Originally Posted by traciek88
Not to say anything against your dog but I think the ESA thing is a bit...hard to grasp sometime. I'm genuinely asking because I don't know--how is it a dog with fear/emotional problems themselves can be support animals? What sort of tests do they have to follow? I'm just struggling to understand because if the main qualification is a dog being emotionally supportive, nearly everyone would qualify for that. I mean who hasn't had their dog lick away tears or snuggle up when you're depressed? While I'm not saying you are abusing this system, I can definitely see how easily this label can be abused and taken advantage of.
I think that you are sort of confusing an ESA with a service dog. Service dogs need to be trained to perform specific tasks in order to help the handler with their condition and therefore qualify. A service dog qualified to assist and autistic individual or one with PTSD may have a special cue to remove a person from a room and take them outside, for instance.
An ESA is a dog who helps simply by his ownership. A person going through a major depressive swing may not even leave their bed for a few days, but for the responsibility of their pet ownership "forcing" them to go outside. Or for someone that struggles frequently with suicidal tendencies, their pet may be the one immediate reason they find to stick around when they are in a point of very real crisis: "I can't swallow this bottle of pills, because who will feed/walk my dog in the morning?"
or "I can't book a ticket to vegas and go blow all my money, because who will look after the dog for the weekend?
It sounds extremely irrational, but nobody ever said that mental illness is an irrational thing! If a doctor deems that the animal in question interferes with that person making very poor decisions, or excluding their own self-maintenance then yes, the animal is as good a treatment as drugs or counselling, only more economical.
I'll offer another example: my neighborhood is full of retirement housing and many elderly people have lost their spouse and are living by themselves. Their little fluffy dog is the thing that gets them outside, active and socializing where they otherwise would not. Or they might walk up to the smoky bingo-hall up the street, and spend their small pensions playing bingo for the social experience. OR they might make use of community services for seniors which, though great, do cost money to taxpayers. OR they may wind up shut-in and eventually hospitalized and treated for a condition that might have been much cheaper and more effective to treat if they saw a doctor for it 6 months ago, when it would have interfered with them getting outside and going for a walk.
So it's not just that "we all get a little down sometimes"; its that animals, in a very practical way, reduce instances that are more costly to the system: hospitalization, sick leave, employment insurance, government-insured counselling and medication, crimes ultimately perpetrated by mental illness, etc.