Emotional Support Animals (ESA) are pets that have been prescribed by a licensed psychotherapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist. These animals play an important role in the lives of their owners. They provide emotional support that assists them through the trying times in life.
If you own an ESA, then you understand how critical they are to your mental and emotional well-being. Even though these animals provide an essential role in your life, there are some social situations where it may seem awkward to bring your ESA along with you.
Are you on your way out to your favorite restaurant? Dining out is one of life social pleasures that everyone enjoys. The bustle of a busy restaurant and the smell of freshly prepared food in the air excites the senses and tantalizes the taste buds.
This is a prime example of a situation where ESA owners don’t know if it’s socially acceptable to bring their furry friend along with them. Here is everything you need to know about taking your emotional support animal out with you for a meal.
Can I Take My ESA into a Restaurant?
The answer exists in a grey area. Some restaurant owners do allow ESAs, and some do not. The reason for the partial acceptance of ESAs at restaurants lies in the difference between an ESA and a service dog.
Service dogs undergo intensive training that teaches them correct social behavior. Disabled people cannot go anywhere without their service dog, and therefore the rules around them are lax when compared to emotional support animals.
Emotional support animals do not help their owners with completing physical tasks. Instead, they provide comfort and emotional support to their owners should they experience an uncomfortable scene where they may encounter distress and anxiety.
This critical difference between ESAs and service dogs is what sets them apart in social settings such as restaurants. ESAs are not viewed by the general public as a necessity, where service dogs are. Some restaurant owners will permit ESAs and others will not.
Before you leave the house, call the restaurant you are visiting and ask them if they allow ESAs on their premises. ESAs are not limited to dogs; they can be any animal from a hamster to a snake. Therefore; if you have an exotic pet for your ESA, be sure to let the restaurant owner know. If your ESA is a rat, then you can understand how restaurant owners may forbid you from bringing it to the restaurant, no matter how clean it is.
Why You Need Official Documentation
Official documentation will make it easier for you to explain your ESA to a restaurant owner or member of the public that objects to your animal. Speak to a licensed practitioner that will arrange an ESA Letter for you. This letter will act as your official public document and will make it easier for you to take you ESA out to a grocery store, hotel, or hospital.
Remember to be considerate of those around you. Try to accommodate other guests at the restaurant as much as you can. Sit outdoors whenever possible and keep your pet on a leash or in a travel hide. Otherwise, make sure that your pet is trained and comfortable in social settings and you shouldn’t have a problem.