Emotional Support Animals

with Dan Maigler, LCSW

In this episode, I’m chatting with my guest Daniel Maigler, about the transformative roles of emotional support animals. Dan’s insights as a social worker and mental health advisor for Paws for Patrick reveal how emotional support animals can aid those facing mental health challenges.

Dan shares the poignant story behind Paws for Patrick, emphasizing the support ESAs can offer, especially to young people. Throughout this episode, he differentiates between therapy dogs, service animals, and emotional support animals, clarifying common misconceptions.

From legalities to the non-requirement of training for ESAs, we’re tackling the myths and discussing the urgency for more emotional support options in schools. For any listener interested in the healing potential of animals and understanding the process for obtaining an ESA, this episode provides clarity and heartfelt testimony.

3 key takeaways:
    1. Emotional support animals (ESAs) do not require any specific training and can significantly benefit individuals with mental health struggles by providing comfort and reducing anxiety, depression, and other symptoms. ESAs can be any type of animal, and their presence can facilitate social interactions and reduce stigma around mental health.
    2. The process of getting an ESA involves obtaining a letter from a licensed mental health professional, medical doctor, or other part of the individual’s health team. This letter must state that the individual has a mental health disability that could benefit from an ESA. Housing providers under FHA rules must accommodate ESAs without charging pet fees, and colleges and universities often do the same.
    3. There’s a distinction between Emotional Support Animals, Therapy Animals, and Service Animals, each with different roles and levels of training. ESAs require no training and offer comfort, whereas Therapy Animals (for example, dogs) receive moderate training and typically work in facilities like hospitals and schools, and Service Animals receive extensive training to perform specific tasks for people with disabilities.

You’ll Learn

  • Understanding Emotional Support Animals (ESAs): You’ll learn what an ESA is, how it differs from other types of support animals like service animals or therapy animals, and the types of animals that can be considered for emotional support.

  • The Benefits of ESAs: You’ll discover how ESAs can help improve mental health, reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, and even strengthen social connections and reduce stigma.

  • How to Legally Qualify for an ESA: You’ll find out the process for legally qualifying for an ESA, including who can write an ESA letter, what the letter must include, and the protections it offers for housing and college dorms.

  • Acquiring and Training ESAs: You’ll learn about the resources available to help you acquire an ESA, with insights into costs, training, and organizations that offer support, such as Paws for Patrick, which can also provide financial assistance for obtaining and training ESAs.

  • Addressing Common Misconceptions: You’ll get clarification on common misconceptions surrounding ESAs, including the legitimacy of organizations that connect individuals with clinicians for ESA letters and the unnecessary barriers people often believe are required.


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Today’s Guest

Dan Maigler, LCSW

Dan Maigler is a school social worker, therapist in private practice, host of the mental health podcast: Not Allowed to Die, and the mental health advisor for Paws for Patrick, a non-profit created to honor the memory of Patrick Roemer by providing support to young people with mental illness through the use of Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) and Therapy Animals. Dan had the privilege of working with Patrick as his school social worker and since his death by suicide has found healing and purpose by helping families and therapists learn more about ESAs.


Dan Maigler LCSW [00:00:03]: So the more we stop thinking about people with mental health issues in one category and healthy people in another category and instead say we are all these people, and we all benefit from the animal. And and dogs are just a great way for your average person to open up and to feel, like, comfortable talking about the ways that those animals make them feel better and the way that our mental health differences can actually be strengths.

Penny Williams [00:00:30]: Welcome to the Beautifully Complex podcast, where I share insights and strategies on parenting neurodivergent kids straight from the trenches. I'm your host, Penny Williams. I'm a parenting coach, author, and mindset mama, honored to guide you on the journey of raising your atypical kid. Let's get started. Welcome back, everyone. I have with me Daniel Maigler, and he is the mental health advisor for Paws for Patrick. And we are gonna talk all about emotional support animals. What does it mean to have an emotional support animal? Who would benefit from us an emotional support animal? How do you go about getting 1? All of these questions that I think so many people have, we are gonna try to answer for you here in this episode.

