CNA Explains: What are emotional support animals and how do you get one?

How can animals help?

Pawsibility, which includes the option of therapy dogs in sessions, told CNA that such animals may help clients feel “reduced anxiety, feel more relaxed” and talk more safely about difficult issues. told CNA.

“Studies show that petting a friendly therapy dog ​​for 15 minutes slows heart rate, lowers blood pressure, reduces symptoms of stress and anxiety such as the stress hormone cortisol, and increases the presence of happy hormones such as oxytocin and endorphins. is shown.”

While traveling, animals help people with mental health conditions by reducing anxiety symptoms, staying focused in the present moment instead of “ruminating about negative thoughts and worries,” and providing companionship. You can, said Pawsibility.

A study published in the journal PLOS ONE in June showed that a dog intervention lowered stress levels in children.

The study involved 149 8- and 9-year-olds from the UK with neurotypical and atypical phenotypes, divided into three groups.

In one group, children spent 20 minutes with a trained dog and its handler twice a week for a month. If the dogs and children were motivated, they petted the dogs for a few minutes, asked questions and played with them.

In another group, children worked on relaxation exercises in the absence of the dog for the same time frame, and a third group served as a control.

The study found that children in the dog intervention group had lower cortisol levels than children in the other two groups.

In an interview with Healthline, Dr. Jesse Werner Cohen, a health psychologist at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, said that having a support animal for someone with depression can give them hope and a sense of purpose.

How do you get an animal to support you emotionally?

To qualify as an assistance dog in Singapore, an emotional support dog must undergo the necessary training by an affiliate of the International Assistance Dog Association or the International Guide Dog Federation.

Assistance Dogs International is a coalition of non-profit programs that train and place assistance dogs, according to its website. The International Guide Dog Federation also has an accreditation and evaluation process.

In other countries, emotional support animals are required to bring proper paperwork.

In the United States, the only legitimate way to get an emotional support animal is to obtain a letter of recommendation from a licensed medical professional.

According to ESA Doctors, a U.S.-based organization that helps people obtain emotional support dog documentation, a person has “a mental or physical condition that substantially limits major life activities such as work, sleep and socializing.” Must have an emotional health disorder.

The organization said common conditions that emotional support animals help with are depression, anxiety, phobias, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

With an emotional support letter, animals may be exempt from some of the no-pet policies, such as size and breed restrictions, ESA doctors say.

What do I need to travel with my emotional support dog?

An SIA spokesperson told CNA on Monday that customers departing from Singapore will still be able to travel with their emotional support dogs after 1 April if they submit their request before this deadline.

Anyone traveling on SIA who wishes to bring an emotional support dog must obtain the relevant import and export permits. A transshipment license is required if the passenger is transiting through Singapore.

Their owners must also have a veterinary health certificate and a letter of rabies vaccination.

A signed statement by a licensed mental health professional within one year of the date of travel is also required.

The letter must state that the passenger has a mental or emotional disorder recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and is receiving professional care.

Emotional support dogs are required for air travel and passenger destination activities, and licensing information for licensed mental health professionals must also be provided. Passengers must also have a completed confirmation form.

According to SIA, to fly with an emotional support dog, the dog must be at least 4 months old, trained to obey commands, behave appropriately, and pose no direct threat to the health and safety of other customers. Do not give.

Small dogs (under the size of a 2-year-old child) may sit on a passenger’s lap, but larger dogs must sit on the passenger compartment floor in front of the passenger seat. Absorbent material should also always be placed on the passenger compartment floor under the dog.

Dogs may not be seated, on a leash or in a pet carrier, obstruct the legroom of other passengers, or block aisles or emergency exits. Muzzles are not required unless the dog is of a restricted breed, SIA said.

Restricted breeds include Bull Terriers, German Shepherds, Mastiffs, Pitbulls and Rottweilers.

SIA said emotional support dogs cannot be brought on board when traveling to and from Australia, New Zealand, the UK and some destinations including Bali, Brunei and San Francisco. This is due to import and export regulations for certain destinations. A full list can be found here.

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