Recently, Science Daily reported on the growing trend of emotional support animals. Specifically, they summarized a study conducted at the University of New Mexico which focuses on the ethical challenges of ESA’s showing up in places that were previously animal free.
We wanted to just briefly talk about that right now.
Jeffrey Younggren, a forensic psychologist and clinical professor at The University of New Mexico’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, recognizes the growing trend presents an ethical challenge for therapists asked to certify emotional support animals for their patients.
In their third paper on this topic, published by the American Psychological Association, Younggren and his co-authors propose a four-prong standard assessment model for practitioners to follow when asked to provide a patient with an ESA certificate. These solutions are meant to both better serve people with ESA’s as well as those who now have to accommodate them. They are:
1. Understanding, recognizing and applying the laws regulating ESAs.
2. A thorough valid assessment of the individual requesting an ESA certification.
3. An assessment of the animal in question to ensure it actually performs the valid functions of an ESA.
4. An assessment of the interaction between the animal and the individual to determine whether the animal’s presence has a demonstrably beneficial effect on that individual.
In our opinion, Dr. Younggren gives a very fair and objective assessment of the current state of relations between humans and emotional support animals. He understands that this is a symbiotic relationship where both animals and humans need one another, especially in this day and age.
He also recognizes the fact while emotional support animals can absolutely help people, they must actually serve a purpose. Thus, the “ESA” label cannot and should not be used as a free pass to travel with your pet.
This is why we have customers fill out the pre-qualifying mental health evaluation form any time they order from us. This is to make sure that there is a mental or emotional disability that the ESA will help with.
Read the full article here.
Read the full study from the University of New Mexico here.