Penny Williams [00:01:24]: I wanna start by having you introduce yourself. Who are you, and what do you do?

Dan Maigler LCSW [00:01:29]: K. Well, I'm Dan Megler, and I'm a high school social worker and a therapist in private practice. I have a podcast called Not Allowed to Die, which is a mental health podcast where I talk about how treatment works or sometimes doesn't work. And as you said, I'm the mental health adviser for Paws for Patrick where I help educate people, regular families and therapists, about emotional support animals and how they work in supporting particularly young people to view their best selves. So, that's a big part of what I do.

Penny Williams [00:01:58]: Yeah. You wanna start with just telling us a little bit about Paws for Patrick, what that organization is and does and maybe how it came about, and then I think we'll dive into talking specifics about emotional support animals.

Dan Maigler LCSW [00:02:12]: Yeah. So in my role as a school social worker, I got to work with Patrick Romer, and I worked with him from his freshman through his senior year. And Patrick had a lot of challenges with depression, anxiety. And when Patrick was struggling, he wasn't the kind of kid who liked to share his feelings in the therapeutic setting. There might be days when he would be so overwhelmed and stressed out that he would come down to my office, and he would just say, I just wanna go home and be with Cece. And so we would find a way for him because when Cece when he could be with Cece, his dog, he could pet her and hug her, and he could normalize his heart rate, and he could feel more relaxed.

Dan Maigler LCSW [00:02:44]: So, unfortunately, during the pandemic, you know, I didn't get to have contact. He was a senior it was his senior year. Mhmm. And Patrick was actually having a good experience with his family. They organized the Pedalympics. They were bonding. But he had a really bad day in May of 2020, and, he died by suicide that day.

Dan Maigler LCSW [00:03:01]: And, again, for his family, for me, we were all everyone who loved him was just so incredibly devastated. And a GoFundMe was created to try to help support the family. And the family said, we don't really need this money for ourselves. We wanna do something that will honor Patrick's legacy. We know what we want it to be about, mental health and animals. And so the idea just came together to say, how can we get people that kind of support and nurturing that Patrick got from Cece to as many other families as possible.

Penny Williams [00:03:27]: Yeah. Wow. And I think it's such a story that so many people can relate to these days because our teens and young adults are really going through it. Mhmm. It feels like more than ever. Mhmm. And that may or may not be completely accurate, but it just feels like they need more support and more discussion about feelings. I think that, you know, many generations were raised not to talk about your feelings, and some feelings are bad.

Penny Williams [00:03:54]: And I think we're learning through our young people how important that is and how much we need to support them in those areas.

Dan Maigler LCSW [00:04:05]: Well, the research would back up what you're saying, that it has actually never been harder to be a teenager, and anxiety and depression have never been higher among these kids.

Penny Williams [00:04:13]: Yeah.

Dan Maigler LCSW [00:04:13]: And, again, although, like, people say why, and I think we all intuitively feel that it has something to do with comparison, social media, and those kinds of things. Mhmm. And so that's what we're finding. People are particularly young people, between the ages of 13 25, our developmental goal is to find our identity. And that identity is tougher to find when you're constantly feeling like you're being compared and you never get to take a step off of that treadmill of comparison, and you never really feel like you're measuring up. And as adults, we do that. We look at who's having the best vacation, who's, you know, who's giving them the nicest house. But for teenagers, it's extra exhausting.

Dan Maigler LCSW [00:04:48]: And, again, when I when I was growing up, there was only one phone in the house. We had to share it among the siblings and whatnot. So and you were actually able to go to bed and not worry about what was happening everywhere. So for so many kids, in particular, our kids with ADHD or kids who are they're just wanting connection

Penny Williams [00:05:02]: Yeah. I can't imagine Mhmm. What our kids are are going through now

Penny Williams [00:05:08]: As far as, like, always having to worry about what people are saying about you publicly. Mhmm. Right? It it's tough. I have 2 young adults, and they are constantly trying to navigate difficult social situations online

Penny Williams [00:05:28]: And worrying about how that might impact their future. Right? If they're on a conversation that's been recorded and somebody says something, then they need to worry about that and future employers finding it in. It's just such a different world. And I think unless we really take time to discuss it and think deeply about it like we are here, we don't recognize it, but we really need to.

