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Can You Have More Than One Emotional Support Animal? Facts & FAQs

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Woman holding a white fluffy cat and Jack Russell Terrier dog while sitting on the bed

Emotional support animals (ESA) are companions that help people cope and live healthy lives if they suffer from mental illness. Because they’re so beneficial, they’re being more regularly prescribed by physicians and healthcare professionals, and if needed, a person can have more than one emotional support animal.

They’re a popular solution therapists use to help with various illnesses and disorders, such as anxiety and depression. Yes, it’s possible to have more than one emotional support animal depending on your specific needs and the recommendations of a qualified mental health professional. A letter that denotes your need for an ESA, such as an ESA letter, can be helpful for owners of more than one emotional support animal, as some people may question it.

But, if you need them, you’re well within your right to have more than one. No laws govern the number of emotional support animals allowed, and as long as they don’t break any laws, you shouldn’t have a problem.

However, the number and type, as well as your circumstances, must make sense. For example, a small apartment block might not be suitable for two emotional support horses.

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The Benefits of an ESA

There have been many research studies and even more anecdotal evidence that animals are good for us. Simply stroking a pet lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, for example. The same is true for illnesses of the mind; PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), depression, and other mood disorders can benefit significantly from the comfort and calm of an emotional support animal, and they can help other community members.

Seniors that live alone can benefit immensely from emotional support animals as they provide comfort and companionship during a person’s twilight years. The benefits of ESAs are scientifically proven; when people hug and interact with pets, the body releases oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine, which are the three hormones that are often askew or even depleted in people suffering from mental health conditions. These are all feel-good hormones, so it’s no wonder that we love spending time around our pets.

Senior man with dogs and cat on his lap on bench
Image Credit: Budimir Jevtic, Shutterstock

Why Might a Person Need More Than One ESA?

Because brains are complex, there’s never truly a one-size-fits-all solution for managing mental health conditions. Conditions manifest in different ways or cause various symptoms for people; emotional support animals may help to soothe multiple facets of a disease, but they might not be able to help with them all. Common reasons why someone may need additional emotional support animals include:

  • Additional companionship and bonds with multiple emotional support animals, as this often promotes good recovery
  • The changing needs of a person with a mental condition might mean that an ESA with different talents is needed to meet their needs sufficiently

Is It Bad to Have More Than One ESA?

Having more than one emotional support animal is not wrong or bad.

Deciding on your position and recognizing your additional needs shows strength, and it sets you up for better success in treatment, so don’t feel that getting any additional support you need is unnecessary. It takes courage to recognize and ask for more help.

How Can You Get More Than One Emotional Support Animal?

The first step in adopting a new emotional support animal is agreeing with your therapist that it’s the best decision for you. Once you’ve decided that you’d like an additional support animal, you could begin by examining the logistics of having an extra animal. There are some critical questions you should ask, which include:

  • Can I look after all my animals physically, mentally, and financially?
  • Can I meet the needs of an additional emotional support animal without compromising the needs of my first emotional support animal or my own needs?

Will My Housing Situation Allow Me an Extra ESA?

Housing situations can be tricky with additional ESAs, but most landlords allow multiple support animals. Landlords cannot refuse to allow support animals but can object in exceptional circumstances even when the no pets clause is stipulated. However, ESAs do not have the same protections as service animals, so documentation is essential to ensure your need for one.

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Final thoughts

People suffering from mental health conditions can get more than one emotional support animal. This is because needs change, and the animal they already have is no longer suitable for therapy. There must be a justifiable reason for this, however, and a therapist will usually agree to a plan with you before you get your new ESA if it’s something you need.

Documentation is important, and if your new BSA is registered, they are offered some protection against the no-pets rule. However, this is not the same level of protection as service dogs get. At the end of the day, once you’ve considered everything needed for a US ESA (including time, money, and space), it is up to you to decide if a new emotional support animal will suit your situation. Again, this is a discussion your therapist should be able to help you with.

Featured Image Credit: Reshetnikov_art, Shutterstock

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