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Please don't judge me, I'm EXTREMELY hesitant to post this, because it's very personal, and the other forum I'm on when I posted something about this it turned into a complete trainwreck thread and everybody jumped all over me saying "oh ESAs shouldn't be a real thing, they're nothing compared to service dogs, you don't need one you're a faker, etc." BUT you all seem so welcoming and friendly here and I'd really like some opinions. I have very severe anxiety, pretty well controlled at this time depression, an eating disorder, and am on the autistic spectrum, I think I could really benefit from an emotional support animal, and my dog is so very well-behaved and well-trained in pretty much all situations ...I am trying to get her certified as one w/ my psychiatrist.
Has anyone ever done this w/ their dog?
Doing this would allow my to never be denied an housing because of my dog, take her on airplanes, and take her into certain public places(at the discretion of the business owner as there is no law that protects ESAs like service animals). My absolutely crippling anxiety is SO much better when my dog is around, so I think this is a smart move, and I can interact w/ people more easily and even look them in the eye sometimes.
so opinions? experiences? I'm really mainly wondering if anyone's done this before and how it panned out for you?
TIA
 

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If she helps you cope/function, and your psychiatrist agrees it would be a good idea, I don't see why not.

I almost did it because I have similar problems with regards to anxiety and ASD but for whatever reason I decided not to. But it really bothers me when people don't take mental/emotional disabilities as seriously as physical ones.
 

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I haven't done this before, but I am also thinking about it since my dogs calm me when I get anxious. Let us know how it goes.

I have a neurological condition that is worsened by stress, anxiety, fear, or other extreme emotions and physical stress. So I have been thinking about getting one of my dogs certified as a ESA also.

Some people just don't understand what it is like to live with those things. I have a brother on the autism spectrum so I understand your need for a ESA completely. We are getting him a lab just for that reason.
 

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I wish that emotional support animals were subject to some kind of certification, same as service animals. Until they are, however, people will try to take advantage - which is why people who are genuinely in need get so much flack. There are just too many people who'll try to use the 'emotional support' designation to get their dog, well-trained or not, privileges that regular family pets are not entitled to. Unfortunately, official-looking gear can even be purchased online. :(

I think providing ESA animals with more official standing, including passing such tests as CGC, would help reduce fraud, and also help those people who are really dependent on them.

Not sure where you live, but in Canada, there doesn't seem to be much legal support for ESAs, and whether landlords/stratas have to allow ESAs is not really clear. Here's an excerpt from Emotional Support Animals | Canadian Service Dog Foundation

Emotional Support Animals (ESA), as the name implies provide emotional support to their owner/handler. Emotional support animals are NOT service animals! Lets first look at the differences for a moment. Emotional Support Animals benefit their owner by providing companionship, comfort, and emotional support. They need not be trained skills to support a disability. In fact it can be difficult to differentiate between an Emotional Support Animal and a pet/companion animal. Ultimately it comes down to the fact that the owner is impaired by some form of mental illness or psychiatric disorder but is not fully disabled by their condition. For this reason they may benefit from the presence of an emotional support animal in their life, however it is not necessary for the animal to accompany the owner in public. Benefits to having an animal recognized officially as an Emotional Support Animal may include issues pertaining to residence or accommodation such as in the case of a rental housing. The law surrounding ESAs is quite vague though and anyone challenging a dispute may have their work cut out for them.
 

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I'll take my physical issues over anxiety any day of the week, and my physical issues are no joke. (I do have issues with anxiety, but mine are currently well controlled.)

If having an ESA allows you to live a fuller life, do it. And don't apologize.
 
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I have no problem with ESA dogs, the problem is that there's no training for them. I think that they need to go through the same sort of training as service dogs. Because yes they can help with many things, but if they're not well behaved then it makes other peoples lives difficult. I struggle with anxiety myself, so I completely understand why people need them. I just wish it was more structured and regulated.

