A lot of people struggling with mental health issues rely on emotional support animals for improved wellbeing. In countries like America, they are widely recognised and there are laws, regulations and governing bodies to ensure that everything is kept above board. This often leads to some confusion with those who have emotional support animals in the UK where the laws are different.
When searching on sites like Google for information about ESAs a lot of American sites come up and it can be difficult to know what applies in the UK, leading to many people thinking that their animals have more rights than they do or getting scammed into registering them on illegitimate registries – for a fee!
In the UK there are very few rules to govern emotional support animals and there is no official registry.
Plenty of people with medical and psychological disabilities have legitimate needs emotional support animals but unfortunately, ESAs are not considered legitimate assistant animals here is the UK. We are hoping that this will change in future and if you would like to help support this change you can sign this petition.
If you or a loved one have an ESA and are confused or overwhelmed by the information online here are some tips to avoid being scammed.
Read the fine print
A lot of services online that scam people do so through misleading you. One of the reasons it can often be hard to shut them down is because if you read into the fine print they often admit that by paying for there service you don’t actually get anything.
For example, there is a UK ESA registry SCAM site that misleads users into thinking it is an official registry. If you don’t know a lot about the UK law and aren’t aware of the lack of regulation around this issue you could be fooled into thinking that you might get certain benefits such as those given to ESAs in the USA.
Don’t part with your money
It’s common for scammers to pray on the more vulnerable in society to take advantage and steal their money. Those suffering from mental health issues can often, therefore, become a target. It’s important to be aware that there are no official registrations for ESAs but even if there were from looking at other service animal registries it’s unlikely you would ever be charged a fee to register one.
As you can see in the screenshot above is all that is promised from their registration – which costs £50! – is that it “may” help you take your animal shopping. This information is tucked away in the small print of the site. Scam sites often use nice design, big and distracting imagery to mislead you in what you are getting and keep the actual information in the small print.
They may even send you official looking cards for your animal which you will only find out hold little to no power when you actually attempt to use them.
If it Sounds Too Good to be True, it Probably is
Chances are if you want to register an ESA it’s because you’ve already encountered a number of issues with having your animal. From renting to travel, with no legal support for ESAs, having your animal with you can become very stressful.
If you arrive at a site and it promises to take all these troubles away, you will probably start to think “this sounds too good to be true.” As soon as you start thinking this, that is an immediate red flag. Simple and easy registrations do not make sense – If ESAs did get recognition as medical assistance animals in the UK, you would likely need to register with a medical professional or at least have a letter from your doctor.