Emotional Support Animals are becoming an increasingly common sight in much of the world. People who struggle with anxiety are encouraged to acquire a well-behaved pet in order to help them cope with a number of mental health issues such as social anxiety.
The value of emotional support animals is easily demonstrated. They can fulfill a number of needs. These might include companionship, giving their owner a way to combat feelings of intense loneliness. This was touchingly, if humorously, addressed on a recent episode of CBS’ tv series SWAT. An officer was reluctant to move into a residence by himself, so his colleagues purchased a dog for him.
However, there is something to point out regarding this use of animals as emotional support, and that is a matter of etiquette.
Rude Owners Abuse the Privilege
There are multiple instances of animals designated as Support Animals that have misbehaved. Their antics have ranged from public urination and defecation to outright attacks on fellow airline travelers.
This has lead to a degree of significant negative press and reaction from the public. American Airlines famously forbid emotional support animals from flight travel in the passenger compartments of their planes. Numerous restaurants have posted guidelines that while handicap service animals are indeed allowed, Support Animals are not.
Therefore, when taking your support animal into public, consider following these basic five steps of etiquette.
1: Respect Others’ Feelings
A fellow customer might be allergic to pet hair and dander. Someone may simply seem uncomfortable around your Support Animal. Try to be observant of how others are reacting to the presence of your companion, and adjust your presence accordingly if you can.
2: Respect Businesses and Their Policies
The law requires access to Service Animals, but Support Animals do not have the same degree of support. If a business forbids support animals, respect their decision.
3: Learn the Law
Learn what the laws regarding Support Animals are in your area. For example, housing restrictions on pets do not apply to Support Animals, but businesses are not necessarily required to admit them. Learn the laws so you better understand your rights and responsibilities.
4: Train Your Service Animal
Better-trained animals are safer and more effective. Consider investing in some thorough obedience and socialization training at your local provider, so your animal might be a better ambassador for Support Animals.
5: When In Doubt, Check Ahead
Ask if your Support Animal is welcome at the event or venue you will be bringing them to. Explain your situation as best you are able, and vouch for your pet’s behavior (especially if you’ve had them trained, as suggested) if you are able.
For more details, visit https://pethelpful.com/dogs/Etiquette-When-Dealing-With-Assistance-Dogs.