Service Dog Certification or ESA Letter? 
Which one is best suited for me?

Dogs have been working with humans for thousands of years. Their loyalty, unconditional love and willingness to serve have brought the canine species into many areas of our lives. This includes helping those with both physical, mental and emotional disabilities.

There are two basic types of assistance dogs. Emotional support animals and Service Dogs both assist their owners, but they are not the same and require different steps to obtain them.

What is a Service Dog?

A Service Dog is a type of assistance animal that provides a service or a task for their disabled handler. According to the ADA, service animals may only be dogs and miniature horses. Service dogs must be specially trained to assist their handler and must be well behaved while on duty. These dogs have more access rights than emotional support animals. See below for a few examples of the types of service dogs.

  • Hearing Dogs – Alert the deaf to different sounds, alarms, etc.
  • Guide Dogs – Used by those that are visually impaired to help them navigate around obstacles, through a crowd, etc.
  • Mobility Dogs – Provides support and does tasks for those with limited mobility or with balance issues.
  • Psychiatric Service Dogs – Provides support for invisible mental illnesses. These dogs alert or calm their owners in need.
  • Medical Alert Dogs – Alerts their owners before an attack, seizure, or drop in blood sugar.

What is an Emotional Support Animal?

This type of assistance dog or animal does not require any specific training. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be of the canine species.

Emotional Support Animals (ESA) can be a dog, cat, reptile, bird, rodent or even a horse or potbelly pig.

esa rodent

Emotional support animals can be almost any species!

The ESA is there to provide the individual that suffers from an emotional issue comfort, support, and unconditional love.

The types of emotional conditions that may require the assistance of an ESA are;

What Rights Do Service Dogs Have?

Since the Service Dog is necessary for a disabled individual to function in a normal fashion, it does have legal rights when it comes accessibility.

These trained canines are allowed into all public areas and transportation-modes, such as the cabin of an airplane, subways, trains, and on cruise ships.

The Service Dog must also be given the right under the Fair Housing Act to be permitted into “no pets” policy housing.

The Service Dog, however, will not be allowed into the kitchen of a restaurant where food is being prepared or into the operating room of a hospital.

What Rights Do Emotional Support Animals Have?

Since the ESA does not perform any specific tasks for a person, the accessibility it has is limited. The Emotional Support Animal does have a right to be kept in a “no pets” policy apartment/condo and also to ride in the cabin of an aircraft.

By Federal Laws, these are the only two places that an ESA is legally allowed.

esa dog travel

What Makes a Service Dog Legitimate?

Once your dog is trained, you can obtain your service dog certification. Keep in mind that you will have to have a condition that falls in line with the Americans with Disabilities Act definition. If your disability is not outwardly visible, you can obtain a letter from your physician stating your need for the Service Dog.

Once your service dog is registered, we may also order a custom Service Dog License, a special vest for your dog, and a certificate of registration.

What Makes an ESA Legitimate?

For your Emotional Support Animal to be legitimate you will need the following;

  • A letter from your mental health (or other medical professionals) stating your need for the ESA.
  • Your ESA letter must be on your mental health professional’s letterhead.
  • The ESA letter must also include the doctor’s license number, where it was issued and the date it was issued.
  • The letter may need to be updated annually.

Although you are not required to register an ESA, you are required to have the proper documents when you are searching for housing or when taking your ESA on a flight.

How Do I Get an ESA Letter from ESA Doctors? Click Here


Service Dogs & Emotional Support Animals Both Work

Whether you require a Service Dog or an Emotional Support Animal all depends on what you need the animal to do for you. Specific tasks are left up to specially trained canines, while the ESA is there purely for comfort and support. Either way, certifying your need for your assistance animal will help you cut through the red tape of both housing and transportation, making your animal more than just a pet.

Need an ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional?

See if you qualify by clicking the link below.button-with-arrow