It is already a well-known fact that animals can help reduce the effects of anxiety, depression and similar mental or emotional illnesses. These animals are called emotional support animals (ESA) and specific federal laws are devoted to providing their owners with all the comfort they need. Read on to learn more about “registering” an ESA, as well as all the laws and rules connected to it…
How to make my Dog my ESA
If you already have a dog and are ready to make them your official Emotional Support Animal, you will need to qualify for an ESA Letter. An ESA letter is a recommendation letter written by a licensed mental health professional. If you do not have access to a mental health professional, we would be happy to pair you with one. To qualify for an ESA letter, click on the link below.
How to Adopt the Right ESA Dog
Adopting a dog is a big decision. One that will hopefully turn into a 10+ year commitment. When looking for the right dog for yourself, you will have to be honest with yourself.
What kind of dog parent will you be? Are you a couch potato or a marathon runner? You must gauge your level of energy and try to match it with your prospective new dog. Are you home all day or do you leave your home for 8+ hours a day? Do you have a yard? Do you have a dog walker that can walk your dogs? These are a few questions that you will have to ask yourself before finding the right ESA dog for yourself.
Rescue, Shelter, or Breeder?
What is the difference between a rescue and a shelter? Shelters are where most stray animals go to be housed. Some shelters are “no kill” shelters that house stray animals for as long as the animal needs. These facilities feed and house the animals without euthanizing any of the animals.
A rescue is where volunteers comb through shelters to find the best candidates to be family pets. Rescues devote their time and resources to get the animal adopted by a loving family. You can find a local rescue or shelter here.
How to Register an ESA Dog
If a part of your suggested treatment includes having an emotional support dog, you can, of course, register the one you already own and have a bond with. If you’re currently not a dog owner, you should consider adopting one. Make sure it has a happy nature and suits your character. Most importantly, you should feel more calm and stress-free when the animal is around.
If you want to register your dog as an ESA, you should know that no official registry exists. What you’ll need is an ESA letter – a prescription letter written by your psychologist, psychiatrist, or a different mental health professional, that confirms that having this dog next to you (in your home and while traveling ) is crucial for your wellbeing.
In this letter, your doctor should write the ESA letter on their official letterhead, include their licensing information, confirm that your dog provides a therapeutic value to you, note that its presence is vital to your everyday life, and date it no later than a year ago. It should also contain your physician’s letterhead, license number and type, as well as the state that issued it.
Once you get this letter from your therapist, your dog is officially an ESA, which brings you a number of benefits.
Housing Rules for ESA Dogs
The normal housing rules do not apply to your emotional support dog. You can live in a “no pets” policy facilities without any additional charges. Landlords can’t ask you for a special training, nor can they refuse to accommodate you.
Federal laws state that, as a disabled person with an ESA, you can bring your dog anywhere, and this includes the place where you live. Not just that, the rules should be changed for your benefit, and make your and your pet’s stay as comfortable as possible.
However, remember that this law doesn’t protect you from paying for any damage your dog makes. Also, should it cause too much noise, become aggressive or destructive, you may end up getting evicted. That is why you should still train your dog, at least on your own, to follow your commands and behave around you and other animals. Socializing it is a crucial step not only for its own good, but also for yours – it will help reduce the chances of stressful situations that could have the exact effect you are trying to avoid.
Flying with an ESA Dog
As long as you are well prepared, and your dog well behaved, you can have a very pleasant experience travelling by air. As airlines have to allow your emotional support animal sit next to you in the airplane cabin, you can have a unique experience and so can your pet friend.
Preparation is crucial in this case – help your dog as much as you can, in advance. Don’t feed it a few hours prior to the flight, don’t let it drink too much water, but let it run for at least an hour so that it isn’t too full of energy in the worst moments. Bring a toy that it loves so that it can calm down in case of a stressful situation, and a dosage of Benadryl prescribed by its vet in case of motion sickness.
Your dog will be allowed to sit at your feet or in your lap, but should be leashed at all times. Of course, bring your ESA letter that proves that having your dog with you is crucial for you during the flight and/or for the activities at the destination. Train your dog to behave well and everything can go smoothly and it can be a memorable event for you both.
All in All…
If your therapist believes that the presence of an emotional support dog will be beneficial for your mental health, don’t hesitate to try out this strategy – you may be surprised with the effects. Just remember to treat your dog well, keep it satisfied and show it how much it means to you. These animals can love you unconditionally and provide endless support, but make sure to show you appreciate it, too.
Qualify for your emotional support dog letter below –
Get the Love and Support you deserve.