Dan Maigler LCSW [00:05:54]: Well, and that's why animals are so much more even incredibly powerful now because you can talk to them, and they are just they're not going to pick up their phone while you're talking.

Penny Williams [00:06:03]: Right. Right. They're not going to take a video.

Dan Maigler LCSW [00:06:05]: No. They're going to give you their full and undivided attention, And we know the research says that just staring in the eyes of a dog can increase the production of oxytocin, which is that connection hormone Mhmm. Which helps people to feel bonded. Some of the research by doctor Janet Oiglerlach of University of Toledo found that cats are actually better than dogs in helping to reduce symptoms of depression. So I found that really fascinating because I'm more of a dog person. Mhmm. And, you know, there's a lot of misconceptions about emotional support animals. People think of dogs when they think of emotional support animals, but an emotional support animal is just any animal that being in contact with it reduces the frequency, intensity, or duration of any mental health symptoms that a person may experience.

Dan Maigler LCSW [00:06:44]: Mhmm. So, again, you can have an emotional support animal. That's a tarantula. That's a lizard. Yeah. That's a fish. It doesn't have to be a dog or a cat or something furry. And people often think that they have to get their animal registered, but the registration of emotional support animals is not for the pet.

Dan Maigler LCSW [00:06:59]: It's for the person. Mhmm. So when I, as a therapist, am writing an emotional support animal letter, what I'm saying is that in my clinical judgment, the person that I'm talking to has a disability that the symptoms may be benefited by contact with an animal. That's all I'm saying as a clinician. So it doesn't have to be proven. It doesn't have to be anything. And that bar for what a disability is is not nearly as high as what we would think of as if you're trying to get funding for Social Security or things like that or workman's comp.

Penny Williams [00:07:28]: Right. Right.

Dan Maigler LCSW [00:07:29]: The the law is written to make sure that almost everyone, particularly if they have anxiety, depression, those kind of things, if they're on the autistic spectrum, they will pretty much automatically qualify for getting an emotional support animal.

Penny Williams [00:07:40]: Wow. In that letter, I can just imagine people wondering, why do I need a letter to have an emotional support animal? That gives you the rights to have that animal in certain environments where maybe it would otherwise be prohibited. Right?

Dan Maigler LCSW [00:07:54]: Right. So the letter is primarily for where you live. So if if you have an emotional support animal letter and if you live in housing that's covered by FHA, so like apartments that have more than like 4 units and that are not necessarily owner occupied, then they have to allow you to have your animal no matter what kind of animal it is, no matter what the breed is, they have to allow you to have it and they can't charge you pet fees. And so this is all can also apply to, you know, colleges and universities, and sometimes they may ask for things like extra forms to be filled out. And very frequently, what they're asking for is in violation of the law. They're not allowed to ask you what your disability is. They're not allowed to but they they sometimes do. And then you have to get sometimes you have to get HUD involved or, I was I was literally just emailing with a college student who she may have to have a title 9 investigation at her college because they're giving her a lot of pushback about getting her cat in her dorm room.

Dan Maigler LCSW [00:08:41]: So sometimes it can be challenging. Yeah. But, again, it really does mostly apply to just your dwelling. So people who talk about, oh, there's all these emotional support animals and they're in the supermarket and they're wherever else. Well, that legally, your emotional support animal doesn't have any right in most states to be in anywhere other than your dwelling.

Penny Williams [00:08:57]: Okay.

Dan Maigler LCSW [00:08:57]: So when you see animals out and about, the only ones that have the legal right to be anywhere are service animals.

Penny Williams [00:09:03]: Gotcha.

Dan Maigler LCSW [00:09:03]: And service animals are those like we think of, like, seeing eye dogs or there are animals that are trained to spot epilepsy or for diabetes and those kind of things. So those are animals that get specific training to remediate and help out with a specific disability. And there are psychiatric service animals, and it takes about 12 to $15,000 to train 1, and they're very, you know, bonded to the person. But those are not pets. Those are working animals. Yeah. Whereas ESAs are more you know, they can be your pet. And in the middle between ESAs and service animals are therapy dogs or they can be therapy horses or facility dogs.

