Over at Vox, Brian Resnick interviews Molly Crossman, an expert on emotional support animals. She confirms what an awful lot of people only mutter under their breath:
Resnick: Overall, what are the strongest claims we can make about animals and mental distress?
Crossman: Well, I’ll qualify it first by saying that most of the research in this area is on dogs. There is some on horses as well, and a few studies on other species. But in terms of the dog studies, we can say that, probably, interactions with animals don’t make stress-related symptoms worse. So that’s good. It also seems they convey sort of small to medium reductions in stress and stress-related symptoms. That’s the strongest thing I’m willing to say….We actually don’t know that it’s the animals specifically that are producing these small to medium reductions in stress. It might be other components of the interventions in which they’re evaluated.
So: they don’t make things worse. They might make things slightly better, but we can’t even say that with any clarity.
Then there’s stuff like this, which happened last night. There’s a backlash brewing against emotional support animals, and their supporters better figure out how to address it before state legislatures start doing it for them.