Do emotional support animals exist outside of first world countries?

In discussions I have had with folks recently, we are wondering if the phenomena of people needing Emotion Support Animals is a uniquely first world problem. Obviously there is a recent stigma of people with these animals forcing their way into restaurants, airlines flights, etc., where animals are not generally acceptable, and lots of questions as to whether they are legitimate. In countries that have experienced genocides, ethnic cleansing, etc. do you ever see these animals? Ironically, I would think they would be needed MORE in those types of places where PTSD would be very common. If I went to the Balkans or Rwanda, for example, would I commonly see Emotional Support Animals today or in the past? For that matter, is this largely an American phenomena? Do people in places like England or France has as many Emotional Support Animals as Americans do?

The distinction between first, second, and third-world countries hasn’t really been relevant since the end of the Cold War. Still, if you want to project that worldview onto the present, you might start answering your question by looking at airline policies, since these tend to relatively few in number and well-documented online. Travelingonaleash.com purports to list emotional support animal policies for a large number of the world’s airlines. You’ll see that airlines from many non-first-world countries (Ethiopia, Panama, Colombia, Qatar, etc.) recognize and allow emotional support animals, even on flights that don’t originate or terminate in a first-world country.

Pets are kept in every place in the world. Even working dogs that shepherds in 3rd world countries use are treated better than a street dog. I don’t know where the cut-off is between pet and emotional support animal. I suspect if you could determine that you would be closer to understanding the phenomenon.

keeping a dog is not cheap if you treat it well. I suppose you could be cheap about it and not feed good food and skip vaccines and vet visits.

I don’t think countries that have suffered war, ethnic cleansing (etc) are likely to have the necessary social structures in place to provide emotional support of any kind. I doubt you’ll find blind/deaf people in these countries are provided with dogs to assist them either (or if they are, it is extremely limited). The US is priviledged in that it can offer this kind of care to its citizens.

Everyone keeps pets. “Emotional support animals”, though, is an American fad.

And Emotional Support Animals are not covered under the ADA, so may be banned at the wish of the property owner.

I can say that I have never once in 26 years seen an animal companion of any kind in a restaurant or similar venue in Panama (or for that matter elsewhere in Latin America), not even a guide dog. However, I can’t recall ever seeing a guide dog for the blind on the street here either. Traffic is too chaotic and the sidewalks are too uneven for the blind to make their way even with the aid of a guide dog.

In other words, to answer the OP’s question: yes, there are emotional support animals everywhere. Outside America, they are called “pets”.

I don’t think in the UK we recognise a pseudo-medical category called “Emotional Support” animals in the way we identify guide dogs for the blind or some physical support animals for people like paraplegics. Or if we do, it’s quite rare.

This. “Emotional Support Animal” is just a bit of bureaucratic language that people use to get permission to bring their pets places that pets are normally not particularly welcomed.

Yes. They are called, ‘Food’.

In the USA a service animal has a strict legal definition and accompanying legal protections. There are very limited circumstances where a service animal may not accompany its handler.

On the other hand, as HurricaneDitka states, so many people claim their pets are emotional support animals, thinking the handler and animal deserves access and assistance equivalent to that of a service animal. The only legal basis for this is via commercial air travel. ADA does not apply to USA commercial air travel since there is a different law that applies, the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA). ACAA allows for emotional support animals aboard commercial aircraft. ACAA also places limitations upon service animals.

Because of the abuse of ADA by emotional support animal owners, states are beginning to react to protect the integrity of ADA and the service animal program. Come January 1, 2019, in Washington State, if you attempt to pass off your emotional support animal as a service animal, you are subject to a $500.00 fine. We’ll see how that goes down when it comes to enforcement.

This is interesting! What places that normally don’t welcome pets could I bring my Emotional Support Animal? (Suppose, like, cat or dog; not ten foot alligator! :))

The aforementioned commercial airlines (passenger cabin), for one. Hotels, college dorms, hospitals, restaurants, and other non-pet-friendly businesses (which, in at least some cases, aren’t legally obligated but in general it’s probably a bit easier to apply pressure to places for denying your ESA entrance than your pet).

Right, how can that be enforced if it’s illegal to ask for any documentation for a service animal?

It seems to me that it would be a straightforward matter to issue id cards for service animals, and that people with service animals should support this - because the abuse of the system by selfish pet owners angers everyone and undermines public support and tolerance for their genuine service animals.

On the other hand, other countries may be more relaxed about letting pets into, e.g., restaurants, or at least, don’t attempt to nail down a detailed legal/regulatory framework around them.

Sure, and I’m fine with an informal system of being “relaxed about pets” - that’s a civilized two-way street of reasonableness. If a pet is clean & well behaved, don’t exclude it; if it’s not, don’t bring it, or you’ll be asked to leave.

But the U.S. system is so obviously open to abuse by selfish pet owners when it’s explicitly illegal to ask for proof if someone just claims their pet is a service animal. In a hotel last week, some people claimed their dog was a “service animal in training”. They then left it alone in the room all afternoon, where it barked non-stop. Hotel management: our hands are tied, it’s against the law for us to question or dispute whether it’s actually a service animal, or to take any action.

Even the ADA regulations above above seem inadequate. They only mention dogs. What about the nice lady with a seeing-eye cat?

I’ll disagree that every culture keeps pets in the same sense that we do in the US. In my time in Malawi and Zambia, pets were a strange concept to them. Certain people might have a dog for hunting or as a guard, but they certainly wouldn’t be allowed inside a house and the emotional bond is way, way different than in the US. Shoot, one place I stayed, they made fun of me for tossing a scrap to the dog and the dog was exceptionally wary of getting too close where it might have gotten a kick or slap. He wasn’t a stray either, but an ‘owned’ animal, but their dogs are generally much more purposeful. And that’s not an isolated incident. As far as I could tell, he scrounged for his own food from wherever he could get it. In my experience (though limited) a dog is much more likely to be beaten than to ever be petted. Pets seemed to be considered by them to be an azungu conceit that was amusing but impractical.