Dan Maigler LCSW [00:09:36]: So if you go to, a hospital or a school and they have a dog that just stays there and helps people out Yeah. Well, they get a certain level of training to make sure that they're nonreactive Mhmm. That they're gonna be able to be pet by random strangers and and also not be too interested in going and getting food from the garbage, things like that.

Penny Williams [00:09:52]: Right. Right.

Dan Maigler LCSW [00:09:53]: So the training to become like a therapy dog, it takes several months, and it's, you know, about 1250, you know, depending on where you are, dollars. And people are curious about, could my dog become a therapy dog and go and visit other people and help them out? They should go to Alliance for Therapy Dogs, which is great place to find more information about getting their animal trained or if their animal will be a good fit. So many animals just don't have the temperament. They're a little too hyper or they're but so, again, it's a great service. And and a pause for Patrick, we do have a team of therapy dog handlers, but that group is only in the Chicago area, just, north of Chicago where we do our visits.

Penny Williams [00:10:26]: Yeah.

Dan Maigler LCSW [00:10:26]: So the our ESA work is national. So anyone around the country, if they have a young person in their life or if they're parenting young people. So if a person is 57, but they are dealing with depression or anxiety themselves and they could benefit from a racial support animal, they can go to Pastor Patrick's website, and we can help provide them, up to $500 to acquire an animal and up to $500 for training of that animal.

Penny Williams [00:10:48]: Wow.

Dan Maigler LCSW [00:10:48]: So and it's just some basic skills training. And our goal is just to help as many people as we possibly can.

Penny Williams [00:10:54]: It's amazing. It's amazing. We're we're dog people, and I see such a difference in all of us when we just take a minute and sit with the dog and be present with the dog. And we just got a new dog not even a month ago, and we're finding already that he senses when he thinks that someone is upset or our other dog is upset, and he will come and be with you, which is amazing. You know? And I think they have, a lot of times, those instincts

Penny Williams [00:11:27]: To be really supportive. The other thing I was thinking about as you were talking, one of my kids graduated from college a couple years ago. There were all kinds of emotional support animals in her dorms Mhmm. Which I was really surprised about because I thought, wow. You know, it must be really tough to get that approved. I was really happy to see that it's possible now.

Penny Williams [00:11:45]: You know, there were cats. There was a rabbit. There were all sorts of different animals all over her campus for that, which I was really, really thankful to see, because I think that, you know, we just need to be more open to the things that work for people. What is gonna help someone feel safe in an environment? Like, I imagine that Patrick, when he was at school, and he would say, all I want is to go home and be with my dog. He didn't feel safe at school. He didn't feel settled and secure. And here on this podcast, you know, our our audience, most of the kids that we have have that struggle. They don't feel safe in different environments.

Penny Williams [00:12:25]: And so imagining just having an animal that can help to temper some of that is such a gift.

Dan Maigler LCSW [00:12:35]: Well, and it also helps with that interaction socially. For so many people who have social anxiety disorder Yeah. Or, you know, again, like, making eye contact with people can be really challenging. But when you have the dog, like, I know the names of more of my neighbors' dogs that I know the names of my neighbors. You know? And it just really helps as a lubrication to help that social interaction. It helps not just the person on that floor that has the cat, but the 4 or 5 other people who are gonna get to interact with that cat, you know, at different times. Mhmm. And, again, again, I think we should think about it like the way we think about music.

Dan Maigler LCSW [00:13:05]: We all know that music helps people to feel best to match their mood, but we have to be respectful of others when we're listening to our music. You know, we can't be blasting our music at 3 in the morning.

