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11/7/2022 “Special Needs Animals and How They Can Provide Emotional Support” By Kaylee McGrath

This week I would like to share some of the many interesting and important facts concerning Special Needs Animals and how they can provide a unique and purpose for those who have various mental health disabilities as well as chronic illnesses.

What Is a Special Needs Animal?

“Special needs animal or pet” is a broad term without a universal meaning. It generally includes a range of physical disabilities, chronic medical conditions, or behavioral issues that require ongoing care or special attention for their owners to manage. It can include animals with obvious physical distinctions, such as missing, deformed, or paralyzed limbs, or those with functional limitations, and animals who are blind or deaf. Those with chronic medical conditions are often considered special needs as well, such as dogs and cats with diabetes, chronic allergies, and cancer. Still others may have social or behavioral limitations, including severe separation anxiety or extreme situational fears. Previously abused animals may fall into this category as well. Behavioral issues are often managed through consistent and positive training, while some animals with physical limitations can adapt surprisingly fast to their circumstances. A three-legged dog will still run and play, while a blind or deaf pet will learn to rely on other senses to navigate his home and interact with human family members.

A Special Needs Dog or Cat Is a Dog or Cat First

• Special needs pets are not defined by their circumstances, and are not aware of how they may be different from other animals of their kind

• They are first and foremost a dog or cat, a message often lost on potential adopters

• Although often requiring some type of dedicated care or training, most special needs pets are otherwise just like any other. For example, a blind animal relies on its other senses, of hearing and smell, and to learn about and navigate around its environment

• A dog or cat who lose key senses with age, such as sight, often show no signs of a disability until his pet parent rearranges the furniture and the animal becomes seemingly lost in his own home

Just Adopt and Add Love

• A serious responsibility of pet parenthood is providing the care companion pets need throughout their entire lives

• They deserve the same loyalty that they give so wholeheartedly to you, and the best thing you can do beyond opening your heart and home to them is providing regular veterinary care

• Regardless of how a dog or cat became a special needs pet either by birth, illness, accident, the aging process or at the hands of an abuser, they have much to teach us about resilience and love without judgment

Special Needs Animals Can Be the Perfect Emotional Support Animal (ESA)

• In many cases a special needs animal/pet can be the perfect choice for an individual that needs emotional support

• To provide a therapeutic benefit (emotional support, comfort, and companionship) to a person with a mental health or psychiatric disability (such as a serious mental health condition)

• Additionally, those who are suffering from a chronic illness

An ESA is not considered a Service Animal, but under U.S. law, an emotional support animal is also not considered a pet and is generally not restricted by the type of animal. Any domesticated animal may be considered as an ESA (e.g., cats, dogs, mice, rabbits, birds, hedgehogs, rats, minipigs, ferrets, etc.) and they can be any age. However, an ESA must be able to be manageable in public and cannot create a nuisance

Source of Information: Various Google Searches

Until Next Week, Stay Safe and Well!

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