Sometimes, the only thing that can comfort us when we need it most is man’s best friend… or our best furry friend, whatever that may be. They instinctually know when we need them most and are there to provide us with the same care and love we show them. Stroking their fur can calm us down in the midst of a panic attack, or feeling their weight on our leg can ground us when we feel like the world is spinning all around us.
This is the reason that more and more doctors are whipping out their prescription pads not for drugs, but to write up a prescription that our animal companions remain close to us in case we find ourselves in need of their care during stressful times.
If you’re a resident of New Hampshire who is prone to panic attacks when you travel, or find yourself in large crowds of people, then perhaps you should talk to your doctor or therapist about an emotional support animal (ESA) prescription for yourself.
This article will guide you through the process, showing you all the regulations in New Hampshire and allowing you to register with the US Emotional Support Animal registry.
Service Animal or Emotional Support Animal – How Do I Know What Mine Is?
Service animals and emotional support animals can seem like the same thing to most people, but they are very different and so are the regulations surrounding each one. A significant difference is that service animals are generally restricted to specific breeds of dog, or in some cases miniature horses, whereas breed does not restrict emotional support animals.
If you have a disability like epilepsy or blindness, you will probably utilize the service of specially trained support animals. If you’re just in need of emotional companionship to keep you from having panic attacks or suicidal impulses thanks to depression, phobia, and anxiety disorders, then more than likely you are utilizing an emotional support animal instead. These animals do not receive the same rigorous specialized training, so make sure that you train yours before going into public or you may be on the hook if your animal attacks a child or misbehaves.
There are federal regulations protecting service animals and their owners from discrimination and allowing the service animals’ entry into all places their owners go – including casinos, public transit, restaurants, hair salons, and more. These regulations do not cover emotional support animals so extensively – mostly, they allow ESAs to enter aircraft cabins for travel and make exemptions to rental policies prohibiting pets. Read over the Fair Housing Amendment Act (FHAA) and the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), because these are the regulations covering rights for emotional support animals. Many states have begun expanding coverage from emotional support animals, so each one has different regulations that may allow ESAs into nearly as many places as service animals now.
Qualifications for Owning Emotional Support Animals
Qualification for emotional support animals in New Hampshire is not that different from other states in the region. They don’t have the same liberal guidelines as more progressive states like California, but they also don’t prevent you from registering in their state for the basic benefits provided for by FHAA and ACAA guidelines. So how do you go about getting these protections for yourself and your pet? First, you have to qualify.
Emotional support animals are just that. They are more than mere pets because they offer assistance for their owners with specific disabilities that may not be covered by the service animal regulations but nevertheless make for a better quality of living.
Psychological disorders are often prohibitive of living a perfectly normal lifestyle without provisions being made for those with disabilities. With the right care and the cooperation of businesses, educational systems, and people, those with psychological disorders can still lead very healthy and active lives. The assistance of an emotional support animal can do wonders in these situations. It has been especially noticeable when watching how autistic individuals respond with and without ESAs.
The far more common use for emotional support animals is with people who suffer from emotional disabilities like anxiety, phobias, and depression. Animals are a source of unwavering love and care, showing compassion and support no matter what mood their owner is in, and never becoming fatigued of providing that care. What better way to soak up the tears of someone with depression who just need something warm to hug and cry into, or to ground an anxious person and keep them from complete panic and hyperventilation when they experience an overwhelming situation?
Your ESA Letter from a Certified Mental Health Provider
One thing every qualified person needs in order to secure the rights and benefits provided for emotional support animals is a letter from their designated metal health professional.
A licensed provider will ask questions pertaining to your everyday life in order to properly assess your disability. They will determine whether you have depression or anxiety by determining your emotional stability, depressive episodes, things that cause panic and anxiety in your life, frequency of suicidal thoughts, and so forth. Once they evaluate your mental health, they will look into how your pet helps and alleviates a lot of the problems that these disabilities cause; for example, if your animal being nearby can prevent hyperventilation in panic attacks, then there is a case to be made that they are a necessary emotional support animal.
The ESA letter is issued by a licensed mental health professional. It must be written on their letterhead and contain their state, license number, handwritten signature, contact information, and the type of medicine and therapy they practice. You must also be under their care. These letters are valid for a year after issued, before needing renewal.
New Hampshire has a great advocacy resource that can help you with further questions about emotional support animals. They provide a helpful flyer listing out the nuances of having an emotional support animal I housing, including several frequently asked questions regarding deposits, exceptions, and regulations provided for in the Fair Housing Amendment Act (FHAA), so feel free to give them a call with any additional questions about how to get your pet approved as an emotional support animal before you register with the USSA.