In the US, the number of emotional support animals is growing steadily. Thousands of mental health patients have been able to survive difficult times with their ESAs without expensive therapy sessions and medical bills. However, acknowledging the importance of emotional support animals in the UK is still a controversial subject. While airlines in the US allow passengers to travel with emotional support animals, (they should have specific documentation to prove they need one) the rules are different in the UK.
British Airways let passengers carry their assistance dogs in the cabin with prior agreement, whereas all other emotional support animals need to travel in the hold. According to The British Airways, if an individual is travelling with a recognized assistance dog, the dog will be placed in the cabin, without any additional cost. Unfortunately, you cannot book this service in advance but when it comes to the actual flight, there are a limited number of spaces for dogs.
However, when it comes to ESAs, they have to be placed in the cargo bay but the airline assures IAG World Cargo takes good care of all transporting animals and pets. An Emotional Support Animal is a companion animal for people having physical and psychological needs. The animal does not necessarily have to be task-trained and the purpose of keeping one is to benefit from the unconditional love and affection it provides.
Research implies that mental health issues in the UK are rising and mental health services struggle to provide effective and timely solutions as people have to wait for months to get appointments. An emotional support animal offers long-term support and will help people spend less with this permanent support system.
Owing to extensive researches around the world, ESAs are now prescribed in some states in the US and are recognized legally as service animals that receive the same rights as guide dogs. There are many companies in the US, such as TherapyPet.org and EmotionalSupportAnimalCo.com, that make it very easy to obtain this type of documentation for your pet. However, in the UK, emotional support animals are simply not recognized even though prisons, educational institutions and medical premises provide sessions with therapy dogs, to help reduce anxiety, depression and stress.
Since ESAs are required to follow animal import and quarantine rules, there are a few places in the world where they are not allowed at all, such as Maldives, or have to go into quarantine (New Zealand or Australia). Therefore, you should check with the embassy of the country that you want to visit with your emotional support pet.
Nothing is documented in the guidance document about the UK regulations about giving access to guide dogs and assistance dogs. Even though there is no law that prevents the British from accepting a pet or emotional support animal that travels by air with its owner, it is uncertain if the handler of a privately trained assistance dog will be allowed to attend places of public accommodation and public transportation.
By assisting individuals with disabilities to function better in society, emotional support animals serve a greater purpose than conventional house pets. The purpose of an ESA is to offer healing benefits to individuals with psychological, mental or emotional disabilities. Emotional support animals are not restricted to just dogs and all domesticated animals qualify for an emotional support animal.
The purpose of an emotional support animal is to offer therapeutic benefits to individuals even when they are traveling. The British are familiar of viewing dogs in harnesses or other types of assistance dogs that wear bright colored capes with the Assistance Dogs of the UK logo. People who wish to carry their emotional support animals or dogs are suggested to consider pet friend hotels and rent a car services to help you keep your emotional assistance dog with you. In the future, our hope is that therapy animals are recognized in the UK and are able to support their owners during times of need no matter where they are or what the situation is. As more research unfolds, I wouldn’t doubt the UK starts to identify these types of pets in a legal manner.
Author Bio: Brad Smith is an avid content writer who enjoys telling stories about animals and their effects on human mental & behavioural health.