Service animals and emotional support animals: a distinction that privileges physical disabilities over mental and emotional disabilities

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Abdulkareem, Yusuf
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The use of animals for physical and emotional support has become commonplace over the past few years. Animals are now regularly admitted into spaces that were exclusively reserved for humans. In response, many countries have passed laws to regulate the presence of animals in public spaces: these laws regulate issues such as what species of animals are allowed, what purpose they serve, and in what areas of public life the animals are granted access to. However, these laws have resulted in discrimination against people who use animals for mental and emotional support, rather than for physical assistance. Using available research, media coverage, and legislation in the United States and Canada, this paper argues that handlers of emotional support animals (ESAs) are discriminated against because they are not afforded the same levels of protection as handlers of service animals. The current laws and attitudes towards ESAs indicate a privileging of physical disabilities over emotional and mental disabilities.
Disability, Service animals, Emotional support animals