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Emotional support animals: has America's 'epidemic' gone too far?

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Emotional support animals, or ESAs, have exploded across the US in recent years, with rising numbers of pet owners getting their animals certified online. Unlike in the UK, ESAs have legal status in the US on a tier below traditional service animals, but the backlash has begun - with critics complaining the system is being abused by regular pet owners who want to take their animals into unsuitable public spaces. The Guardian's Richard Sprenger - animal lover but pet sceptic - meets ESA owners and their animals across North America.





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💬 Comments on the video
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What about, we as a society provide the emotional support, at least to keep exotic animals out in the wild?

Author — Parfait Kabore

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I can understand having a domestic animal as an emotional support animal, what I think is wrong is having a wild animal at home. You may feel sad and depressed and wanting to overcome it but not at the expense of an inocent animal.

Author — Dani_1296

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This like many programs are being abused and it diverts from the real medical needs .

Author — HappyHappy JoyJoy

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Ridiculous that man should be in jail for hurting someone

Author — noemi barrios

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My wife tried to classify me as an emotional support animal....to get lower airline fees. It almost worked, but I couldn't fit under the seat in front of her.

Author — Bajasurfer

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I'm so sick of these people talking about emotional support animals. I see people going into the store because they don't want to leave their animals outside.

Author — Linda Rochon

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ESA can be very beneficial and can be exotic or more traditional animals. My sand boa is a great ESA, however that does NOT mean she has the same rights as my actual service dog. They both have different jobs, and by law, an ESA is not required to know specific tasks or skills to aid their handler, they are also NOT permitted in public and can be asked to leave and are not permitted on buses, ubers or other public transportation. Whereas a service dog has to be allowed access to wherever the handler is allowed. They are trained in specific tasks to help make life and being in public easier.

Example: my snake can help calm me down and be therapeutic to help with anxiety and depression when at home BUT my service dog can actually stop or aid in a big panic attack when out in public or at home and can actually go get help or help me in turn. Thats the difference, and most pet owners just want to being their animals in public and say “oh its an ESA” hell after meeting my dog, someone said “Im gonna make my dog a service dog so he can just come with me everywhere.” Ok you do that... and make my life harder who actually has a real service dog.

Author — Blue Hunter

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*I'm counting down the days, for the Day the Guardian make a video on the guy with the alligator, when the gator eats him.*

Author — jason4275

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I absolutely dont defend all of this. But I will say this. I was raised on a farm. And had many health problems. They weren't attended to, so i was a sick kid. My parents hated each other and later divorced. I had a lot of farm work, i started doing farm work at age 5. I knew growing up that the animals needed me and i had the pleasure of bonding with some very odd animals. I had emus i adored. I particularly loved the donkeys. And to this day i love chickens. I had amazing bonds with these animals. My animals my childhood okay.

Author — Izzysmom Tattoos

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I am an animal lover. I also suffer from depression. I can tell you without a doubt; that the worst times of my life is when I didn't have a rescued pet as company. I happen to know, that having an animal expands your life twofold!!

Author — moon glow

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It doesn’t make much sense to have an ESA that could very easily hurt or kill you and/or someone else. Dogs, goats cats, rodents and other more traditional pets are perfectly reasonable and there isn’t a problem with it - just let people have pets/friends it’s not a big deal. An Alligator is an obvious issue

Author — 3Point Beats

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I'm glad that someone who intentionally paralyzed a man gets to have an Emotional Support Animal.

Author — Mark Burch

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So instead of going to jail for paralyzing a man he gets an alligator and more TV air time? What a joke, I hope that gator eats his face.

Author — Adam Smith

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I thought I was a little eccentric, but the goat 🐐 guy — ohhh boy

Author — Noah Aubrey Linus Sorensen

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Okokokokokokokokokok why is that first man not in prison?

Author — vlogo

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I love how this reporter said "controversy"

Author — T X

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This is being abused, the guy with the gator ?? 🤔 seems like his new way to get attention !! No doctor should legally say does your animal make you feel better, then yeah ESA ?? Exotics should not be part of the ESA, there are types of animal that need to put into the ESA group, and keep it to those animals. And believe me I love animals, we have dogs, horses, cats, rabbits. Certain animals help by reading you and reflecting emotions, they can work with you to restore your confidence . Not being funny but no gator, or peacock, hamster is going to help you get over your depression. But may help you feel good in other ways, I suffer from depression, my daughter too along with crippling anxiety, her horse has helped immensely but no way. Your taking a big ass horse out to the shops or sitting on a plane with you!! There needs to be limits . I think an elephant would be great they are so on another level, but iam not stupid enough to think it's ok, this will also see a boom in trading of exotics. Can't help think that man is rewarding himself somehow, guilt probably but, not so sure !!

Author — Shanara Blue

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I wonder how many of his hunting dogs lived happy, long lives.

Author — Madronaxyz

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wait for it...

wait for it...



ONLY IN AMERICA

Author — Noah Aubrey Linus Sorensen

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Soooo...how is a guy who breaks a man’s neck in a clear case of assault, still on the streets?

Author — SunTai