For some individuals with mental health disabilities, service animals play a critical role in recovery by helping to manage symptoms or triggers of a condition. Mental health service animals include emotional support animals. Although we often think of dogs when we hear about service animals, many different kinds of animals, including cats, can provide essential support to people with disabilities.
There is sometimes a perception that mental health service animals are just well loved pets. But in reality, just like guide dogs for people with visual impairments, service animals make it possible for people with mental health disabilities to participate in society with dignity and respect.
Did You Know?
Regardless of whether they have been trained or certified, service animals (including emotional support animals) are recognized under Ontario’s law as important disability-related supports that must be accommodated.
Resource: For more information, see the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s Policy on Preventing Discrimination Based on Mental Health Disabilities and Addictions (see footnote 218 on page 100 for more detailed information).
Welcome service animals, including emotional support animals.
Resource: For an example of an organizational policy that is inclusive of emotional support animals, see WestJet’s Assistive Animals policy.
Resource: Read our story about how Kate’s cat Saphira became an essential part of her life.