Welcome to the proposal for the policy of a Mental Health Support Animal. This site is to help promote the framework for a law to recognize animals (typically leashed dogs) in a role of support for people suffering Mental Health issues in which the animal to be in their presence is likely to benefit. This is typically in regards to people whom suffer from social related problems such as Agoraphobia, General Social Anxiety Disorder, and severe depression that may worsen when exposed to large groups of people.
One might suggest that this already applies to psychiatric support animals, or to emotional support animals. However, this will be untrue. One will be able to read the comparisons with relation to this new category. This proposal framework will give such animals full public rights access, and in addition addresses the problems that plague the current system where people will fraudulently use tools to imply that their pets are in fact support or service animals. In other instances, mentally healthy tenants will game the system to get the credentials of their pet for a Emotional Support Animal so a landlord can not legally evict them because of the pet, nor charge extra for the pet.
The goal of this framework proposal is to affect state level laws, but obviously with true bipartisan support, and the proper lobbying, this system can be made federal as well. A number of components will be required, and qualified. This will include the animal which must have a certain level of behavior in relation to the public. It must also meet a minimum age category. Next is the patient which must suffer from mental health problems that adversely affects their social interaction. This requirement then justifies the need of an support animal to be with the patient in public. Third will be a mental health professional which will be required to be licensed in teh state where the law is in place, and will be required to meet a minimum number of hours of face to face therapy. Telephone therapy will not qualify. Fourth will require a registration system. While some may say this will violate privacy, the system will be develop to trust the competency of the mental health professional to not act in an unethical manner when applying the patient. The diagnosis, pharmaceutical therapies, and interactions will still remain confidential between the patient and health professional. The database is as much of a violation as having a photo ID card.
Especially early when the law is enacted, the general public must have proper education on the legality, and requisites. Service animals are not required by federal law to be in any registration database (although it helps), and this will not change that. The registration database is required only with regards to the Mental Health Support Animal. and this is a means of eliminating abus. In addition, private people who attempt to game the system, or acquire items to make it seem as if a non-qualified animal is somehow qualified will face criminal penalties ranging from a fine to imprisonment. In any instance where this happens, all such items will be confiscated and no compensation made.
Please take the time to review this site, and read through it. I have no political nor legal experience, so any constructive criticism is welcomed. And while the proposal of this legal framework will in my opinion likely to benefit me, the investment of time and effort to create this framework is to help the thousands of people that suffers from similar problems to where they will benefit as well. It is about making a system that works and do what is right rather than catering to a personal or political ideology.