I have seen it work very well for some people, so if it will for you, seems like a good thing.
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This statement below is from the ADA site, which pertains to the United States. People with ESA dogs are not afforded the same accommodations and considerations as those with service dogs. Service dogs have no certification requirements other than they perform a specific task. They do not have to be trained professionally.

I don't doubt that emotional support dogs are valuable and even necessary for some people but under the law they are not treated the same as a service dog, according to the ADA website.

Are emotional support, therapy, comfort, or companion animals considered service animals under the ADA? A. No. These terms are used to describe animals that provide comfort just by being with a person. Because they have not been trained to perform a specific job or task, they do not qualify as service animals under the ADA. However, some State or local governments have laws that allow people to take emotional support animals into public places. You may check with your State and local government agencies to find out about these laws.
 

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There's nothing wrong with having an ESA. There is no training requirement and the problem with any sort training is that it just gets to be a matter of opinion about what is proper training/how to train and some dogs probably do fine with little or no training. There are probably plenty of disabled people that would simply be unable to afford a service dog/ESA if there was a certification system.
 

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There's nothing wrong with having an ESA. There is no training requirement and the problem with any sort training is that it just gets to be a matter of opinion about what is proper training/how to train and some dogs probably do fine with little or no training. There are probably plenty of disabled people that would simply be unable to afford a service dog/ESA if there was a certification system.
Trained service dogs (trained by outside organizations like Seeing Eye in Morristown) cost upwards of $10,000. Very few disabled people can afford that. While it is frustrating that idiots call their untrained, poorly behaved pets service dogs in order to take them into grocery stores and restaurants, that frustration does not justify robbing disabled people of the opportunity to live life.
 

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Hello :) I know quite a bit about service animals and ESAs. I have a service dog, and an ESA kitty.

First there is no certification. All you need is to be legally disabled and have a letter from your doctor.

While anxiety and your other issues can be considered disabling for some people, they are not always so. So you should discuss with your doctor if they are disabling to you.

Doing this would allow my to never be denied an housing because of my dog, take her on airplanes, and take her into certain public places(at the discretion of the business owner as there is no law that protects ESAs like service animals).
Well housing can deny in a few exceptions:
1.Buildings with four or fewer units where the landlord lives in one of the units.
2.Private owners who do not own more than three single family houses, do not use real estate brokers or agents, and do not use discriminatory advertisements.
3. Hotels and Motels are considered public access instead of dwellings. They are covered under the ADA & not the FHA, so service dogs are allowed but ESAs are not.

There can also be species and breed restrictions. Reasonable Accommodation, means just that. If an animal can not be reasonably kept because of its species or causes undue burden they can deny it.
This also goes for dog breed restrictions as it relates to insurance. For example if your service dog or ESA is a breed that is often denied and the insurance company would raise or deny coverage, then they may deny you. This is something to consider when choosing your breed if you rent.

As for being in public.... it is a heated subject in the service animal community. ESAs are only allowed in public places where pets are allowed. In public they are treated the same as any other dog. Some businesses may allow pets, but there are also some that have health codes that mean they can not enter.

If you need your dog in public with you, I suggest looking into service dogs instead of ESAs.

I actually just recently wrote a blog post on ESAs, the end related to rats but it is all the same info. And has some links to more info as well
Once Upon a Mischief Rattery: Emotional Support Animals

My ESA has saved my life. Technically, now he is just a pet as I have no plans to fly with him & own my own home so being an ESA is kindof moot lol. But my pets are lifesavers. I am bipolar, extreme anxiety and agoraphobia.

If u have any specific questions, I'd be happy to help!
 

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Trained service dogs (trained by outside organizations like Seeing Eye in Morristown) cost upwards of $10,000. Very few disabled people can afford that. While it is frustrating that idiots call their untrained, poorly behaved pets service dogs in order to take them into grocery stores and restaurants, that frustration does not justify robbing disabled people of the opportunity to live life.
Agreed. That was the point I was making with that last sentence. :)
 

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There's nothing wrong with having an ESA. There is no training requirement and the problem with any sort of training requirement is that it just gets to be a matter of opinion about what is proper training/how to train and some dogs probably do fine with little or no training. There are probably plenty of disabled people that would simply be unable to afford a service dog/ESA if there was a certification system.
Fixed my post.
 

