Support Animals

Last updated: August 2022

Just as a blind person has a service dog, lung cancer patients can have support dogs or other support animals. Yes, you can, really! An emotional support animal can have a wonderful effect on a lung cancer patient. There are many health benefits as well as emotional.

Benefits of support animals

Caring for the dog, walking the dog, playing with the dog - all of these give you an opportunity to get up and get moving without even realizing you are doing it. Let us be real - not everyone exercises and maybe a couch potato (raising my hand over here). Just think of the day, if you already have a dog, and how often you get up to care for it, etc. It is amazing how much a support dog can help. He/she is your friend when you need someone to talk to. A great snuggler, too. Any dog can be an emotional support animal.

What is an emotional support animal?

An emotional support animal (ESA) is a "companion animal" animal that a medical professional has determined provides benefit for an individual with a disability. This may include improving at least one symptom of the disability. Emotional support animals, typically dogs, but sometimes cats or other animals may be used by people with a range of physical, psychiatric, or intellectual disabilities.1,2

In order to classify an animal as an emotional support animal the person seeking must have a verifiable disability. To be afforded protection under United States Federal Law, a person must meet the federal definition of disability and must have a note from a physician or other medical professional stating that the person has that disability and that the emotional support animal provides a benefit for the individual with the disability. An animal does not need specific training to become an emotional support animal.1,2

Is an emotional support animal right for you?

And let's not forget - if you live somewhere that doesn't allow pets, by having your emotional support dog documentation, they must let you have the animal, airlines must allow you to fly with your dog, restaurants must allow your dog in.

Americans who suffer from emotional or mental disability can qualify for an Emotional Support Animal (ESA). To get the qualification, the individual involved must have an emotional or mental disability that is certified by a mental health professional such as a psychiatrist, or any other mental health expert. In some locations, landlords and property managers do accept confirmation filled out by a certified family doctor. However, the best approach is to locate an appropriate mental health expert who can write such a letter.

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Editor’s Note: We are extremely saddened to say that on January 28, 2020, Jennifer Toth passed away. Jennifer was a passionate advocate for the Lung Cancer community. She will be deeply missed.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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