Day 215: The Emotional Support Tortoise

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When your little flock consists of one (perpetually nervous) feathered being, one (equally anxious) large shell-less being and two shelled beings, it doesn’t take advanced math to figure out who is there to support whom.

Clearly, there is one shell for each of ’em!

It also won’t take much time at all to discern that not every large shell-less being you share your small round world with will be so quick to discern the nature of your close connection.

Therefore….red tape.

Once appropriately interviewed, photographed, registered and badged, the awkward questions tend to stop (although the raised eyebrows may not).

Emotional Support Animal badge
One official “emotional support tortoise” coming right up!

The large shell-less being here….

On a lightly seriously note, I am just one of those people who has always needed the companionship and connection with animals and nature to stay sane, let alone healthy. I’ve shared a lot more elsewhere about my personal battles with eating disorders, anxiety and depression. As I continue to heal, I owe so much to my flock – both human and non-human.

The official ESA letter that is required to accompany all designated emotional support animals comes from my long-time personal physician of more than a decade. She is well aware of and on board with the tremendous value my animals bring to my daily wellbeing and quality of life.

Yet I would never use the ESA designation to take either Malti or Pearl anywhere where the experience would force them far outside their own comfort zones! I primarily use their badges when we need to visit a community center, bookshop or volunteer organization for which having an official ESA badge is viewed as an assurance that the animal participant will be (at least relatively) well-behaved and appropriate for the particular purposes of our visit.

With the ongoing controversy regarding the “emotional support animal” designation today, I wanted to take a minute to clarify the behind-the-scenes of why I chose to apply for Pearl and Malti to become ESAs, how I use their badges (as well as how I don’t) and the greater issue of ensuring that my need for their support doesn’t in any way outweigh their own need for a friendly and appropriate environment that feels safe, welcoming and secure.

Send Malti (& her mama) your comments below! <3

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