Service Animals: For those of you living with a mental or physical disability, you may find yourself at times struggling to complete basic daily tasks. While this can certainly be frustrating, there are a number of alternatives to consider before hiring a live in nurse. The emotional bond between humans and animals is no mystery, as roughly 65% of American households have a pet. Animals can help provide a service for humans, whether it be physical, emotional, or therapeutic. According to the National Service Animal Registry, there are four types of animal service: Service Animals, Psychiatric Service Dogs, Emotional Support Animals, and Therapy Animals. To learn more about each group and how one may be beneficial to you, please read the following descriptions:
Service Animals: #1 Service Animals
Dogs are the most common type of service animal, however miniature horses have also been known to help in assisting humans. Service animals are trained to assist people with physical disabilities. For example, a person who is blind may choose to adopt a service dog rather than learn to use a walking stick. In order to qualify for ownership of a service animal, a person must have a disability that hinders his or her ability to perform an important life task without assistance.
Service Animals: #2 Psychiatric Service Dog
Anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder are just a few psychiatric disabilities known in the medical world. In certain cases, the severity of these mental illnesses may be so great, that it diminishes the quality of life of an individual and limits their ability to carry out daily tasks. If you or someone you know fits this description, you may benefit from adopting a psychiatric service dog (PSD). PSDs are professionally trained to help people suffering from a psychiatric illness. To qualify for ownership of a PSD, a licensed therapist must write a letter stating that it is their professional opinion you be prescribed a PSD.
Service Animals: #3 Emotional Support Animals
Emotional Support Animals (ESA), also known as comfort animals or comfort pets, are animals that are prescribed to emotionally and psychiatrically disabled persons. A variety of animals qualify as an ESA, including dogs, cats, birds, hedgehogs, rabbits, and more. Again, a person who wishes to qualify for an ESA must have a properly formatted letter from their therapist that states the presence of an ESA is necessary. Those who are denied a prescription may also use Chilhowee Psychological Services in an effort to obtain a legal prescription. While there are no restrictions on what animals qualify as an ESA, it is important to take into consideration the size and practicality of said animal. The phrase “elephant in the room” is a great expression, however under no circumstances should this be taken literally when considering adopting an ESA.
Service Animals: #4 Therapy Animals
Therapy animals are specially trained to interact well with humans and other animals. A Dog is considered to be man’s best friend, which is why they are most commonly used as therapy animals. However, other species may be used if their presence helps comfort a person. Therapy animals are most commonly used in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and more. All therapy animals must be registered. Additional screening is conducted to ensure a therapy animal is well tempered, does not shed excessively, is well socialized, and can cheer people up. Please visit the National Service Animal Registry’s webpage for more information about therapy animals.