More and more people are turning to Emotional Support Animals (or ESAs) for help with anxiety, depression, or other mood disorders and conditions. If you already have an emotional support animal and are wondering if you can get another, you may ask yourself, “How many emotional support animals can a person have?”
The short answer is that if you and your healthcare provider determine it is necessary, you can have more than one emotional support animal. As long as the animal does not violate local or state laws, no specific regulation states how many ESAs a person can have.
Who Typically Gets an Emotional Support Animal?
Anyone can get an emotional support animal, but some groups of people may benefit from having one more than others. College students living away from home for the first time and feeling homesick or lonely may find that an ESA can provide them with the necessary companionship. Elderly people who are living alone and may be experiencing social isolation can also benefit from the companionship of an ESA.
And, of course, people dealing with mental health issues such as anxiety or depression may find that an emotional support animal helps ease their symptoms.
Benefits of an Emotional Support Animal
Research has shown that interacting with an animal can be beneficial for both physical and mental health. When people interact with animals, their bodies release hormones that have positive effects on the mind and body. These hormones include oxytocin, which has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety levels; dopamine, which helps to improve moods; and serotonin, which helps to regulate sleep and appetite.
In addition to the physical benefits of having an emotional support animal, there are also social benefits. Interacting with an emotional support animal can also help you meet new people and make new friends. People who own ESAs often report feeling more connected to their community and less isolated than those without pets. Whether it is walking your dog as a way to get outside and meet new people or asking friends for tips about care for your cat, pets increase our chances for interaction.
Why Would Someone Need More Than One ESA?
Whatever the reason, there’s no shame in needing more than one emotional support animal. It doesn’t mean that you’re weak or that you’re not doing enough to take care of yourself. It just means that you understand your needs and you’re willing to do what it takes to meet them.
How to Have More Than One ESA
If you think you might benefit from having more than one emotional support animal, the first step is to ask your therapist if you are eligible. While there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, there are a few things to keep in mind.
First, it is important to have a clear and documented need for an emotional support animal. This means that your therapist should be able to provide documentation of your mental health condition and how an emotional support animal would help alleviate symptoms.
Second, keep in mind that having more than one emotional support animal may require some extra planning and preparation on your part.
ESAs and Housing
The main area of regulation for ESAs is in terms of housing, including public and privately-owned housing. While ESAs are not ensured protections or allowed to be in various public spaces in the same way service animals are, they are allowed to live in housing that may specify “no pets.” If properly registered and documented as an ESA, your animal is eligible to live in your place of residence.
ESAs and State Regulations
Most states have laws regulating the maximum number of pets that can be kept in a single household. These laws vary from state to state, so it’s important to check the regulations in your area before bringing home a new pet. In some states, there may be no limit on the number of pets you can have, while other states may limit you to two or three pets.
In many cases, the state regulations on the number of pets allowed in a household supersede the regulation that allows you to have multiple emotional support animals. If you are considering having several emotional support animals, it may be important to check your state’s maximum pet allowance per type of animal (dog, cat, etc.). You can also check the rankings of the most pet-friendly states in America.
It is important to remember that you can have more than one emotional support animal, but it is best to check with your therapist or doctor to see if it is the right decision for you.
There are several factors to consider before deciding to have more than one emotional support animal. These include state regulations for the number of pets allowed, the financial ability to care for multiple animals, and having adequate space for all of them. Ultimately, it is up to the individual and their therapist to decide what situation is best for them and suits their emotional needs.
Featured Image Credit: Seaq68, Pixabay