The Emotional Support Animal Racket

Source: Astral Codex Ten
by Scott Alexander

“Sometimes places ban or restrict animals. For example, an apartment building might not allow dogs. Or an airline might charge you money to transport your cat. But the law requires them to allow service animals, for example guide dogs for the blind. A newer law also requires some of these places to allow emotional support animals, ie animals that help people with mental health problems like depression or anxiety. … Clinically and scientifically, this is great. Many studies show that pets help people with mental health problems. Depressed people really do benefit from a dog who loves them. Anxious people really do feel calmer when they hold a cute kitten. Legally, it’s a racket. In order to benefit from these rules, you need for a psychiatrist to write you an ’emotional support animal letter,’ saying that your pet is actually an emotional support animal.” (05/08/24)