The Emotional support animal is intended to provide psychological assistance to a person under stress or in an unstable emotional state. He is employed in areas such as justice, medicine, psychiatry or police.
There is growing recognition of the beneficial effects of dogs on humans, both physically and as a regulator of heart rate and blood pressure, as well as psychologically and emotionally. It is often said that the dog acts like an emotional sponge; better than that he is able to “feel” them, in the true sense of the word. The man gives off odors thanks to the hormones that he produces, perfectly perceptible by the dog’s subtle sense of smell. He is thus able to know if a woman is pregnant or not and to detect certain types of cancers.
Thousands of years of dog domestication have made him the safest and most faithful of man’s allies. This is not a vain formula; the dog spontaneously reassures a person that he feels stressed or destabilized. It also acts in a more passive way, facilitating the social bond and ensuring a role of derivative in stressful situations.
The Labradors Retrievers and Golden Retrievers are the two breeds most used for this type of mission. Dogs are rigorously selected according to very strict criteria and follow a training course of two years on average. They must have an excellent physical and mental constitution, evaluated by the quality of their pedigree, and present natural aptitudes for their future function.
It was in the United States that the first Emotional support animals appeared. Whether in the United States or in Canada, Emotional support animals are used in courts of justice where people who may be weakened by direct confrontation with their abuser must testify. These are often children who are victims of sexual abuse, but more broadly, of anyone in a situation of vulnerability (rape victims, parents of murdered children, etc.). The dogs are there to give them support and comfort and to bring them to testify with calm and confidence.