• Dr. Rhesa Houston

Owners of emotional support animals find support, conflict


The Gainesville Sun, a local newspaper in Gainesville, Florida recently published an article titled “Owners of emotional support animals find support, conflict”. This article provides examples of individuals using emotional support animals (ESA), their perceived emotional benefits, the ease in which they acquired documentation for housing, and the need for regulations to prevent support animal fraud.


This article further discusses the increase in people obtaining emotional support animal documentation through websites to avoid fees and other restrictions on pets.

Important points in this article:

  • Defines the difference between ESA and Service Dogs (SD)

  • Discusses training regulations requirements for SD versus ESA

  • Points out the general public is unfamiliar with the distinctions between the different types of service animals

  • Discusses the difference in public access between SD and ESA

  • The importance and legitimacy of ESA aiding in assisting people with invisible disabilities

  • Need for education to the public to prevent fraudulent misrepresentation of pets as support animals

  • Provides explanations of the Air Carrier Act and the Fair Housing Act supporting ESAs

  • Policy revisions in the Airline industry for ESA and SD travel

  • Loopholes in regulations for healthcare providers to provide documentation for ESAs

  • Revenue lost in the housing industry due to the increase in ESA and federal regulations for accomodations the the Fair Housing Act

  • Need for additional state and federal legislation for clearly defined standards of the requirements for an ESA

At Assistance Animals Consulting, we are veterinarians, recognized experts uniquely qualified to serve the community by providing resources for education, behavioral understanding, and guidance regarding working animals such as service dogs.


At Assistance Animals Consulting, our veterinarians collaborate with healthcare providers to improve accountability when prescribing an animal-assisted treatment plan. The guidance we provide as veterinary professionals assist in the appropriate use of animals for therapeutic purposes with the goal of maximizing the human animal bond, improving human health outcomes and supporting animal welfare. As veterinarians, we evaluate any animal being considered as a support animal and discuss behavior and training recommendations needed for safe public access. We also discuss veterinary care recommendations and zoonotic disease risk related to the perspective prescribed species. The veterinarians at Assistance Animals Consulting are passionate about education. We educate healthcare providers, handlers, and the general public about responsible and healthy ESA and SD partnerships. Our educational platform also helps to reduce and prevent fraudulent misrepresentation of pets as support animals. Lastly, as veterinarians, we advocate for the health and welfare of all working animals and successful human animal partnerships.


Assistance Animals Consulting, we collaborate, evaluate, educate and advocate for successful human animal interactions. Have you seen a news article you would like Assistance Animals Consulting to discuss on #TheySaidThursday? If yes, leave it in the comment section!


Contact us to learn how we can support you.


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