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Feigning mental illness to own emotional support animal harms 4-legged friends

ESA

ESA


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An Emotional Support Animal (ESA) is a personal companion that a medical professional approves of to provide therapeutic benefits for a person with a mental disability. I have an ESA because I have clinically diagnosed major depression and social anxiety.

My ESA is there for me so I don’t have to cry by myself; she helps me be brave and step outside when I’m terrified. She is my guardian and my best friend. However, she is not my ESA just so I can have a dog in my college apartment.

It has come to my attention that some individuals think it’s okay to fake a disability in order to live with an animal for free or in college settings. As required by law via the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), ESAs must be permitted to live with their owner indiscriminately.

Rebecca Wisch of Michigan State University College of Law states that “just as a wheelchair provides a person with a physical limitation the equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling, an emotional support animal provides a person with a mental illness or psychiatric disability the same opportunity to live independently.”

In this case, the right to housing is what some people are unjustly taking advantage of.

Is it okay to fake a medical issue? That’s what depression and anxiety are–medically determined issues. I see a therapist weekly and have a psychiatrist that regulates my medications, all so I can function how everyone else does in society.

Mental illness isn’t something you can see all the time; I don’t let others see me cry if I can help it. Also, mental illness isn’t something to be faked for the benefits, that is if they can really be called benefits. I have a letter for my professors from Student Disability Services regarding what I can’t handle and allowing my ESA Delilah to comfort me when I’m in need.

Yes, Delilah is a dog and, yes, she is cute. However, that does not give anyone the right to yell out how cute she is as we walk by, nor does it give them the right to reach out to pet her without my permission. She is here for me and she is doing her job. Her vest is there so that people may know she is providing a service to me. However, this is not the best deterrent.

When I’m confronted by someone adamantly wanting to pet her, I go into a state of panic. I want to go home and cry. I just wanted to go for a walk with my ESA in peace. Yes, an ESA is an animal, but they are designated to who they are meant to help. They are not there for someone else’s psychological gain in the case of wanting to pet a cute dog.

Emotional Support Animals are there for people who need them. They are not just another pet.They are there to help those of us who can’t get through a day without assistance. They are there for us to cry with and to hold when we are lost and alone.

Please don’t abuse the system and give those of us with ESAs a bad reputation. Mental illness is a disability like any other, and it’s about time it was treated seriously.

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Feigning mental illness to own emotional support animal harms 4-legged friends