Animals have been trained in many different ways to help humans. Some animals help humans emotionally and others help them physically. Emotional support animals can help people who are anxious, depressed or have other mental health issues. Emotional support animals and comfort animals are not necessarily considered service animals. Any animal that provides therapeutic support can be considered an emotional support animal. The difference between emotional support animals and service animals is that emotional support animals are any type of animal that provides therapeutic comfort to their owner. Unlike a service dog, that is specifically trained to perform tasks to help someone with a disability. Because everyone’s disability affects them differently, most service dogs will be trained to help the specific needs of their owner. Often, therapy dogs will visit hospitals and nursing homes to help bring joy to the patients. Many of them, especially the children that have been visited, said it made them happy and helped to motivate them to get better. Universities also utilize the benefits of animals. Some of them keep a therapy dog on campus to help relieve the stress and anxiety of students. It’s also said, having a dog on campus can help students feel more at home. Dogs and other animals have been shown to help people reduce stress and stay healthier. Playing with, or petting an animal, can help decrease a person’s stress level. And studies have shown that interactions with animals can decrease the production of stress hormones like cortisol and increase the stress-reducing hormone Oxytocin. Through my grandmother Carrie Bonavita, I had a chance to see just how important an emotional support animal can be. When my grandfather Michael passed away, she adopted a chihuahua, & named her Matilda. The two became inseparable, and Matilda helped bring support and comfort to my grandmother during that difficult time. They immediately developed a special bond, and anywhere she went, Matilda was not far behind. Like any good emotional support dog, Matilda was always there when my grandma needed her. On May 27th, 2018, my grandma Carrie passed away at the age of 81. She was a truly inspiring woman who worked hard all her life. And even as she got older, she wanted to continue to work and keep busy. I’d like to dedicate this article to her for always being there for me, and for continuously inspiring and encouraging me. She loved LI Pet Lover and was so proud of my contributions. I will always remember her endless smile, kind heart, and incredible strength and courage. She was an amazing woman!
Victoria’s Fun Facts and Tips:
• Emotional support animals can usually fly on planes for free if you have a note from your doctor.
• People have brought animals like pigs, ducks, turkeys, & even a kangaroo on planes as emotional support animals.
• It’s important to do your research on service, therapy, and emotional support animals because they each have a different role in helping humans.
• Most emotional support animals are allowed to live in “no pet” housing and are allowed to board airplanes.
• Animals of all kinds are available for adoption at the Babylon Animal Shelter. Later this month, you can visit their new, state-of-the-art, 10 million-dollar, 13,000 square-foot facility in N. Amityville. Go rescue a pet! You’ll be glad you did! • My grandmother had six kids, 14 grand-kids and was a psychiatric nurse for nearly 50 years. Matilda is a long haired chihuahua rescued from a puppy mill. She can get herself out of a locked crate.
Animals Shown (Nemo, Paige, Coby, and Cooper) are all available for adoption at the Babylon Animal Shelter.
Written by Victoria Bonavita