Companion Animals Improve Mental Health
"According to the SAMHSA-HRSA Center for Integrated Health Solutions, “Trauma results from an event, series of events or set of circumstances experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or life-threatening with lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional or spiritual well-being.” Emerging evidence is suggesting interactions with animals may benefit trauma survivors."
Click to read full article: The Benefits of Companion Animals for Managing Trauma
"We’ve all most likely experienced a shocking event in our lifetime. It may have left us shaken for a time, but then we were able to move on from it. However, there are those that cannot move forward and relive the event over and over for months, years or perhaps even a lifetime. This extreme reliving of the anxiety and fear of the event may be the cause of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In this post, we will discuss PTSD, some of the causes, the symptoms and how an emotional support animal can help with post-traumatic stress disorder."
Click to read full article: How an Emotional Support Animal Can Help With PTSD
Click to read full article: Pets and Mental Health
The lines are often blurred between the roles and characterizations of the various types of assistance and ‘working’ animals. Fine legal distinctions are upheld however between emotional support, therapy, and service animals. It is therefore imperative that we clarify the differences.
Emotional Support Animals (ESAs)
Emotional support cats, simply put, are all about providing companionship, comfort, security, and love. They help people suffering from anxiety, depression, PTSD, or a mental or emotional disability. They live with their human and are usually constant companions.
Their presence assures relief from the symptoms of the emotional or mental disability. Emotional support animals do not require any special training. However, training an emotional support dog in basic obedience is always a good idea!
Many suitable pets are assigned as emotional support animals, and your cat may be one. Only a very few ESAs are however acceptable according to the ADA rules for housing.
While dogs are the most common type of ESAs, since they help with reducing symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other mental or emotional disabilities, cats make good emotional support animals too. Some breeds of cats are better than others at providing support, and you would do your best to research accordingly.
Therapy Cats do not live with the people they assist. These cats are brought into public places like assisted living, medical establishments, and schools, to work with patients or residents as required.
Therapy cats are working cats, whose owners volunteer their time in whichever facilities will benefit from their company, attention, and love. Cats read human body language remarkably well and know when people need extra love.
Therapy animals are therefore categorized into:
Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT): Cats in therapy programs assist people undergoing physical therapy after surgery or accidents, or while regaining fine motor control skills in their limbs. Simply holding or petting a cat can play an important role in the rehabilitation process. This form of therapy includes interactions with the cat as part of a structured treatment plan.
Animal-Assisted Activities Therapy (AAAT): This refers to any instance where a therapy cat supports patients, whether in an assisted-living facility or nursing homes. Trained handlers or psychologists on-site use the therapy cats as a reassuring presence for the residents and to provide comfort and support where needed.
Therapeutic visitation is the most common means of animal therapy. Pets “visit” people under the supervision of their handlers at rehabilitation centers, hospitals, nursing homes, libraries, schools, or even prisons!
Therapy animals are allowed in certain facilities only with the permission and upon invitation. They do not enjoy additional rights regarding air travel, no-pet housing, or establishments that are not pet-friendly.
Service animals are defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.
Other species of animals, (with the exceptions of the occasional miniature horse) whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not considered service animals. This definition immediately rules out cats. Only dogs and miniature horses are recognized as service animals.
What comes to mind first when thinking about service animals are guide dogs for the visually impaired. A psychiatric service dog is however also among the types of service dogs. These dogs receive specialized training in order to assist their handler with a specific mental illness or psychiatric disability, for example, schizophrenia, autism, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
These dogs help with specific tasks to mitigate their handler’s disabilities. Service animals have to be well behaved and socialized and may accompany their owners to all public areas and private businesses.
Who Needs Service Animal Registration When You Can Get an ESA Letter?
Not everyone in need of support for emotional disabilities requires a fully trained service animal. Excellent emotional support and companionship are provided by any pet who fulfills the role of an ESA.
Bear in mind that it is never the animal who is registered as an ESA, but rather the person who is diagnosed and prescribed the ESA.
The only requirement for the assignation of an ESA letter is to be diagnosed accordingly by a licensed medical health practitioner (LMHP) in your state. If you are considering getting an ESA, why not try CertaPet’s free online 5-minute pre-screening? If your answers show that you may be eligible for an ESA, we will connect you with a LMHP in your state."
Click to read full article: Understanding the Difference Between Emotional Support Cats, Therapy Cats, and Service Animals
"Support Cats: When the term emotional support animal – or ESA – is mentioned, the first thing many people think of is a friendly dog, but did you know cats can be an emotional support animal also? The fact is some people just are not dog people, and all too many put off getting an ESA because they think it has to be a dog.
However, an emotional support cat is a great way for people dealing with mental health complications such as anxiety or depression to live a more fulfilling, happy life each day. Emotional support cats are given the same benefits as emotional support dogs, and they can make for great companions."
Click to read full article: Emotional Support Cats | Benefits & How To Register Your Cat
"Did you know that the FHA allows emotional support cats to live with their owners? Additional pet fees cannot be charged for emotional support cats.
