an emotional support animal? ESAs are recognized as a type of assistance animal for mental health conditions under federal law, and ESA owners are protected against discrimination.
Emotional support animals are not considered pets and are thus exempt from many rules that apply to pets. If you live in the Peach State, housing providers must reasonably accommodate your emotional support animal, even if your building has a complete ban on pets. Landlords are also never allowed to charge a fee or deposit when it comes to emotional support animals.
The only way to qualify for an emotional support animal in Georgia is by obtaining an ESA letter from a Georgia licensed healthcare professional. In this article, we’ll explain what an ESA is, what rights you have as an ESA owner, and how you can qualify for an ESA letter in Georgia online.
How does Georgia Define Emotional Support Animals?
An emotional support animal is a dog, cat, or other small, domesticated animal typically kept in the home that helps people with mental health issues. An ESA alleviates symptoms of conditions like depression, anxiety, PTSD, autism, phobias, and learning disorders by being a trusted and reliable presence in their owner’s life.
Emotional support animals do not require any specialized training. They assist their owners by providing comfort and support through their presence. Emotional support animals are legally recognized under federal law and have special rights for housing.
Landlords must reasonably accommodate ESAs if the tenant can present an ESA letter. That applies even if the building strictly bans pets. ESA owners are also exempt from having to pay pet fees and deposits. ESAs are also exempt from restrictions on pets based on breed, size, or weight.
What is an ESA Letter?
An ESA letter offers proof that a person needs an emotional support animal. An ESA letter legitimizes an animal’s role as more than a pet. Landlords and other housing providers are allowed to request an ESA letter from a tenant to verify that an animal is indeed an emotional support animal.
An ESA letter must come from a licensed healthcare professional. An ESA letter establishes that a person needs an emotional support animal to help with their mental or emotional health disability.
Who Can Write an ESA Letter in Georgia?
Only individuals who are “licensed healthcare professionals” may write an ESA letter. Those who fall under that title include:
- licensed clinical social workers (LCSW),
- licensed nurses,
- psychiatrists, and
If you are unable to visit a licensed healthcare professional in person, you may be able to get your ESA letter online from a remote therapist. If you live in Georgia, you should make sure that you seek help from someone that is licensed to practice in Georgia.
ESA Doctors can help connect you to a healthcare professional licensed for Georgia knowledgeable about ESA recommendations and ESA letters.
ESA letters can be acquired online through telehealth with a licensed healthcare professional licensed for the state of Georgia.ESA Doctors, est. 2015
Flying with your Emotional Support Animal or Service Dog in Georgia
Sadly, emotional support animals are no longer allowed to board flights. U.S. airlines stopped accepting ESAs in 2021 due to regulatory changes. The only mental health assistance animal that can board airplanes free of charge is psychiatric service dogs (PSD). PSDs are also exempt from the size and weight restrictions that apply to normal pets on planes.
In order to have a psychiatric service dog, there are two main requirements.
- The owner must have a psychiatric disability. That can include conditions like severe depression, anxiety, PTSD, or phobias. A licensed healthcare professional is best suited to determine whether an individual meets these criteria and can issue a PSD letter to qualifying clients.
- A psychiatric service dog must be individually trained to perform a task or job that assists with their owner’s disability. PSDs must also be trained to be well-behaved in public settings, such as a busy airport.
If you qualify for a psychiatric service dog, you can fly on airlines without any charge by submitting the DOT’s service animal transportation form before departure.
How to Get your Psychiatric Service Dog Letter from ESA Doctors
Where You Can Adopt an ESA in Georgia
Paws in Atlanta is a no-kill animal shelter whose animals are well-socialized and housebroken. You’re bound to find your forever fur friend in this nurturing environment!
Atlanta Animal Rescue Friends
The Atlanta Animal Rescue Friends (AARF) links animals with forever homes through a strong community presence. They work hard on socializing their pets before adoption.
Atlanta Humane Society
One of the largest and most popular pet adoption sites in Atlanta, the Atlanta Humane Society, also attempts to engage with the local community by sponsoring contests and activities like the “Georgia’s Cutest Pet” contest.
Where You Can Take Your ESA for Exercise
If your ESA happens to be a dog and you live in the Atlanta area, the following are some top-rated parks:
Piedmont Dog Park
The Piedmont Dog Park features a beautiful three acres of leash-free fun for a dog. It also boasts dog-friendly concession stands offering popsicles and snacks for dogs!
Centennial Olympic Park
This park has 22 acres of green space in the middle of metro Atlanta! Open since 1996, when Atlanta hosted the Olympic Games, Centennial Olympic Park offers a dog water play station called the Fountain of Rings.
Your ESA in Georgia
If you own an emotional support animal in Georgia, you are protected against discrimination in housing under federal law. You can only qualify for an emotional support animal if you have an ESA letter from a healthcare professional licensed for Georgia.
ESA Doctors can connect you to a Georgia licensed healthcare professional that understands ESA letters. Just click on the link below to get started living your best life with your emotional support animal.