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Please don't judge me, I'm EXTREMELY hesitant to post this, because it's very personal, and the other forum I'm on when I posted something about this it turned into a complete trainwreck thread and everybody jumped all over me saying "oh ESAs shouldn't be a real thing, they're nothing compared to service dogs, you don't need one you're a faker, etc." BUT you all seem so welcoming and friendly here and I'd really like some opinions. I have very severe anxiety, pretty well controlled at this time depression, an eating disorder, and am on the autistic spectrum, I think I could really benefit from an emotional support animal, and my dog is so very well-behaved and well-trained in pretty much all situations ...I am trying to get her certified as one w/ my psychiatrist.
Has anyone ever done this w/ their dog?
Doing this would allow my to never be denied an housing because of my dog, take her on airplanes, and take her into certain public places(at the discretion of the business owner as there is no law that protects ESAs like service animals). My absolutely crippling anxiety is SO much better when my dog is around, so I think this is a smart move, and I can interact w/ people more easily and even look them in the eye sometimes.
so opinions? experiences? I'm really mainly wondering if anyone's done this before and how it panned out for you?
TIA
Considering that you want to take her into public places, and that she is such a huge help to you, have you considered getting her certified ESA and then work to train her to be your service dog? The ESA would give you protection in case you have to move, and her being a service dog in training, with you as her trainer, may (depending on where you live) let you take her into public places and you'd have the end goal of her being an actual service animal.

http://www.anythingpawsable.com/what-are-the-minimum-training-standards-for-a-service-dog/#.Vd9_4pcvvB4
 

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On the ADA website doesn't it states that if an animal performs a specific task in aid of it's owner, then it is a 'service' animal? So if, for example, a dog warned of an approaching anxiety attack (which can be extremely disabling) and/or protected the owner in some specific way during the attack, then wouldn't that qualify as a 'service' animal rather than an emotional support animal?

If someone with PTSD is having flashbacks, and their animal is taught some way of bringing them 'back' so to speak, then wouldn't that also qualify as a service animal since it's a specific task in response to an owner's need?

I did not know that in the US, service animals required no special training or certification. In BC this year, they've implemented legislation that requires certification and visible identification of service animals. Dogs-in-training are also accorded the same rights as fully trained animals. This new legislation appears to be an expansion on existing regulations. More here, if anyone would like to read it.
Guide Animal Certification - Ministry of Justice
https://news.gov.bc.ca/stories/tails-are-wagging-for-new-guide-and-service-dog-guidelines
Questions and Answers - Guide Animal Certification - Ministry of Justice
 

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On the ADA website doesn't it states that if an animal performs a specific task in aid of it's owner, then it is a 'service' animal? So if, for example, a dog warned of an approaching anxiety attack (which can be extremely disabling) and/or protected the owner in some specific way during the attack, then wouldn't that qualify as a 'service' animal rather than an emotional support animal?
Yes and no. One the person has to be legally disabled (but that is true for both ESA & service dogs).

Then yes the dog has to know a task(s) *there is a disagreement on how many tasks a dog needs.

Then it has to have a trained task that is directly related to the person's disability. An alert should be shaped into a trained task. here is a good list of tasks:
http://www.iaadp.org/psd_tasks.html

As long as the task isn't emotional support or comfort then yes.

The dog also has to be trained well enough to handle public access though. Not all dogs are cut out for that part.
 