Dan Maigler LCSW [00:13:15]: And similarly with our animals, we have to make sure our animals are not causing others discomfort. So whether that's taking care of their fur and their dander and their waste, whether it's making sure that they're not loud at different times. So again, another role that I have as clinician when I'm helping people is to say, is this gonna be the right animal for the space and time that you're in right now? Mhmm. So you might want a giant husky, but is it good for both the husky and for you to be in a little dorm room? Maybe a rabbit is a better fit for right now. So pause Patrick. We almost say never say no, but we say we might say not yet. Yeah. Because we really wanna make sure that the pairing is sustainable because it is really uncomfortable for people when that animal has to be rehomed.

Dan Maigler LCSW [00:13:53]: Mhmm. So, you know, and people wonder about, like, what is the ethics? Are all these therapists who people reach out to about emotional support animals? Do they just give a letter to everyone? And the answer is no, but more often than not, our bias is gonna be to say yes, just like we would say yes to a person exercising or a person listening to music. Yeah. Why why wouldn't we say yes if unless there was a good reason not to.

Penny Williams [00:14:21]: I can imagine some people feel like distraction is an issue. I can remember when my son was really young

Penny Williams [00:14:28]: In, like, elementary school, and he would have different, like, tools or things for maybe focusing, like fidgets or, you know, one teacher had given him some games. So if he was, like, working a puzzle or something, he was able to listen better. Right? But what happened was all the other kids wanted to see what he was doing all the time. And it wasn't a problem for the teacher, but it was a problem for him. He didn't want to be a distraction. He didn't want kids to be, like, crowding around and asking him questions. Right? And so he would often resist some of that. But I think also too, I can hear, like, you know, professors in a college or teachers in a high school saying, this is such a distraction.

Penny Williams [00:15:12]: Everybody wants to pet the animal or something like that. So how do you help people navigate those conversations and those challenges?

Dan Maigler LCSW [00:15:21]: Well, again, for most of the people who have an ESA, it's not gonna be in the school. It's not gonna be in the classrooms. You know? And if it's more of that, like, service animal level, it would be saying, like, well, could a wheelchair be distracting? Could a person coming with crutches be distracting? Yeah. It could be distracting. But if that's what that person needs in order to be able to access that environment appropriately, then it it just isn't up Right. For the professor to debate. And that's why, again, that extra training for therapy dogs and service animals is that they're working and they're really trained well to not be distracting to others. If other people are distracted by that, you know, to to say, do we just hey.

Dan Maigler LCSW [00:15:54]: If a person's truly beautiful or handsome, they might be distracting, but we don't ban them from classes. You know?

Penny Williams [00:15:59]: Such a good point. Yeah. And I think too that dies down over time. You know? People get really interested about something new, but, eventually, they're gonna get used to it. And I I would hope that a lot of schools would be open to it because as I said, my son really struggled in that environment. And, oh my gosh, if he had had an animal with him just, you know, an hour a day at school, like, if the school had a dog that was there, you know, it would have made a huge difference. In just helping him to feel safe and having his nervous system be settled. So I hope that we keep moving forward in this direction of having more and more animals being part of therapy, being part of environments where people struggle.

Dan Maigler LCSW [00:16:41]: Well, and if if there are people listening to this and they think a facility dog that's what we call a dog like a therapy dog that stays at the school. And if they think a facility dog would be a good thing for their school, they should reach out to their school board members and say we support this. A lot of people who are unfamiliar with facility dogs have a lot of fears about insurance and what if the dog bites someone or what if there's allergies. And what schools who have facility dogs have found is these problems don't occur. The animals that are trained to be facility dogs are picked because they are nonreactive. They also do. There is there are insurance policies. So god forbid something were to happen, and that gets calculated into the cost of having it.

Dan Maigler LCSW [00:17:17]: And that's an area of future growth for Paws or Patrick. Eventually, we wanna get more into that space of helping schools to have those conversations with their school boards, with their administrators to say, again, if if we can help one family by putting an animal in there, we can help thousands of kids sometimes if we can get that facility dog that's there working. And so that is an area of future growth, and I think I hope more schools

Penny Williams [00:17:36]: will be able to. Definitely. I was just thinking as you're talking, when my son comes to talk to me about stuff that he finds challenging to talk about, he will call the dog up on his lap. And I just now made that connection that every time we have a difficult conversation or something, you know, that he just, struggling with emotionally, He's calling the dogs up to him before he even starts. And I had not really thought about it that deeply until we've had this conversation. So it's just amazing that there are so many options to help with mental health, and we just need to keep having these conversations so more people know about it. I mean, I can imagine a world where every school has a therapy dog. That would be just amazing.

