Pets Provide Emotional Support, Reduced Medical Problems

Recently there have been numerous articles regarding the use of emotional support animals. Many pets are being labeled as emotional support animals, even though they have no specialized training or registration with any specific group. This has caused problems on airlines and in venues that limit animal entry to those specifically designated as therapy animals.

I decided to see how easy it is to "register" one of my dogs as an emotional support animal. I was able to go online and buy a service animal vest, ID card, and registration for under $100. They will even provide a legal doctor's letter stating I qualify for a service animal. While many would say, how awful is this? - This undermines those who really do have a need for a service animal and can be misused by anyone wanting to travel with their animals alongside at all times. I agree with this somewhat, however in reality, how many pet owners do suffer from anxiety and get relief just by being in the presence of their pets?

I spend many, many long days at my office running from one patient to the next, answering emails and phone calls, filling prescriptions, performing surgery, and making life or death decisions. At the end of the day, nothing makes me happier than walking into my home and being surrounded by spaniels excited to welcome me. I instantly drop to my knees and give pats and snuggles while receiving kisses and spaniel grins. Once I drop all my bags from work and settle into my rocker, my ancient cat, Star, jumps on my lap and climbs to my shoulder for hugs. We sit quietly while she purrs and I decompress. Spaniels come by to receive more pats and snuggles before settling at my feet. As the troubles associated with the day's turmoil begin to melt away, I appreciate the comfort of my animals.

Some days I will take one of the dogs to work with me. I love having them sleeping at my feet under my desk. Taking them out for a mid-day walk definitely improves my outlook for the afternoon chaos. My pets are definitely "therapy" pets, even though they haven't received an official certification; I suspect this is true for many animals and their people. So who determines when an animal is a true "therapy" animal?

In my opinion, the biggest problems seem to occur when people have animals that are not well suited or well trained to be considered as therapy animals. Let's face it, no one wants to spend five hours in an airplane cabin with a howling, barking dog or yowling cat. And the thought of an iguana or peacock as a therapy animal seems far-fetched. Small pigs are extremely intelligent and make great therapy animals, but I will admit that most people probably do not want to be seated on a plane next to a pig.

So where do we draw the line? As pets become more important in family structures I believe more people will want to travel with their animals by their sides. One of the reasons we bought an RV is so we can take pets with us. We see dogs, cats, birds, turtles, and plenty of other animals in campgrounds around the country. Obviously, we are not the only people that don't want to leave our pets behind.

For more information on mental health and the benefits provided by our pets, check out this great article sent to me by Will Tottle.

Back to blog