Comfort Creatures

Support animals help patients, but that lizard may be against the law

Photograph by Bobby Doherty for TIME

Many people with depression or anxiety are being prescribed emotional support animals: dogs, cats, pigs, hedgehogs and, yes, iguanas.

Petey the pig contains multitudes. He is a beloved member of the Forgione household in suburban Whitestone, Queens. He is a bona fide form of prescription medicine. He is an enemy of the New York City department of health. And on a spring afternoon walk with his owner, Danielle Forgione, 1-year-old Petey is just a pig pursuing wholesome piggish endeavors: snorting, grazing, rooting through the dirt, searching out bugs.

Petey is certified as an emotional-support animal (ESA), and Forgione could use the support. Her father has brain cancer, her brother was killed in a motorcycle accident in March 2012, and she...

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