Why Are Emotional Support Animals Growing in Popularity in 2022?

emotional support animals

It is a well-known fact that people living in the US simply adore their pets. As per the APPA National Pet Owners Survey done in the years 2021–2022, around 70% of U.S. households owned at least one animal.

The main reason behind this is that pet animals, be it a dog, a cat, or a bird, tend to develop a deep mental connection with their owner. By being a great companion, they play a vital role in the individual’s daily life by making a significant contribution to their happiness and companionship. 

Aside from these perks, animals could also help with other human health issues by being by their side at the lowest moments. This is where emotional support animals or ESAs come into play.

ESAs, also known as comfort animals, refer to those pets that are frequently used as therapeutic tools for clinical treatment of a person’s emotional and mental health. In other words, their purpose is to act as a coping mechanism for the daily events and activities of people who are in distress or suffering from any sort of psychological illness. 

ESA is undeniably gaining popularity in the medical field. But do you know why and how this has become a growing trend? Continue reading to figure out the answer, as well as information about ESA letter benefits, ESA letter online requirements, and federal laws for ESA.

Why are ESAs gaining attention in this pandemic?

Often, the most challenging times inspire many changes in people’s lifestyles, and so did the ESAs during the pandemic.

Besides the various challenges, stress, and copying issues we face on our general daily basis, the COVID-19 era has also left many individuals craving for emotional support as well. This type of assistance is required simply to help such individuals live a normal life, particularly for those struggling with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. 

At such times, any person’s only wish is to have someone by their side. And who could better do that than a loving, loyal pet? 

According to a SWNS Digital 2021 report, 72% of animal owners in the US said they simply could not have gotten through the pandemic without their pet. In fact, more than 80% of people said their animals were assisting them in coping emotionally during the global pandemic.

ESAs have thus also started to gain more attention in this post-pandemic era and become a trend as adopting an animal feels far more comfortable than any traditional therapy. It serves as a potential solution to better serve those who believe they require animals to lead a healthy, balanced life. Animals are increasingly being certified to provide emotional support to people suffering from a clinically diagnosed mental illness or an increased risk of emotional issues.

Federal Laws for ESA 

The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) and Fair Housing Act (FHA) both mention ESAs. These two laws concern the right of a person to live or travel with their ESA pet whenever and wherever they want. 

The ACAA, however, was amended in early 2021 to exclude ESAs, so it no longer has the same authority as FHA to defend ESA owners as it did previously. Under the FHA, ESAs are qualified as assistance animals, and their owners are protected from animal constraints and charged fees in almost all housing accommodation instances. 

Due to such laws, ESAs are now appearing in areas where animals were originally not allowed, such as restaurants, apartments, rental housing, supermarkets, retail stores, etc.

Which animal classifies as an ESA?  

The FHA law states that an ESA could be any species of animal provided that their availability gives the required ease, stability, and solace that assists their owner in managing chronic symptoms of an underlying psychological disorder.

Thus, the option for ESA is definitely not limited to cats and dogs – which are mostly considered as “pets”. You can easily pick up a rabbit, parrots, pigs, chickens, sheep, goats, horses or ponies as your support animal. Not only that you can also go for rodents such as guinea pigs, mice, hamsters, or gerbils as well. 

Often, certain therapy farms across the whole world also provide llamas and alpacas, two domesticated hoofed mammals from South America that are innately delicate and amiable emotional comfort providers.

How to get an ESA letter online

An animal must always be licensed in order to be deemed emotional support. Otherwise, how else could you possibly show to your landlord, housing providers, aviation attendees, etc. that the animal you want to live or travel with is more than just a pet? Owing to this, you must get an ESA letter.

An ESA Letter is a sort of legal medical prescription composed and signed by a licensed mental health professional (LMHP) that confirms your pet’s status as an ESA. The document includes the individual’s illness or disorder(s) as well as an ESA recommendation.

Here’s the steps to get an ESA letter online:

  • Solve the online pre-qualification questionnaire.
  • Once you successfully pass the quiz, pick what kind of letter you want.
  • Pay for the letter price.
  • E-sign the relevant documents.
  • Connect with a LMHP who will examine your application and decide whether or not to approve you for an ESA. 
  • You will receive your letter via email shortly after the LMHP’s approval. 
  • This letter will give you legal permission under the FHA to live or travel with your pet.

Let’s Sum it Up!

Obtaining an ESA to improve your mental health is a quick and easy process. However, with the ESA growing in popularity, there are also fraudulent activities related to fake ESA letters, which lead to more individuals bringing their pets into non-pet areas, including hotel bars.

It is thus advised to our readers to always check if the LMHP practitioner’s license number is included in the letter to confirm its genuineness.

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