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Emotional support animals ...

We founded PAAW House because we know first-hand the importance of the human animal bond and the positive impact pets have in our lives. Our four-legged team are much loved and an integral part of our families, none of us could imagine being without them. They provide us with emotional support and companionship daily without even knowing it. Sadly, not everyone has the choice to provide a pet with a home and reap the benefits of their unconditional love and friendship.

An emotional support animal is a pet that helps alleviate symptoms of a mental or emotional disability through companionship and affection.  Even today emotional support animals are still not recognised as certified assistance animals in the UK meaning that the rules that apply to other assistance animals, such as guide dogs, do not apply to emotional support pets. There are currently thousands of pets providing emotional support and companionship in the UK, overdue changes in legislation would open more doors for love and companionship for many humans and animals as well as easing the workload of some of our great charities.

Research supports that companion animals physically and psychologically benefit owners. Pet interaction, whether active or passive, tends to lower anxiety levels and decrease the onset, severity, or progression of stress-related conditions. Findings also show that pets play a significant supportive role of reducing depression to help owners through painful times. Indeed, for everyone but even more so for people living alone, especially the elderly, companion pets can bring comfort, bring meaning, bring a purpose in life and a feeling of connection.

Nowhere is this truer than for those with mental health conditions. For those people the presence of a dog or another pet can be critical to someone’s ability to function on a daily basis. An emotional support animal can give comfort that helps a person deal with challenges that compromise their quality of life.

This cuddle power should not be underestimated as a growing raft of studies show just stroking, sitting next to or playing with a pet can help to relax and calm you whether you have a mental health condition or not. It’s all down to how pets provide us with a sense of companionship and routine and allow us to live in the moment and stop worrying about the future.

You will find more information on how pets can help with mental health on the Mental Health Foundation website.

In the current housing market, landlords often stipulate that no pets are allowed and will reject tenants who have pets. This makes finding a suitable home for those who have animals extremely hard. According to the Dog’s Trust one in three pet owners have difficulty finding a property, with almost half also saying they found lettings agents “unhelpful”. If you find yourself in this situation and need a helpful lettings agent check out our post on Pet Lets At PAAW House we would like your help to make a difference, raise awareness and fight for the recognition of emotional support and companion animals. Please sign our letter to MPs who can address this. Thank you.

By Gabby Kuehn

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