While not on the same level as a service dog, the Mental Health Support Animal should be reasonably well behaved in public with no unprovoked aggression to people or animals. The animal (most likely a dog) must be under the complete control of the person that is handling the dog which is always the patient that requires the need of the animal. The exception is when the animal is in probationary status. The idea of this is to allow a trainer or someone that is competent in working with the animal to condition it so it can cooperate and behave appropriately in situations it may otherwise have been unfamiliar with. A support animal may be denied from certain areas. Any establishment that receives government funding or aid will not be allowed. This will include public transportation, hospitals, government buildings, and social services entities. Private businesses will be allowed to deny an animal in probationary.
The animal will be required to be tethered to the handler at all times. In example, a person with a loop strap leash may use the loop handle to secure with the handler’s belt. Another example is to wrap the leash through belt loops around the waist. This will eliminate the concern of the animal running off if the leash is dropped. It also should control any minor chance that the dog may feel provoked and lunge after the provoker. The leash’s entire length must not exceed 6′ and must not be fray or show signs of significant wear. The choice of collars can be of any collar that is not considered as abusive by the local animal welfare service (such as the Humane Society). Age requirements while no specific age will be defined by the veterinarian as a young adult or older. Puppies or kittens do not qualify.
The animal must be spayed or neutered. This reduces the animal’s competitive drive to compete and procreate. It also eliminates those urges that a female animal in heat exudes in promoting breeding. The animal must be micro-chipped, up to date on any vaccinations, and have any required local licenses in place. Micro chipping confirms ownership. Being properly vaccinated reduces the spread of animal diseases, and having local licenses or dog tags when required is to keep in line with local ordinances.
The animal will be required to wear a vest or pack that will have the emblems as an official mental health support animal. Exceptions is when size or shape will make such provision as unrealistic. The support animal must also fit the animal listing as a Emotional Support Animal by state guidelines. If there is no such guidelines, the default animal will be canine.
The animal can be associated with multiple handlers, although this is not likely. As long as the animal is with approved handlers, and direct possession of such, the animal can be allowed to serve its role of a mental health support animal. In example if John needs Fido as an Mental Health Support Animal, then John must be the one that the leash is attached when the dog is in the public as a Mental Health Support Animal. John’s brother Fred will be allowed to walk the dog, or take the in his car, but at this time, Fido is no longer acting as a Mental Health Support Animal, and will be a violation of the law for the vest to remain on Fido while Fred is in control of Fido.