowing me to travel easily — to meet my parents and take trips.
If you see someone with their ESA on a plane, give them the benefit of the doubt.
3. Social Support
There were times when I felt suffocated at work, felt like the walls were crashing down on me. I found it impossible to interact with my colleagues, and it ended up with me quitting my job.
After having Beck accompany me to work, I started feeling better and motivated to perform better everyday. Having my constant support with me at work changed my life in a way medication couldn’t.