Service animals are highly trained and perform specific tasks for their owners to support them with their disability, they can also be brought into any public place.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines service animals as “dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.”According to them, service animals are working animals not pets and the work the dog provides must be directly related to the person’s disability.
Therefore under the ADA, an emotional support animal (ESA) whose sole function is to provide comfort does not qualify as service animal and their owners are not granted the same rights as service animals.
To be legally certified as an ESA, animals must be registered with an Emotional Support Animal organization. Owners will also need a letter from a doctors certifying that the animal is a legally registered support animal required for emotional needs.
And whereas dogs are the most common service animals in the U.S. and the rest of the world, they are not the only animals that can be trained to provide service to humans.
Here are 15 animals other than dogs that can be trained as service animals or to fulfil emotional needs.
1. Miniature Horses
The Service Animal designation can only belong to dogs and miniature horses, and ADA allows miniature horses to serve as service animals. They are known for being very competent mobility assistance animals and their gentle, intuitive and very alert nature make them very aware of potentially dangerous situations.
To use miniature horses as service animals they must be trained to meet the person’s disability needs. They are also more cost-effective than guide dogs as their life span is around 30-40 years.
While they are not service animals under the ADA, they are friendly, quiet ,very playful and highly sociable animals that enjoy a strong bond with their owners. Easy to carry around, they can provide emotional comfort and companionship to people suffering depression and anxiety
3. Capuchin Monkeys
These monkeys have been trained to help those with mobility impairments perform daily tasks such as assisting them with fetching items or opening doors. They also act as companions for their handlers.
4. Bearded Dragon
Bearded Dragons have a very relaxed demeanour and are mostly utilized by people who have an affinity to reptiles and suffer from conditions such as anxiety or depression.
5. Boa Constrictors
This non-venomous, heavy-bodied reptile is usually kept and bred in captivity and can tolerate handling well with the right training. They could make great service animals for people who are allergic to pet dander.
Cats can be trained to help individuals with ASDs by providing reassurance and tranquillity. During World War I, cats were used for companionship but were also trained to hunt rats in the trenches.
Canaries can detect poisonous gas. During World War I their singing did raise the morale and provided comfort to many soldiers but were also used for gas detection.
These beautiful animals can carry heavy loads and survive up to 15 days without water so they offer great transport service in hot climates. They are known for helping soldiers carry wounded men to safety during war times.
Ducks can be trained to become certified as emotional support animals for people with mental or emotional disabilities.
Iguanas don’t need any training in order to provide a person with support and are suitable for those who prefer low maintenance pets. They can live in a terrarium and only need to be fed once a day.
Pigeons were used during war times as messengers and their service was especially important when technology failed or other forms of communication were cut off.
Carrier pigeons were considered vital during World War I and anyone who molested a pigeon could be imprisoned or fined. During the Second World War it was a pigeon named Gustav the one who carried back the first news from the D-Day landings in Normandy.
Parrots are highly trainable and intelligent and they can perform certain actions that could prevent those prone to self-harming behaviours.
These birds can also help people suffering anxiety with their soothing and calming presence and their ability to show empathy. Cockatoos, Macaws and African Grey Parrots are known for their incredible ability to mimic human speech so parrots are great pets for companionship too.
13. Potbelly Pigs
These intelligent companions can be trained to open and close doors or use a litter box, they can weigh up to 300pounds and are preferred service animals for individuals who are allergic to dogs.
Hawks are used in many airports to help with the uncontrolled presence of birds in the airport environment and near the tracks as they can pose a threat to aviation security particularly when the aircraft takes off and lands.
In Spain, most airports have a falconry service that uses trained birds of prey as a dissuasive measure against the flight of other types of bird within the confines of the airport.
The hawks fly high so they see and scatter all the birds in the area. Eagles are also used to keep the population of rabbits and hares under control, as they can appear on the tracks at night .
With their calm demeanour, fluffy bunnies can be prescribed as emotional support animals by a mental health professional. They offer comfort and companionship and because of their size they should get granted the necessary permissions to fly with you.
They have the ability to train and learn really well several tasks like pee in their litter box, sit, or lie down.
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