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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
Thanks for all the support guys! I know there are no training requirements but I am planning to try and get my dog her CGC, also because I am considering doing search and rescue w/ her. We will see what my psychiatrist says when he meets her on the 3rd. I am looking forward to it. I took her into my former office today(my former boss is a major dog person) to get some "office experience" and more experience in new indoor environments to prep her for the meeting w/ my doctor. She did very well but was obviously very interested in the new place, though she listened to every command I gave her right away. My former boss thought a potential ESA should be more constantly attentive to me. I'm not sure whether I agree or not, I mean I don't really need her to be 100% focused on me, I just need her to be listening when I talk to her and to be there in general. It's kind of funny -- whenever we are somewhere outdoors she is always completely attentive to me, never strays too far and follows me around, but indoors in new places she just wants to sniff everything and wander around until she's fully explored everything, though she still does check in regularly.

@Rain -- I have looked into service dog training as I really would like to train her to perform some service dog tasks, but it is quite prohibitively expensive to do the full-fledged program. I am thinking about asking if I could work w/ a trainer on a weekly basis or something w/ lots of homework to train my dog to perform just a few tasks. That should reduce the cost. I really think I would need the help of a trainer, or perhaps you all might have some ideas as I want my dog to do relatively simple things such as retrieve my medication on command. For reference she will play fetch but will not bring a ball or toy on command so I do not have much of a base to work w/.
 

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Considering that you want to take her into public places, and that she is such a huge help to you, have you considered getting her certified ESA and then work to train her to be your service dog? The ESA would give you protection in case you have to move, and her being a service dog in training, with you as her trainer, may (depending on where you live) let you take her into public places and you'd have the end goal of her being an actual service animal.

http://www.anythingpawsable.com/what-are-the-minimum-training-standards-for-a-service-dog/#.Vd9_4pcvvB4
There is no certification required of service dogs. This site is to "register" a dog as a service dog. Sort of meaningless as it's all self reported as far as training, etc.
 

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@Rain -- I have looked into service dog training as I really would like to train her to perform some service dog tasks, but it is quite prohibitively expensive to do the full-fledged program. I am thinking about asking if I could work w/ a trainer on a weekly basis or something w/ lots of homework to train my dog to perform just a few tasks. That should reduce the cost. I really think I would need the help of a trainer, or perhaps you all might have some ideas as I want my dog to do relatively simple things such as retrieve my medication on command. For reference she will play fetch but will not bring a ball or toy on command so I do not have much of a base to work w/.
You can also owner train. It is not easy and alot of dogs are just not cut out to be service dogs. But owner training is a viable option.

Most owner trainers work with a dog trainer as well. So if u can find a good dog trainer in your area you can probably discuss with them if they think your dog could handle public access and work on training them for that!

Here is a facebook group for Owner Trainers,
https://www.facebook.com/groups/OTSDServiceDogs/
 

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I have no problem with people with a genuine need for an ESA having one and referring to it as such. However, sometimes I wonder if it wouldn't be better for those people and their dogs (or cats or whatever) if there were some kind of basic certification for ESAs that could separate those whose animals really provide them with a service from those that are simply having a label slapped on them by owners who think it then gives them an excuse to carry/have the dog (or whatever) with them everywhere, whether they have any fundamental public manners or not. If there were, it might prevent actual ESAs from being dismissed so easily by the general public.

I don't have any experience with training service dogs, but plenty of people train their dogs to be therapy dogs on their own at a relatively low cost. I believe I spent $70 total in taking a class, passing the certification test, and registering my dog as a TDI dog--and the $20 class wasn't mandatory; I just thought it would be helpful in passing the test, and it was. If there were some organization that did something similar for ESA dogs, perhaps it would help weed out those who just get doctor friends to sign off on their dogs as being ESA dogs.

However, even if there isn't such a system right now, I still think you have every right to have an ESA and shouldn't worry about what others think about it as long as you and your physician believe it will help you. Way back in the day, service dogs and their handlers faced the same kind of public skepticism, just as therapy dogs did (and sometimes still do). ESAs are still a relatively new idea for some folks, and it's going to take time before they're as fully accepted as the idea of guide dogs for the blind now is.
 
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