Emotional Support Animal – definition, essence + meaning

Animals help with primary and secondary * psychological or psycho-somatic impairments,

*even if other impairments of a physical or mental nature are triggering.

It is now generally accepted that animals can make a significant contribution to improving the quality of life for people. A prerequisite is an upright bond / relationship between humans and a specific animal.

The supportive / wellbeing function of a “living supportive device” only exists if and as long as the animal is in close proximity to its human being. If this animal is prevented from performing its function, for example when removed or through the intervention of a third party, the condition of the sick / impaired person can deteriorate dramatically. The animal is therefore medically necessary and confirmed as part of the therapeutic concept for this person.

An animal becomes an emotional support animal when it has health-promoting, stabilizing and motivating effects on a specific person and when it is in the immediate vicinity of the specific person. The phenomenon of support is scientifically proven in attachment – and social theories.

Legal basis:
The EU Charter of Fundamental Rightsprohibits disability discrimination and recognizes the right of people with disabilities to integrate.

Your animal is the “best medicine” for you! – We would like to support this!

ESAeurope cannot assume any responsibility whatsoever for whether your support animal is recognized by a third party in individual cases. The decision about this – including the responsibility for your animal and your actions – lies with the respective responsible body / person, or with you as the animal owner. Therefore ESAeurope rejects all responsibilities what so ever . Wir zeigen mit der ESAeurope Card an, dass ein Mensch mit psychischen Problemen den Nachweis erbracht hat, dass der Bedarf eines emotionalen Stütztieres gegeben ist. The ESAeurope Card thus replaces the multitude and diversification of possible confirmations and regulations and simplifies the proof that an emotionally oriented human / animal partner team exists.

Which animals can support people emotionally?

There are basically no restrictions. A persons real bond with a specific animal can be classified as a phenomenon. In practice, however, it turns out that dogs are primarily registered as emotional support animals, since they are not only highly social, intelligent and completely free from prejudices, but also have adapted well to them due to their long historical ties with people and thus animal welfare can be guaranteed under the Animal Welfare Act. In any case, the owner is responsible for his animal and its welfare.

Special tasks of the animal companion using the example of the dog can be:

  • Accompanimentin everyday life
  • Feeling moods
  • Erkennen von Stimmungsumbrüchen und Depressionen
  • Make peopleaware of their behavior
  • Wake upfrom a nightmare, then turn on the lights
  • Create distanceto other people by intervening
  • Interrupt FlashBacks
  • Create dissociation (alienation, display disturbed perception)
  • to provide safety
  • Remind youof necessary medication
  • Imparting self-confidence
  • Coping with stressful situations
  • Assistance in frightening situations
  • Strengtheningself-confidence

Identification of ESA animals:

On the animal with a special vest, brand, leash:

Although ESAs are not generally recognized, they are enjoying increasing acceptance in everyday life insofar as they are marked. If the ESA is marked with a work vest, it has increased chances with the person belonging to it to enter areas that are closed to ordinary animals (e.g. supermarket, authorities, etc.).
The labeling of the animal signals that you are dependent on this animal and that it has a special function for you as person. Furthermore, labeling is a good way to prevent inquiries and complaints from uninvolved third parties from the outset during the movement in normally inaccessible areas. Labeling the animal also promotes public awareness of the difference between a pet and a functional animal!

Labeling on humans:

Supporting recognizable is the wearing of a special armband or lapel pin. These equipments indicate that humans and animals should not be separated.

Definition Emotional Support Animal / ESA
(following Dr. Beate Pottmann-Knapp 2019)

An emotional support animal (ESA) is a pet/animal that brings emotional benefits to a human/owner with an impairment and/or disability.

An emotional support animal is therefore an animal companion or animal partner that brings effective benefits to a person with a disability. The benefit for the person is given by the constant presence / proximity of the animal itself and is explained by the human being’s bond with an animal. The animal does not have to perform any special services. It is not a work or assistant animal with special tasks.

An emotional support animal (ESA) can be any animal whose use has been confirmed by a qualified doctor, psychiatrist, or other mental health professional due to a disability-related need. An ESA animal has not been trained to perform a specific task. ESAs are no service animals. Therefore, they must not be compared with working dogs, such as guide dogs, assistance animals, service animals, therapy animals or visiting service dogs, which have been trained to perform special tasks.

In order to receive an emotional support animal, the person registering such an animal, must have a demonstrable emotional disability. The benefit and function that the animal performs for humans must be confirmed by a doctor, psychologist or psychotherapist. In individual cases, in addition to the submission of a confirmed diagnosis, a declaration by a psychosocial support association may be sufficient. The ESAeurope Card confirms this connection between the diagnosis made and the benefits of the animal.

Additional Information

In the European Union, reference can be made to the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability and recognizes the right of people with disabilities to integrate and to live. (“Values ​​such as dignity, autonomy, equality and inclusion (…) are central principles of the EU. The latest UN Human Rights Agreement (CRPD) expressly states that the key concepts of self-determination, participation and inclusion also apply to people with disabilities, namely people , “who have long-term physical, mental, mental or sensory impairments which, in interaction with various barriers, can prevent them from participating fully, effectively and equally in society”.

In any case, the admission requirements on site, as well as location and country-specific, must be complied with and requested documents must also be presented in individual cases alongside the ESAeurope Card if this is desired. This is important for your own safety! The licensing authority and the animal owner are liable for property damage and personal injury in an emergency. Appropriate animal liability insurance is recommended.

Within the United States of America, ESAs are legally defined (American people with Disabilities Act (ADA), Fair Housing Act), while in Europe there is no corresponding legal protection.

The Law on Access to Airlines provides for special certifications for ESAs travelling with airlines.