Recent research on animals has found that they have whole communication systems that they share with each other, including emotions. People have begun to realize that animals need more attention. And that pets can be of tremendous emotional benefit to their owners.
Pets can be a major source of emotional support for people in a variety of situations. Even the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has changed its rules to fully support owners who benefit greatly from having an animal for emotional support. The department allows the animal to stay with the owner and do so without requiring a security deposit when moving in and allowing the animal to stay in types of housing where pets or animals are not normally allowed. Some of these types of housing may include college or university housing such as dormitories, residence halls or university-owned apartments.
How can an emotional support animal save someone’s life?
Let’s look at an example like this. A person with an emotional or psychiatric disability may have emotions that predispose them to suicidal thoughts and severe depression. It is easy for a person who is overcome by such thoughts to feel that suicide is the only way out. As a result, their behavior begins to change.
An emotional support animal will notice that its owner is beginning to show signs of depression and will interrupt the process. The dog is not able to read the owner’s mind, but it reads the owner’s behavior and energy and then intervenes. This is why many people get certified as an emotional service animal or ESA.
Learn more about getting an ESA certificate for your pet that gives you so much emotional support.
Without this “rescue” pet intervention, the owner would be left to their own devices and indulge in those negative emotions that are not good for them. If these are emotions related to depression, his depression may become deeper and deeper until he begins to think about suicide every waking moment. These thoughts must be interrupted in order for their owner to return to a normal life again.
All emotions have a certain feeling or energy. For example, a certain heaviness may be felt in the room where the wearer is, which goes along with depression. When there is anger, there is a sense of aggression in the room. When there is happiness, there is a sense of lightness in the room.
Pets can sense feelings and what happens without training
Pets are able to sense these feelings, and if the animal is compassionate, its job will be to come up to the owner and ask to be petted, let out, fed, or do something to get the owner out of the bed or chair where it is. This serves as a legitimate way to interrupt the person’s thinking. The owner must now attend to the dog and give up thoughts of suicide. Then, after taking care of the animal, the owner can return to the chair or bed, but there is a good chance that he will not return to the same thoughts. In this way, an emotional service animal can save the owner’s life.
Anxiety also indicates the need for an emotional service animal
Another example is people with anxiety disorder. In an anxiety disorder, the dog picks up stress signals. It may be a chaotic sensation of tension in the air, as well as signs of intense owner anxiety, sweating, irritability, restlessness, or trembling, all accompanied by fear.
The dog will naturally pick up on these signals and run to his owner. As studies on emotional support animals have shown, the owner’s blood pressure will immediately drop as soon as he starts petting the dog.
Post-traumatic stress disorder shows the need for an emotional service animal
And another example is an owner who may have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In this case, the person suddenly recalls an incident from their past that was extremely intense and then begins to relive the situation with feelings of panic, fear, and a host of other negative emotions.
PTSD is very distressing for both the person and the family whose member suffers from the disorder. However, an emotional service animal will help the owner interrupt the replaying of the scenario in their brain. In this way, the owner can return to the present moment, where there is no danger. This is exactly what is needed, because during a panic, a person can react in a way that puts his or her life in danger.
The benefits of an emotional service animal – and certification
Having animals around a person who is emotionally or mentally disturbed quickly becomes one of the best things you can do. Animals help reduce anxiety levels. They give you a constant companion – one who won’t disagree with your views on many things. They reduce feelings of loneliness.
What’s more, research shows that emotional service animals can reduce stress, reduce pain, increase feelings of happiness and pleasure, and reduce depression and blood pressure. Dogs are the most common type of emotional service animal, but cats can also perform the same function. An emotional service animal is not just a pet; it is an animal that does a specific job.
An emotional service animal does not have to be federally certified, but having a certificate will help convince housing officials that your dog or animal is really helping you.
Get connected with a licensed healthcare professional to obtain an ESA letter