By Caitlyn McKey

Most pets have an unconditional love for their owners.  Can you blame them?  We are the main source of their care, the biggest celebrity of their life.  We provide them love, happiness and well-being.  If you are a pet owner and you love your pet as if they were your own child, then you already understand the healing effects of your relationship.  You can feel it just about every time you interact with them.  There can be a bond so impenetrable between pets and their owners that both sides would risk their own lives for each other.  It’s no wonder pets can be certified as emotional support animals!

I’m sure you’re wondering what an emotional support animal is and what exactly they do.  Emotional support animals support their owners with emotional, mental and physical disabilities by giving companionship and affection.  Training in any particular task is not necessary for certifying your pet as an emotional support animal.  There is a process that should be taken up with your local licensed mental health professional.  During this process, it is very important to be as honest and open about your mental state, the state of your pet and your relationship. 

Benefits of having an emotional support animal can vary quite extensively, but ultimately, it enhances your quality of life.  When suffering with a mental, emotional or physical disability, it’s crucial to have someone who holds no judgement and provides unconditional love for you.    This is why pets fit that role so well.  When certified through the correct process (really do your research), your support animal can accompany you on flights and live with you if you are renting your home.

If you are considering getting an emotional support animal, it is important to remember that this animal is a family member.  They are dependent upon you for their overall well-being, which poses its own set of responsibilities—and even stress for some.  Just like a child though, the more you love and respect them, the more they will return the feelings 100 percent! Having an emotional support animal can change your life.  So, if you are someone who is suffering with an emotional or mental disability, consult with your mental health professional about your options and how they can help you through the process!

After its seven-year “Canines and Childhood Cancer Study,” the Journal of Pediatric Oncology Nursing found that frequent visits between their therapy dog and children with cancer improved the patients’ and families’ mental state of mind.

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