There is a lot of confusion these days about what a Service Animal is, what an Emotional Support Animal is, what the similarities and differences are, and what benefits registering such animals gives you.
One of the biggest differences is that Service Animals (which can include Emotional Support Animals) are any animal that is individually trained or able to assist a person with a physical disability; or any animal that assists persons with disabilities by providing emotional support. Service dogs have more legal protections under federal laws than emotional support dogs; and they are allowed in just about every public space. Emotional support dogs do not enjoy that same widespread access.
Still, there are plenty of cases where people are doing emotional support registration of dogs, and a variety of other animals, so as to take them on airplanes with them; be allowed to have their pets in rental units that would otherwise prohibit pets, and so forth.
Registering Your Dog
First, understand that you are not legally obligated to register an emotional support animal (ESA); it is completely voluntary. That said, registering your pet makes him or her look legitimate or official. That can help eliminate questions or concerns some people may have and helps cut down on the hassles or confrontations you may have with authorities.
Emotional support dog registration is easy, and yet, many people don’t know how to go about it, or even what requirements their dog must meet for them to qualify. When you’re searching for a website on which to register your dog or other animal, do some research to ensure the site is legitimate. Any domesticated animal can be registered as an emotional support animal. Again, these animals do not provide a physical service or do specific tasks for the owner, like service animals do. The job of an emotional support animal is to provide you comfort and keep you calm in otherwise stressful, or emotionally upsetting situations, such as flying or living alone, etc.
Moreover, an emotional support has no requirements to meet, other than to be manageable in public places and to not be a nuisance to others in those settings.
What If You’re Traveling by Common Carrier?
If you are traveling somewhere by plane, train, boat, or even bus, you should check with the carrier in advance of your arriving for your departure. Ask them what requirements they have for an emotional support animal to travel with you. They may require a letter from a treating physician to prove you have such a need. They also may require something from you r pet’s veterinarian stating it is current on all shots it may need and is in good health and free of disease. Be sure to ask them if you can get those documents anytime or if they need to be within a specific number of days before traveling.
Ask them, also, if they require emotional support registration and if they additionally want a patch, vest, and/or certificate identifying the animal as an emotional support animal. If you do these things, you should have no problems and your travels should be smooth sailing.