In the beginning, desk research and interviews were conducted around the relationship between emotional support pets and their owners with particular interest in the bond. I originally hypothesized there was something more special with their bond than others. I interviewed Mallory Martin with her emotional support cats and Syndey Morlock with her emotional support hedgehog.
Research was then expanded to include the relationships with service and regular pet owners so I could make comparisons and really see if there was something more with emotional support pets and their owners. This link goes to a spreadsheet containing the results from this research expansion. I got results from people with animals like horses, fish, birds, rabbits, and many more.
As this research was compared and assessed, I found that many of the emotions and experiences were the same, if not very similar, regardless of whether the pet was regular, emotional support, or service.
Some words respondents used to describe how they feel when they see their pets are excited, happy, relieved, and safe. When describing what their relationship was like, the words love, close, and family frequently showed up.
Respondents also show overwhelming agreement that animals offer a companionship that humans can't offer, and that most people could emotionally benefit from owning a pet.