The Windy City offers a slew of pet-friendly options for urban dwellers with furry friends. Take food trucks, for instance. Chicago has a gourmet food truck just for pups! Called Fido-to-Go, this food truck is a local favorite and includes gourmet treats like frozen yogurt and gluten-free cookies. Even their shopping centers, like The Shops at North Bridge, have pet stations with water bowls!  

With its big-city vibe, Chicago offers a fun environment for any pet or emotional support animal owner. 

What is an ESA?

An emotional support animal (ESA) is an integral part of a person’s mental health plan. ESAs provide security and affection, allowing people with mental or emotional issues to heal. 

ESAs are not service animals, though they are often mistaken for them. ESAs don’t require any specialized training, and service animals receive specialized training to perform a particular task. For example, service dogs can receive training to help prevent a person with mobility issues from falling. 

To have a legally recognized emotional support animal in Chicago, you need an ESA letter.

ESA Doctors, est. 2015
ESA rabbit at home eyeing some carrots
An emotional support animal (ESA), which can be any domesticated animal such as a dog, cat, fish, or rabbit, is an integral part of a person’s mental health plan.

Who Can Write an ESA letter in Chicago? 

Having an ESA letter is vital to having a valid ESA. A licensed healthcare professional must be the author of an ESA letter for it to be legitimate. A few examples of providers able to write ESA letters include:

  • psychiatrists
  • licensed clinical social workers (LCSW)
  • licensed nurse practitioners
  • psychologists

The provider should be licensed for the state of Illinois. You can see a healthcare professional in person in Chicago or utilize an online service that will pair you with a remote professional.

ESA Rights in Chicago

In Chicago, emotional support animals are allowed to live with their owners in no-pet buildings. ESAs must be accommodated by landlords free of charge. That means landlords in Chicago cannot charge pet fees, pet rent, or pet deposits if a tenant has an ESA. In addition, restrictions on the weight, size, and breed of animals do not apply to emotional support animals.

Where You Can Adopt an ESA in Chicago 

Remember to choose an ESA to fit your needs and lifestyle. After all, you’ll have to be able to care for the ESA. So choose an ESA that you can keep healthy, groom, feed, and exercise. It may take a bit of searching, but when you find your ESA, you’ll know it.  

On Tail At A Time shelter Chicago

One Tail at a Time

Since 2007, One Tail at a Time has served the Chicago area by finding homes for at-risk pets. Working with their extensive community volunteers, One Tail at a Time saves Chicago’s homeless animals and finds the fur-ever homes.

PAWS shelter Chicago

PAWS Chicago

PAWS Chicago was started by a mother-daughter team as a reaction to the abundance of kill shelters and homeless animals in Chicago. PAWS works to ensure their animals are adoptable and socialized.

Anti-Cruelty Society shelter Chicago

Anti-Cruelty Society

The Anti-Cruelty Society is another excellent option for adopting a potential ESA in Chicago. This organization has been committed to animal welfare since 1899 and offers adoption services for dogs, cats, rabbits, and other small animals.


Obtaining an emotional support animal in Chicago involves determining your eligibility, getting a letter from a mental health professional, and finding the right emotional support animal to suit your needs. By visiting one of the suggested adoption centers, you’ll be one step closer to welcoming a loving and supportive companion into your life.

Qualify for an emotional support animal in Chicago, Illinois, by applying for your ESA letter online

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