Companion Animals: FSA Eligibility
What are companion animals?
Animals have long been used to assist individuals who have physical disabilities, such as persons who are blind or deaf, but in recent decades the medical community has embraced companion animals for their profound effects on individuals who experience mental or emotional disabilities. Species that are suitable to serve as companion animals include dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, ferrets, guinea pigs, birds and possibly other small mammals, reptiles and fish in some cases (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).
Companion animals serve a variety of roles depending on the individual's medical condition, and any cost that is a they fall into two major categories:
- Emotional Support Animals: Unlike service dogs that are assigned to accomplish certain tasks for their owners, the purpose of emotional support animals is to give individuals with mental and emotional conditions the love and stability they need to help manage their conditions. Emotional support animals can assist with conditions like fear/phobias, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder/mood disorder and various other psychological and emotional disorders (American Kennel Club).
- Therapy Animals: These animals are fully obedience trained and have been chosen based on their ease of interaction with humans. Therapy animals are primarily tasked with providing comfort and affection to patients in hospitals, retirement homes, schools and other locales. Additionally, these animals also provide animal-assisted therapy, which is conducted in physical/mental rehabilitation facilities to assist individuals in gaining motion in their limbs, improving motor control and helping them achieve other mobility goals during their rehab (American Kennel Club).