What Species Can and Can’t Be Emotional Support Animals?

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emotional support animals

Did you know that animal specialists expect to see an increase in the number of owners of small dogs? They suspect it’s because younger generations enjoy bringing their pets on trips, walks, and even to restaurants.

We can’t blame them—animals can provide a great source of comfort. That’s why a certified emotional support animal (ESA) can have such a positive impact on individuals with disabilities, those with mental disorders, and trauma survivors.

Unfortunately, not every animal will qualify for emotional support status. So, which species are eligible to become emotional support animals?

We’re here to fill you in. Keep reading below to learn about which species you can register as an emotional support animal in the USA.

Species of a Manageable Size

You’ll often spot emotional support animals on planes, as plenty of people experience flight anxiety. Additionally, you may see an emotional support animal on international flights if the owner is traveling to an unfamiliar place for an extended trip.

Because emotional support animals are almost constantly with their owners, it’s no surprise that they tag along on planes or at restaurants. Because they’re permitted in these types of environments, they must be of a manageable size.

That’s why large animals like cows or horses aren’t eligible for ESA status. Animals bigger than that of a large dog will struggle to become certified, as they won’t be able to fit into small spaces, like the cabin of a plane.

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However, it’s also important to make the distinction between an emotional support animal and a service animal, as noted by the Department of Transportation. According to updated DOT rules, airlines aren’t required to recognize ESAs as service animals. That means unusual ESAs, such as birds or rodents, may be treated as pets and denied access to the cabin.

Domesticated Species

Many assume they must have a trained dog in order to certify their pet as an ESA. However, as long as your pet is domesticated, you’ll have no trouble registering on an ESA-certification website like Americanservicepets.com.

While dogs are considered the most popular emotional support animals, you’ll find that people have certified everything from ferrets to peacocks to pigs. Since they aren’t service animals required to complete tasks, they only need to be domesticated—it’s up to the owner to train and handle them properly.

However, domesticity and proper management are nothing to sniff at. The last thing you want is to be kicked off a flight because your ESA is causing a commotion. That’s why docile pets, such as cats and dogs, are often encouraged as ESAs.

Discovering the Qualifying Species of Emotional Support Animals

If you’re struggling to find the emotional support you need, it’s worth considering the benefits of emotional support animals. With the information above, you’ll be able to find an animal that suits both your personality and lifestyle, while also being eligible for emotional support certification.

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