ESAs provide their owners with companionship and affection which helps to promote wellbeing and alleviates symptoms of mental and emotional distress. Although not yet recognised as certified assistance animals in the UK, they are certified in the USA and can be found more and more often in American homes.
Bunnies can provide relief for those suffering with major depressive disorder and anxiety
Owners of bunnies acting as ESAs say that their bunnies have helped them with many mental health conditions such as major depressive disorder and Anxiety, as well as with the emotional distress that accompanies Parkinson’s disease. Owners claim that the rabbits provide them with a sense of purpose and note specific behaviours performed by the rabbits that have a positive impact.
A ‘chin’ occurs when a rabbit will bump something or someone to claim it, making owners feel wanted and cared for. A ‘binky’ is when a rabbit will run, jump, and twist in the air which provides amusement. The rabbits are also said to be able to recognise when someone is feeling especially sad and will interact with them differently, such as ‘kissing’ their owner’s face when they are crying.
Whilst bunnies are becoming more popular and clearly provide some with great benefit, people are advised against choosing a rabbit only to be an ESA and not also a pet, as rabbits are said to have a wide range of personalities, not all of which are suited to the role of ESA.