Penny Williams [00:18:25]: You know, sensory rooms and all of these other things that so many students need, and I think more now. You know? My kid was mostly in school pre pandemic, and so it felt like we were just asking for things for kids who are neurodivergent, but now we have so many more kids who are struggling with depression and anxiety. So now there's even a bigger population, I think, in the schools who could benefit from lots of these different things, not just animals.

Dan Maigler LCSW [00:18:57]: When we find that the animals help to produce the stigma because everyone is so open about talking about how animals help improve their mental health. So if I took the most emotionally healthy person on the planet, but then I also paired them with an animal, they would probably be feeling even better. And what it helps us to realize is that like mental health, like self esteem isn't high or low. It's not good or bad. We're all a spectrum of people like a mountain range, and we have our good days and our bad days. And so the more we stop thinking about people with mental health issues in one category and healthy people in another category and instead say we are all these people and we all benefit from the animal. And and dogs are just a great way for your average person to open up and to feel like comfortable talking about the ways that those animals make them feel better. And then that helps us to open into so many other aspects of talking about mental health and the way that our mental health differences Yeah.

Dan Maigler LCSW [00:19:50]: Can actually be strengths. And so that's what we find is reducing the stigma through introducing the animal conversation.

Penny Williams [00:19:56]: So good. Let's talk a little bit about the process because I think a lot of people don't even know where to get started. Obviously, they can go to Paws for Patrick website. We'll link that up in the show notes and, connect with your organization there. But just kind of if we could walk through that process a little bit so people understand what that might look like, I think that would be really helpful.

Dan Maigler LCSW [00:20:20]: Yeah. So let's say a person realizes that they have if they they have a mental health disability or they think they might and they are a young person, they could reach out to Pastor Patrick. But any person, if they're working with a therapist, they could say, hey. I think I might benefit from my animal or getting an animal to be an ESA. So they can talk to their therapist about writing them a letter or even again their psychiatrist, a medical doctor, anybody who's in their health team could write one of these letters. If that person's not sure how to do it, you can refer that person to Paws or Patrick. You can refer them to me, and I will teach people how to write these letters because it's a super easy thing to do once you learn how to do it. The main thing that has to go in the letter is the date, the fact that it has to be on the practitioner's letterhead.

Dan Maigler LCSW [00:21:01]: And as I say, the practitioner has to say that legally they are verifying that this person does have a disability and that it might be benefited. And that's really all that has to go into the letter. So people are sometimes concerned. I don't necessarily wanna share my diagnoses with my landlord or other people, and they don't have to. So and people, I think, should be cautious about who gets their medical information. So, again, if they're working with a medical practitioner, a therapist, anyone like that, they can ask them about it. And then once they get that letter, they can submit that to their landlord or to the, university where they are living. Some places will say that it has to be renewed year after year.

Dan Maigler LCSW [00:21:36]: There's legally no reason for that. I mean, I wish anxiety ran out after a year. I wish ADHD stopped existing after a year. But, you know, we find that it's often easier just to write an updated letter than to fight with people on it. And so when talking to landlords and things like that about this experience, especially there are some people who don't fall under HUD and FHA. As I say, it's if it's an owner occupied too flat, they don't have to allow you to have your ESA. So just explaining to them, this is how the animal helps me Mhmm. To feel my best, and this is what it does for me.

Dan Maigler LCSW [00:22:07]: And then very frequently, they'll be telling stories. If I'm that landlord, I'm nervous that my apartment's gonna smell like cat pee. I don't I wanna make sure that I know that this animal's being taken care of. So the more you're expressing that you're responsible and that you're doing this for a reason, the more open they're probably gonna be to that.

Penny Williams [00:22:22]: And then what about training? I know you said there were different levels of training.

Dan Maigler LCSW [00:22:28]: As I said, training is not necessary.

Penny Williams [00:22:30]: Okay.

