In the wild, rabbits use their keen senses to evade prey and find food. Though they’re agile and speedy, they don’t have much in the way of defenses. They lack sharp claws and vicious teeth. What they do have are exceptional senses. They can smell, hear, and see things that humans can’t. This ability to observe their environment allows them to respond quickly and stay safe from their hunters. Paired with their soft gentleness, quiet ways, and attention to their environment are what make rabbits a great option as an emotional support animal.
Can a Rabbit Be an Emotional Support Animal?
As part of a person’s treatment plan for an emotional or mental disorder, an emotional support animal (ESA) is covered under the federal laws. An ESA is a vital part of a person’s healing. Just like cats and dogs, rabbits can provide the warmth and companionship that animals offer. According to the Human-Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI), animals can improve a person’s mental health. At every stage of life, research from HABRI indicates that animals help manage negative emotions and thoughts.
Although a rabbit may not be the first animal that comes to mind as an ESA, rabbits can be excellent as ESAs. They may be exceptionally adorable, but they’re also very attuned to emotion. Their awareness of their environment carries over to their responsiveness to their owner’s emotions. Although they’re not overly expressive, once an owner begins to familiarize themselves with their rabbit, they may notice a difference in their rabbit’s reactions depending on their own emotions.
Benefits of Having a Rabbit as an Emotional Support Animal
Though rabbits can vary in size, most don’t grow larger than 10 pounds. Pygmy rabbits, the smallest breed, can weigh less than one pound. Their size makes them easier to hold than larger animals, even for people who may be weak or disabled. Rabbits can live in smaller spaces and, best of all, don’t require regular walks. When traveling, rabbits easily fit into crates and airline cabins without impacting other travelers’ experiences.
Despite their size, rabbits can emanate tons of warmth and comfort. Their soft fur, round bodies, and quietness make for convenient cuddling. They develop bonds with their owners and have unique personalities. Rabbits are also intelligent, and some rabbits can even be toilet trained. With an average lifespan of over ten years, the rabbit-human relationship has a lot of time to develop a bond.
Where to Get a Rabbit for an Emotional Support Animal
If you’re ready to commit to caring for a rabbit, it’s not difficult to find one. Rabbits can be found in pet stores. But better yet, frequent your local animal shelters, as they often have rabbits that need forever homes. When you choose a rabbit, make sure to have it spayed or neutered, and establish regular veterinary checks.
Remember, you can always get your ESA letter before or after adopting or purchasing your rabbit.
How to Make a Rabbit an Emotional Support Animal
Whether you are thinking of adopting a rabbit or you already have one, you can always look into making your rabbit an ESA. If you’re already seeing a mental health professional or doctor, you can inquire with them regarding incorporating an ESA into your mental health or emotional treatment plan. You can also inquire online with any licensed mental health care professional to see if an ESA is right for you. Once it’s determined that an ESA could benefit your situation, your mental health professional will write a legitimate emotional support letter for you and your rabbit.
To make your rabbit an ESA, an ESA Letter needs to be obtained from a licensed healthcare professional who is licensed in your state of residence.ESA Doctors, est. 2015
Emotional Support Animal Letter for Your Rabbit
An ESA letter qualifies an individual to own an animal as their ESA. They are written by a licensed mental healthcare professional like a Licensed Mental Health Social Worker, psychologist, or psychiatrist. The professional writing the letter must be licensed in your state of residence and have a valid license number.
The ESA letter should contain the following information:
- Your licensed healthcare professional’s contact and licensing information
- Federal or state laws regarding your need for an emotional support animal
- That the ESA is needed for your disability
The ESA letter should also be current within a year of use, emphasize its necessity, and reference to the federal or state laws it applies to. According to the Fair Housing Act, rabbits qualify as emotional support animals to assist people with mental or emotional disabilities. A landlord cannot charge a pet fee or pet deposit for an ESA rabbit and cannot deny it due to a no-pets policy. If you want to fly in the cabin of a plane with your emotional support rabbit, you must check with the airline. If the airline accepts emotional support animals to travel with their owners, the ESA travel letter must be less than one year old and submitted to your airline no later than 48 hours from your departure time.
Where Can I Register My Emotional Support Rabbit?
First and foremost, there’s no law mandating an ESA to be registered. It’s not required and, although their names may indicate otherwise, there is no official national register for emotional support animals.
That said, registering your ESA does have a few upsides. You can avoid the disruptions and questions that often come with having an ESA. Registering your ESA allows you to have all your supporting documents in one area, which can be especially important in emergencies. When looking for housing, having a registered ESA can make securing housing simpler, without any interrogation. When registering your ESA rabbit, look for registration organizations with excellent reviews and reputations. You want an organization with a long history and good customer service.
Your Rabbit as Your Emotional Support Animal
All in all, a rabbit is a great pick as an emotional support animal. And all you need for an ESA, whether a rabbit or any other animal, is a legitimate ESA letter. The ESA letter provides the information necessary to establish your rabbit as your source of doctor prescribed emotional support. If you are not currently visiting a therapist, or your doctor does not know about the benefits of an ESA, you may qualify for an ESA letter online.