Do Emotional Support Dogs Require Vests?

Do Emotional Support Dogs Require Vests?

Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) are animals that offer comfort and support to mentally or emotionally disabled individuals in forms of constant companionship and unconditional affection. As per the National Institute of National Health, 1 out of 4 American adults suffer from some type of emotional disorder, and animals can significantly help alleviate the symptoms of those disorders.

Unlike service animals, Emotional Support Animals are not mandated to perform special tasks, like fetching medication or assisting a blind person cross the road. They are solely meant for the purpose of emotional comfort and entertainment. Primarily, ESAs help alleviate symptoms of health conditions such as anxiety, fear and paranoia, mood disorders, panic attacks, social anxiety and other different psychological and emotional conditions.

Do Emotional Support Dogs Require Vests?

Under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACCAA) and Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA), a person who qualifies the applicable criteria is entitled to an ESA. However, there are no regulations or laws that require an ESA to be identified through an ID or a vest, unlike service animals. However, it is recommended that for your own convenience, you should have your ESA wear an easily distinguishable vest, especially when traveling. This will help landlords, airline staff, and other members of the public look for your ESA in case he gets lost and also help people see that he is more than just a pet.

esa dog vestIn addition, it is suggested that you put something on your ESA’s vest that says “working dog” or “please don’t pet” since most people merely do not know better. Having strangers continuously come up to your pet can be very distracting for your emotional support animal and can also reduce his ability to help you remain calm and collected in case of a medical emergency. Remember ESA animals are meant for alleviating your symptoms. Furthermore, having to explain everyone that your pet is, in fact, an ESA can be very exhausting in absence of an identification vest.

If you are planning to get a vest for your emotional support animal, you will first need to measure him. Of course, pets like hamsters and fish will not require a vest but for cats and dogs, make sure to properly measure them first so you can order the right size. To do that, you will need to use a flexible measuring tape and place it around the animal’s girth, use the measuring tape go below him at the broadest area of the rib cage.

You can choose a vest from a number of fabrics, styles, and colors. Popular vest types include padded, backpack, mesh and light-weight cotton vests.

How Do you qualify for an Emotional Support Animal?

In order to get an ESA or register your current pet as an ESA, you will require a letter from a doctor or a licensed mental health professional confirming that you indeed suffer from a mental/emotional disorder and the animal brings you therapeutic benefits and also helps mitigate symptoms of the disability. You can either receive a letter from a licensed therapist (some airlines and landlords also accept letters from a family doctor) or you can conveniently get it via an online website. If you decide to go with the latter option, make sure to read the website’s testimonials and go through general feedback left by customers. This will help you determine the company’s legitimacy and also help avoid any last-minute issues.

Keep in mind that your ESA letter should not be more than a year old – this is going to make the pet’s identification process as an ESA easier.