These days it seems like everyone has some kind of Emotional Support Animal. An emotional support or assistance animal is a companion that a medical professional says provides some benefit for a person disabled by a mental health condition or emotional disorder. I’ve never heard of this until recently. When I grew up, everyone I knew either had a dog or a cat, but that wasn’t for emotional support that was just to throw a stick to a slobbering beast or dangle a string to a playful feline in hopes of getting it to do some flips.
How does the medical professional know you need an emotional support animal? What if he suggests you get a cat to help you through your depression and when you realize you must clean the litter box every day you go into a deeper depression. And, who picks what kind of ESA you get. Does the doctor or psychiatrist go off a chart? “Let’s see here. Anxiety. Well, you have a choice of a Persian kitty or Chow dog. Fur helps with stress.” Maybe. I could see it. For instance, if you have an eating disorder the doctor may propose getting yourself a pot-belly pig. Perhaps if you have sex-related issue the doctor may suggest you get a few bunny rabbits. I wonder if the shrink says, “Okay, I’ll sign a form allowing you to use your poodle for emotional support but I need you to know that financial problems, career issues, finding a companion, exercising, eating healthy, enjoying life are your responsibility. A poodle can’t solve all your problems.
What gets one to the point of needing an animal around to give them emotional support. A lazy husband? A nagging wife? A gossiping friend? An empty bank account? My question is, how does the animal help you with that? I could understand if you get fired from your job and your basset hound takes you out for a few drinks to drown your sorrows and the mutt pays. Or maybe after a long day at the office you collapse on the couch and your Maine Coon cat gives you a kneading massage on your back. Now that’s some support.
Dogs and cats are the most common ESA’s but there are plenty of whackos who have other types of companions used for backing. One man, out of Florida, uses an alligator as his support vessel. My guess is he doesn’t like to talk to people and the snapping reptile keeps folks away allowing him some peace and quiet which does wonders for the psyche. I am curious if that odd creature is allowed on planes. Could you imagine sitting next to that on a coast-to-coast flight? For me, having an alligator around wouldn’t provide me any emotional support, it would just make me a little edgy.
by Jeff Charlebois