The FHA or Fair Housing Act allows you to live with your emotional support cat, even in “no-pets” apartments and condos. The FHA protects ESA owners from unlawful discriminatory acts by landlords and homeowner associations (HOA). If you find yourself being turned away for owning an ESA cat, you can contact the HUD and file a complaint.
Do You Qualify for an Emotional Support Animal?
To officially qualify for an emotional support cat, you must get an ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional stating your need for an ESA.
If you suffer from anxiety, depression, panic attacks, PTSD, or any number of mental illnesses you may already qualify for an emotional support animal. To officially qualify for an emotional support cat, you must have an ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional stating your need for an ESA. We recommend talking to your own therapist, but if you do not have one or do not have access to one, you may connect with a therapist in our network by clicking the link below and filling out the questionnaire.
Click to read the full article: How Can I Get an ESA Letter for my Cat? and What is the Fair Housing Act for Cats?
"Dogs are man’s best friend, the old saying goes...But now there is scientific evidence that dogs – and cats, birds, and even Guinea pigs – not only serve as a best friend to many people with bipolar or schizophrenia, but may also be a critical component to their recovery and mental stability.
Research published in December in BMC Psychiatry showed that most people with bipolar and schizophrenia placed their pets in “the central, most valued circle of support,” per the paper.1 “Pets constituted a valuable source of illness work in managing feelings through distraction from symptoms and upsetting experiences, and provided a form of encouragement for activity.
The latest study demonstrates the emotional support pets offer people suffering from mental illness. Increasingly, pets are even being “prescribed” to people in the U.S. suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. The pets often are highly trained to perform a variety of tasks to help people with PTSD manage anxiety.
Of course, pets also require a considerable degree of care and responsibility from their owners. But it’s that responsibility, as well as the pride of providing care to another living being, that conveys many of the therapeutic benefits that people with mental illness are sadly not getting from their fellow humans.”
Click to read the full article: FOR PEOPLE WITH PTSD OR BIPOLAR DISORDER, PETS INCREASINGLY BECOME “SERVICE DOGS” (OR CATS!)
"Taking care of an animal can be a great way to improve your mental health. But not every landlord allows pets. You can get around this if a mental health professional certifies that you need an emotional support animal. There are other types of service animals too—it’s important to understand what you’re trying to get, because the steps are different for each type."
Click to read full article: How Do I Get a Service Animal
"A growing body of research into PTSD and service animals paved the way for President Joe Biden to sign into law the Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (PAWS) for Veterans Therapy Act. The legislation, enacted in August, requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to open its service dog referral program to veterans with PTSD, and to launch a five-year pilot program in which veterans with PTSD help train service dogs for other veterans."
Heard on All Things Considered on November 26, 2021 at 10:32 AM ET
Click to read full article: More veterans with PTSD will soon get help from service dogs. Thank the 'PAWS' Act
"Increasingly, pets – dogs, in particular – are being found to be highly effective mental health treatment for American veterans returning from war with PTSD.
Recently, a video went viral on the Internet of a veteran with PTSD lighting up and even breaking into tears when he is presented with a beagle puppy.
Peter, like many people with PTSD, cannot handle large crowds. As a result, he largely sticks to himself, which has been concerning for his family and friends. So, they got him the beagle."
Click to read the full article: Pooches Bring Peace to People with PTSD
"Research suggests that psychiatric service dogs may be an effective complementary treatment option for military veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)."
Click to read full article: Defining the PTSD Service Dog Intervention
"Paws for Purple Hearts improves the lives of America's Warriors facing mobility challenges and trauma-related conditions such as PTSD...by building public awareness about the important role dogs play in helping Warriors along the road to recovery."
Click to read full article: PAWS for PURPLE HEARTS
"While many different animal species can be trained to perform tasks that aid individuals with disabilities—including pigs, cats, horses, monkeys and birds—by far, the most common service animals are dogs. Dogs can be trained to perform and variety of tasks, and their work helps individuals with disabilities and impairments lead more fulfilling and independent lives.
The use of emotional support animals and therapy animals has risen dramatically over the years and has provided an important benefit to many within the veteran community. A wide body of anecdotal evidence and scientific studies reflects what many already suspected—animal companionship can help support positive outcomes in physical and mental health.
However, with no governing body regulating the use or licensure of service animals, problems have arisen, often having the most negative impacts on individuals who rely on these animals to perform tasks related to their disability. With limited public understanding of the differences, some service animals have been unfairly and illegally denied access in public. In other cases, emotional support animals have wrongfully gained access to establishments under the guise of a service animal when they were not properly trained.
These three categories of assistance animals all perform different tasks and, as such, have different levels of public access protected by law.
Emotional support animals:
It is important to note these differences. Even though therapy animals and emotional support animals may be very well trained and properly behaved, they are still not qualified service animals and do not have the same access rights.
Some websites offer to—for a fee—add pets to a national registry of service animals. They may even provide special vests or identification cards. The problem is, however, that no such registry exists, and even with a vest, non-service animals are still not legally afforded the same access rights.
Rights and restrictions
According to the ADA, “service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.” The dog must not be a pet but is to be specially trained to assist the handler with tasks directly related to his or her disability.