Dan Maigler LCSW [00:22:32]: So for emotional support, animals don't require any training whatsoever. Your fish or tarantula doesn't require any of it. For those, as you say, therapy dogs, for the service animals again, for therapy dogs, reach out to Alliance For Therapy Dogs. For service animals, you're gonna wanna probably Google your ZIP code and service animal training to find something that's local to you.

Penny Williams [00:22:51]: Yeah. I just wonder about that process too. Like, I think, you know, we think that it's gonna be so expensive to have any sort of support animal. So it's so good to be letting everybody know here that an emotional support animal needs no specific training. Obviously, I think you need a good connection with the animal. You know? They need to allow you to connect when you need to connect, but other than that, there's nothing specific. And then we move to therapy dog, which you said was a more moderate cost, right, versus a service animal.

Dan Maigler LCSW [00:23:22]: Mhmm. Okay. Mhmm. Yeah. And we shouldn't be really trying to encourage people whom are not animal people. There are some people who just don't like pets. And so if your child doesn't really like animals and they don't enjoy interacting with them, let's not try to put a square peg into a round hole. Let's reinforce the things that are working, but not push for something that is.

Penny Williams [00:23:41]: I'm glad you brought that up. Because there are kids who fear animals. There are kids who just don't connect with them. It's not not their wheelhouse. And for them, it's not going to be beneficial. You can force it on them, but it's not gonna work because they're not into it. So I'm really glad that you brought that up. Anything else we need to talk about before we wrap up? Anything else that you think people need to know about the process or just having that emotional support when it's needed?

Dan Maigler LCSW [00:24:09]: Well, I just think the one other misconception that I'll share is a lot of the people who are there's a lot of angry people online who are very they actually love emotional support animals, but they're nervous that the rights of emotional support animals are gonna get taken away because of what they would deem, like scam websites or things like that. There are organizations like CertiPet or Petable that a person can go, and if you don't have a therapist and you wanna find someone to write an emotional support animal for you, they will pair you with clinician. And there is ethically and legally nothing wrong with Certa Pet or Petable or any of these other organizations. These are clinicians who are actively interviewing a person and making sure that they Okay. Meet the criteria. So again, if you're hearing that, oh, you have to be working with the person for 3 months or you have to he's certified in a different way. That's not true. There are some limitations state by state, so you wanna check-in your state what the laws are.

Dan Maigler LCSW [00:25:02]: But in general, it's up to the clinician's judgment of does this person qualify. And, again, when I was working in emergency room, I had to decide in an hour if a person could go home or if they had to be hospitalized. So I think I can figure out in an hour whether or not a person might benefit from an emotional support animal. So and people say, well, why can't we make them wait a little bit longer? Well, I've worked with a couple of people who are in homeless shelters who won't leave for housing unless they can have their animal with them. This is really important to people. So why would we put extra barriers in the way of people who can truly benefit from this resource?

Penny Williams [00:25:36]: Such good work you're doing, and I appreciate all that you're doing to support emotional support animals, but also your work in mental health and just helping people. It's so great to get to be a helper in the world. I'm sure you feel that way too, and I appreciate each person who's doing that. So I thank you also for providing some of your time here and your wisdom and letting everybody know, really myth busting. Because even I thought emotional support animals had some training. Right? Like, I even came into this conversation and and learned a good bit from you. So I know that it's really gonna be beneficial to so many people. I do wanna let everyone know that you can get links to Paws for Patrick as well as Dan's podcast and also anything that we've mentioned.

Penny Williams [00:26:20]: So things like CertiPet and Pet A Ball, I will link all of that up for you at the show notes, and you can get those at parentingadhdandaustism.com/262 for episode 262. And I certainly encourage everyone to connect and learn more and see if you or your child or your students at your school might benefit from some of the work that Paws for Patrick is doing. And I just thank you again, Dan. It was a pleasure, and I will see everyone next time. Take good care. Thanks for joining me on the Beautifully Complex podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and share, and don't forget to check out my online courses and parent coaching at parentingadhdandautsism.com and at thebehaviorrevolution.com.

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