Can ESAs threaten public safety?

As much as the ESAs bring benefits to the psychologically disabled individual, the too much increase in their unrestricted use is also creating threats for people around them.

ESAs have been in use for quite a long now; even the laws and regulations governed by two main acts, i.e., the fair housing society act and the air carrier access act, were formulated and implemented in the 1980s. However, recent times have witnessed too much increase in the use of ESAs.

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People now more than ever are applying for ESAs. Since the laws have not been renewed since they were first designed. And the use has increased many folds; this has resulted in many issues surrounding the use of ESAs. One of them is how ESAs are becoming increasingly dangerous for the public and posing a direct threat to public safety.

Before we highlight how ESAs have now become a risk to public safety, let us introduce you to the ESAs and how they help with mental health issues.

Emotional support animals (ESAs) are the animals recommended to psychologically disabled individuals once they are found to be in need of one. A psychiatrist, psychologist, or therapist checks the mental health condition of a person and decides if the person should be issued an ESA or not.

If the therapist decides that the person is mentally disturbed to such an extent that the therapist suggests getting an ESA for emotional support, then he or she would write an emotional support animal letter.

This letter is written by the licensed and certified mental health specialist on his or her letterhead, contains the ESA identification number, license number of the therapist, and other relevant details of the ESA recommendation if the ESA letter lacks the necessary information that it is either fake or even if it is issued by a legit company, it is still not considered legally trustworthy.

Once a person gets a letter, then is the next step to buy an ESA. The ESA does not need to be from a  specific breed or species; it can be any pet animal capable of giving emotional support to the owner. It can be a dog, cat, fish, rat, rabbit, horse, or any other animal that can be tamed.

The ESAs have some rights that other pets do not have. Under federal law, the ESAs are allowed to reside with their owners in houses or societies where pets are not otherwise allowed. The only requirement for this is that the owner has a correct emotional support animal letter for housing.

Similarly, the ESAs are also allowed to travel with their owners on an airplane despite the fact that pets are prohibited from entering an airport or an airplane. Therefore, the same letter can be shown to the airport authorities and then you can take your animal with you on the airplane.

The ESAs are quite helpful in getting rid of the severe symptoms of mental health issues. For instance, they can help persons dealing with depression, anxiety, stress, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar, and other similar mental disorders. These animals provide the owners with unconditional love, affection, support, and emotional backing that reduce the severity of symptoms and also bring positivity, fun, brightness, and company to their lives.

Since the ESAs have so many benefits, and many people are now becoming mentally unstable hence most of them seek an ESA recommendation from a mental health expert. Some people even look for online services to get a recommendation letter. As a result, many ESA owners do not even have a legit letter of recommendation for ESAs.

Another issue that has resulted in so much increase in the dependency of the ESAs is that they are now posing a threat to public safety. Although not all ESAs have become a danger to public safety, some of them have, and this is mostly because of the negligence on the part of the owners.

A more common issue faced by people from ESAs is that they shout against them like the dogs use continuous and loud barking whenever they see others.

Some ESAs also growl on the people and lung on them too. This threatens people and especially the kids living in the same societies where ESAs are kept or the planes in which ESAs are traveling.

Moreover, since ESAs do not have any special training, and mostly they are trained for their basic activities by the very owner that they provide the emotional support; hence some of them, due to the carelessness of the owners, are not even correctly trained. This makes them less appropriate for living in societies and moving around in public places.

Studies show that between the years 2016 and 2018, there has been an 85 percent increase in the ESA dogs related incidents that make people threatened.  Incidents include issues like urinating in public places, growling, barking, biting, defecating, and following the public.

Other animals like peacocks, kangaroos, pigs, and cats are also endangering the lives of the public. In some incidents, it has also been reported that ESAs traveling through the airplanes get into the cabins, threaten the crew, passengers and make the flight extremely miserable for everyone.

Although the ESAs are not allowed in stores, parks, and restaurants, as a gesture of goodwill, many stores allow them to provide convenience to the owners. Even in these cases, the incidents of ESAs threatening and disturbing other people around have increased. 

Therefore, it is high time that the regulations for the ESAs are updated to ensure that the ESAs and owners not only get the required privilege, but the public is also not exposed to threats because of them.

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