Do you know the difference between a Service Dog and an Emotional Support Animal? Many people lump these assistance animals into one category; however, they are not the same and they have different levels of access.
A certified Service Dog is one that is specifically trained to perform a task for a disabled individual. This work could include any number of things. It could be as simple as picking up dropped items all the way to alerting the person to an oncoming health issue.
Emotional support animals are not specially trained to provide a task, but instead provide comfort and emotional support to their owners. An ESA requires a doctor’s note stating your need for the animal to live or travel with their owner.
In this post, we will tackle the rights of the ESA and how one can go about getting a legitimate Emotional Support Animal doctor’s note or letter.
What Are the Legal Rights of an ESA?
The Emotional Support Animal does have some rights under Federal Law. These rights are not as extensive as a Service Dog (which is allowed full access with its handler), but are just as important.
The first right you have with your Emotional Support Animal is to “no pets” policy rental units. The landlord, building manager or owner must make reasonable accommodation for your ESA as long as it does not cause him/her undue financial or administrative burdens.
You can, however, be asked to leave or denied housing if your ESA is destructive or is causing a danger or threat to the other tenants. It also should go without saying that if your Emotional Support Animal is a horse or wild animal, you most likely will be denied housing.
The second right you have is to take your ESA into the cabin of an aircraft at no extra charge. But once again, your Emotional Support Animal will have to be well-behaved, and it will be expected to sit on the floor in front of your legs. The ESA will also have to be of a reasonable size (you won’t get a horse on the plane, trust me).
How Do I Get an ESA Doctor’s Note?
Before you get an animal with the expectation of making it an Emotional Support Animal, there is a process to be followed to make it legitimate; the doctor’s note.
Seeking medical help from a mental health professional is your first step. This person can help you with your condition and they can prescribe you an Emotional Support Animal as part of your treatment plan.
The letter must be signed and dated and include your doctor’s license number, date and place it was issued. This document is only valid for one year.
Having this doctor’s validation will help prevent people from denying you your legal rights.
What if I don’t have access to a mental health professional?
If you are unable to find or connect with a mental health professional, you can work with one online to prescribe your ESA for your mental disability. Please note that ESA Registration is neither necessary nor recognized by airlines and landlords.
Be aware of illegitimate online ESA letter sites that award ESA doctor notes to anyone and everyone. Many of these sites do not follow the rules and regulations and it may make your ESA doctor note invalid. Letter mills do exist, so be sure to thoroughly check out the site and make sure that your ESA letter is legitimate before you send them any money.
Get On the Road to Recovery
If you are suffering from an emotional or mental illness, be sure to seek medical help. Once you are under a doctor’s care, ask them if they could provide you with an ESA letter. If so adopt an animal that you can bond with or use your current pet, then get on the road to recovery. The Emotional Support Animal may just be what will help you begin to live again.
Start your questionnaire now to see if you qualify for an emotional support animal.
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