There is much to say about the companionship of having a pet to help the person we are caring for. The pros and cons are numerous and yet many times we find that one outweighs the other. If we are caring for someone with a pet, this means we may find ourselves caring for the pet also (more often than not). At the same time there are few of us who would argue about the care if the animal adds to the quality of life for this person.
Is this a service pet, probably not in the legal sense of the word? Rarely are our pets certified service animals, however, we would be hard pressed to not have them with us. The relationship between the person and a pet at this stage of life is frequently as close to the animal being a family member as one can get. And frequently this pet will help (truly make a significant difference) in this person’s daily life. However, this is not a certified service pet.
When we look around, it is clear that more Americans are enhanced by a personal relationship with their pet. These animals frequently make the difference in whether a person gets out of bed in the morning or not. They give the person something to live for and an answer to the loneliness so many elderly have today.
Without significant changes in our laws these pets are not allowed (legally) in places where food is served or can be purchased, they are not allowed in public frequented establishments and so many more. However, the businesses do not want to be the one enforcing the laws, it is bad for business. And of course, the ones we hear about on the news are most often a situation where a person with a ligament certified service animal is ask to leave their pet at the door. (This is illegal and yes bad for business.)
Most elderly are not able to work through the certification of assistance animal for their pets. Many a mental health professional will write a letter encouraging an apartment house owner or gym and so forth to look upon this pet as a service animal. The definition of an emotionally supportive service animal is certainly confusing, at the very least. Do we need more laws, probably not, what we do need is to allow the professionals do their jobs. There isn’t a person I can think of who would want a person with mental health issues to cause harm to themselves due to the inability to be accompanied by their service pet.
People worry so much about the money being spent on those who cannot afford anything but community support.