If you’re a resident of Alabama and own an emotional support animal, your rights are protected by federal law. ESA owners can live with their assistance animals in no-pets buildings free of charge and are exempt from breed and size restrictions. 

Do you think you may qualify for an emotional support animal? Complete the questionnaire in the link below and get connected to a licensed mental health professional in Alabama today.

What’s an Emotional Support Animal (ESA)?

Alabama allows dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, etc. to be emotional support animals. - ESADoctors
Alabama allows dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, etc. to be emotional support animals.

People use emotional support animals to alleviate the symptoms of various ailments like severe depression, anxiety issues, phobias, and PTSD. ESAs are recognized under federal law as a type of assistance animal used by people with mental and emotional health conditions.ESAs are usually dogs and cats but can be any small, domesticated animal typically kept in the home. For example, some ESAs are rabbits, birds, fishes, gerbils, and turtles. Emotional support animals do not require any specialized training — they perform their function just by being around their owners and providing reliable companionship.

Do I Qualify for an ESA or a Service Animal?

There is a vast difference between an emotional support animal and a service animal. The main difference is that service animals must be specially trained to aid an individual in performing tasks. This could include opening doors, pulling a wheelchair, or alerting the individual to a medical issue.

Psychiatric service dogs are a type of service animal trained to perform tasks for people with mental health disabilities. They can perform jobs like reminding their handler to take medication, using pawing or pressure tactics to provide comfort during moments of distress, or interrupting self-destructive behaviors. 

An emotional support animal, on the other hand, does not require any specialized training. Service animals can only be dogs, whereas ESAs can be a wide variety of animals. Both ESAs and service dogs have rights for housing, but only service dogs are allowed to board flights free of charge.

Emotional Support Animals in Alabama Apartments, Mobile Homes and Rental Homes

Emotional support animals can live with their owners without having to pay pet fees. - ESADoctors
Emotional support animals can live with their owners without having to pay pet fees.

Under the federal Fair Housing Act and guidance from the U.S. Department of Housing, housing providers must reasonably accommodate people with emotional support animals. This applies to apartments, mobile homes, rental homes, co-ops, condos, and HOAs, even if the building has a “no-pets” policy in place. 

Landlords cannot require additional pet fees or pet deposits for people with emotional support animals. ESAs are also exempt from other rules that apply to normal pets, such as limitations on the animal’s size, breed, and weight. 

What questions can be asked? What documentation is required?

Landlords cannot ask for private medical information, medical history records, or detailed information about a person’s disability. According to HUD, the only documentation required is an ESA letter from a licensed healthcare provider.

An ESA letter must come from a licensed healthcare professional who is familiar with your mental health. You can obtain an ESA letter from a healthcare professional that works online. If you are a resident of Alabama, you should make sure your provider is licensed to practice in your state.

How to Get an Emotional Support Animal in Alabama

If you are interested in qualifying for an emotional support animal, talk to your therapist or doctor. They are the best resource to discuss your mental health needs. 

Many therapists and doctors, however, are unfamiliar with ESAs and ESA letters. If you need a healthcare professional specializing in ESA recommendations, ESA Doctors can connect you to one that offers their services online. 

If you qualify, the healthcare professional can issue an ESA letter that has the following:

  • Professional’s name, license number, and contact.
  • Professional’s signature. 
  • Written on the professional’s letterhead.
  • Recommends the use of an emotional support animal to help with a mental or emotional health condition. 

Once you have your legitimate ESA letter, you can submit it to your landlord and request accommodation of your emotional support animal. You can obtain an ESA letter before or after you own the animal that will become your ESA.

Flying with an Emotional Support Animal

Unfortunately, emotional support animals are no longer allowed to board airplane cabins free of charge due to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s regulatory changes in 2021. The only mental health assistance animal allowed on planes now is psychiatric service dogs (PSDs).

PSDs are allowed to board flights free of charge and are exempt from many sizes and weight limitations that apply to pets. There are two criteria for owning a PSD: 

1. You must have a mental health disability; and
2. Your PSD must be fully task-trained. 

A licensed healthcare professional can evaluate whether you meet the disability criteria and issue a PSD letter if you qualify.

All psychiatric service dogs must be fully trained to perform a task or job relating to the handler’s disability. All service dogs must also be capable of behaving in public environments around other people and animals. A service dog that is misbehaving or acting aggressively can be removed from the airport or flight.  

If you would like to connect with a licensed healthcare professional about whether you qualify for a PSD letter, you can get started by clicking on the link below.

How to Get your Psychiatric Service Dog Letter from ESA Doctors

How To Get a PSD Letter - Three Easy Steps - ESADoctors
PSD Letter

You & Your ESA in Alabama

If you are in need of an emotional support animal, contact your local LMHP or connect with one online. Find the support you need and live your best life. - ESADoctors
If you are in need of an emotional support animal, contact your local LMHP or connect with one online. Find the support you need and live your best life.

If you need an Emotional support animal in Alabama, know your rights. Go through the proper channels to ensure your ESA letter is legitimate and be prepared when seeking housing in a “no pets” policy building.

Due to the number of fraudulent claims, landlords seek appropriate proof for emotional support animal requests. Make sure you have the proper documentation to show them in the form of an ESA letter from a licensed professional.

Qualify for an ESA Letter in Alabama


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