The ADA also notes that its definition of a service dog “does not affect or limit the broader definition of ‘assistance animal’ under the Fair Housing Act or the broader definition of ‘service animal’ under the Air Carrier Access Act.”
Under the ADA, service dogs cannot be denied entrance to businesses (even food service establishments), state and local government facilities, or nonprofit organizations that serve the public.
However, service dogs must be under control at all times. This generally means they should be leashed or harnessed (unless these get in the way of the dog’s duties, in which case the dog must still be under the handler’s control).
The ADA mandates that a disabled person cannot be asked questions about his or her disability. The staff of businesses can only ask the following two questions to the handler of a service dog:
Handlers of service dogs cannot be charged more money because of their dogs nor can they be denied the rights and access granted to those without service animals. Disabled persons with service dogs can only be asked to leave the premises if the dog is out of control and cannot be corrected by the handler, or if the dog is not house-trained.
Types of service dogs
There are many types of service dogs, and some even serve multiple purposes. Potential service dogs go through rigorous training programs before they can team up with a handler. Here are a few common types of service dogs:
Service dogs on the job
Most of the time, service dogs can be easily identified. Many wear special vests and/or harnesses and pay close attention to their handlers. However, special identification is not actually required.
Never assume that a dog is or is not a service animal. Always be sure to ask before petting a dog. (Even if the dog is a pet, this is essential to prevent bites.) Service dogs should not be petted, fed or otherwise given attention while at work. Please be respectful and allow these dogs to do their jobs. They make a major difference in the lives of disabled people.
There are no specific rules about what a service dog should or should not wear. They do not need to be identified with special harnesses or vests.
Does the VA cover service dogs?
In some cases, VA benefits will cover service dogs. Veterans need to meet with their health care provider to discuss their physical or mental health limitations to determine if a service dog will be an appropriate treatment approach. If it is determined that a service dog is ideal, the application will be submitted on behalf of the veteran. Each case is individually reviewed by a clinician to assess the goals to be accomplished by use of a service dog and the ability and means of the veteran and/or caregiver to care for the dog.
Working service dogs prescribed by the Department of Veterans Affairs are provided veterinary care and equipment through the VA Prosthetic & Sensory Aids Service. However, the VA does not pay for the dog or for boarding, grooming, food or other routine expenses. Read more about the VA’s veterinary health benefits at http://www.prosthetics.va.gov/ServiceAndGuideDogs.asp.
In 2016, the Center for Compassionate Care Innovation partnered with the VA Offices of Mental Health Services and Prosthetic & Sensory Aids Service to extend eligibility for veterinary care, travel support, specialized equipment and travel support to veterans with chronic mobility issues associated with a mental health disorder, to include help with costs involved with caring for their service dogs when they receive them from an approved agency accredited by Assistance Dogs International.
Could your dog be a service dog?
Many people wish they could take their pet everywhere with them. However, wanting this and needing it are two different things. Many instances of improperly trained animals biting, messing or otherwise misbehaving in public settings have created issues for individuals who require the assistance of a service animal. This can add to mistrust and poor sentiment among business owners and the general public.
The ADA rules are intended to ensure that disabled people are not interrogated or made to feel inferior when out in public with their service animals. This is an important rule. However, it also makes it easy to pass off pets as service animals.
A pet may have the appropriate temperament to train as a service animal, though many begin their training very early in life and spend many months undergoing rigorous training in specific tasks. You can seek out reputable trainers to aid in preparing an animal for service work. This can be an expensive investment, costing tens of thousands of dollars, and not all trainers will consider working with personal dogs.
Assistance Dogs International accredits training groups throughout the world, holding them to rigorous, high standards. A full list of member training groups in the United States can be found here.
DAV and service/assistance animals
The DAV Charitable Service Trust awards grants to help local and national programs provide direct services to veterans. Among the many program that the Trust supports are several that deal with service dogs and other types of service animals.
Click to read full article: DAV Service Animals
Best Friends Animal Society | Responsible Pet Ownership
"Pets are part of the family, and we believe they should be treated as such. Everyone who cares for a pet has the ultimate responsibility to lead by example and ensure that the animal they care for is well-behaved and appropriately managed.
It is also the responsibility of every owner to ensure that their pet is sterilized, microchipped and wearing an identification tag. This is especially critical for cats who are allowed outdoors, because owned cats are often killed in shelters long before they can be reunited with their owners. Most cats who are brought into the shelter environment are incredibly frightened, so they are mistaken for feral cats and killed long before a hold period has expired.
Other considerations to ensure that you’re being a responsible pet owner include:
We believe ideally that all owned cats belong safely indoors. Indoor cats can easily receive all the exercise and stimulation they require to be happy and healthy while safely indoors, which also keeps them away from wildlife.
If you would like to offer your cat a taste of the outdoors, there are accommodations you can make that minimize risks to both cats and wildlife. Walking your cat on a leash is a growing trend, and something that we do with some of the cats who live at Best Friends. A cattery or catio (an enclosed space attached to the exterior of a building that allows cats to be outside) or another form of commercially available cat containment can be effective ways to offer your cat some fresh air while keeping him/her safely confined."
Click to read original: Responsible pet ownership
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