How to Find Emotional Support Animals for People With Bipolar Disorder

Choose the Type of Animal

1.

Review the needs and interests of the prospective owner. Does he have a preference for a type of animal? Did he have a cat when growing up? Did he always want to have a dog? Dogs and cats are the most popular ESAs, but birds, rabbits, and even horses have served as emotional support animals.

2.

Review the ability and commitment of the prospective owner to care for the animal. Dogs are demanding in terms of attention and time. They require several walks each day, and are more dependent on the owner for daily attention. They cannot be left alone for more than eight hours. Dogs require extensive socialization, and behavior and bathroom training. Cats are more independent. They more easily accept being ignored at times. If necessary, they can go a couple of days alone as long as they have clean litter, water and food. Cats usually come litter trained, but their litter boxes require routine attention and effort.

3.

Consider the prospective owner's tolerance of misbehavior. Even good animals will engage in species-specific behaviors. Cats will be active and noisy at night. They can be destructive if their claws are intact. They are inquisitive to a fault. Dogs bark, chew, dig and bite. Most animals shed and eat things they shouldn't. They go places -- in all senses of the word "go" -- you'd rather they didn't. The prospective owner should formulate realistic expectations about pet ownership that take into account the idiosyncratic and sometimes annoying aspects of pet behavior.

4.

Get information from the library or from online sources about characteristics and needs of different breeds of cats and dogs and species of birds. Also, read more about the responsibilities and benefits of pet ownership. Emotional support animals provide many benefits, but they also place demands on the owner. The owner should understand the challenges of pet ownership before he commits to a relationship that may last 12 to 20 years.

Find and Select the Animal

1.

Refine the choice about the type of animal further, identifying breed and animal characteristics of particular interest. Does the person want a big or a small dog? Does she want a particular breed, coloring, or type of fur on her animal? Does she want an animal that is more social or more independent?

2.

Check out local animal shelters, newspaper advertisements, pet stores and online sources to see the availability and costs of animals in your community. Sometimes, local veterinary clinics will know about animals that are available, either through a public bulletin board they provide in their clinics, or through clients they serve. Also, many supermarkets have public bulletin boards where people will advertise animals they are offering.

3.

Once you are looking at actual potential pets, the particular animal should be vetted. Ask the current owner or seller about the personality of the pet. Is it rambunctious or quiet, hyperactive and nervous or calm and passive? Is it aggressive or mellow? If there are children in the household where the ESA will be going, how does the animal get along with children? Compared to litter mates, is the animal dominant or submissive. Often, the animals that are in the middle of the dominant versus submissive spectrum make the best companion animals. They are neither too needy and nervous, nor overly aggressive in their attempts to show who is boss of the family.

4.

Inquire about return/exchange policies and guarantees in case there are behavior or health problems with the pet.

5.

Take the pet home and embark on a new, hopefully fulfilling relationship. There will be work, trials and challenges, but the rewards and benefits are potentially great.

People with bipolar disorder often feel emotionally isolated and alone. Emotional support animals (ESAs) are pets that provide therapeutic affection, companionship and support to people with mental or physical disabilities. ESAs have documented benefits. They enhance physical and emotional health and extend the lifespan an average of two years. ESAs have legal protections. Landlords cannot prohibit a person from having an ESA, and cannot charge deposits or supplemental fees for ESAs. The living situation, budget, needs, desires and limitations of the prospective owner are central factors to consider when choosing an animal.