Updated: October 2019
We will cover how to get an emotional support animal and why you want to make your ESA legitimate by getting an ESA letter. The first step is to become well versed in ESA regulations so you can seek help from the right sources and stand up for yourself when needed.
Steps to getting an emotional support animal
- Determine if you would benefit from an ESA’s support
- Connect with a licensed mental health professional in our network
- Choose the type of animal to adopt, if you currently do not have a pet
- Train your ESA to be a good citizen
- Learn how to properly use your ESA letter
If you believe you would benefit and qualify for an Emotional Support Animal, complete the ESA Questionnaire in the link below to get your legitimate ESA letter.
1. Types of Conditions when an ESA may be Recommended
There are several conditions listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM V) where an Emotional Support Animal can be beneficial. These include;
- Learning Disabilities
- Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
- Anxiety Disorders
- Motor Skills Disorder
- Intellectual Disorder
Did you know? Your landlord/airline cannot ask about your disability or charge you additional pet fees for your ESA.
If you have a disability as noted by the DSM, you will be protected under Fair Housing and the Air Carrier Access Act. If you qualify for an ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional, your landlord cannot deny your ESA even they are a no pet building. In addition, the airlines are also aware of your rights as an ESA handler though each airline has their own specific policy on how to process and handle passengers traveling with an Emotional Support Animal. Check with them right when you book your ticket.
2. How to Get An Emotional Support Animal
An ESA is more than just a pet. Animals are there to help you through your emotional or mental issues. For this reason, you will want to get a prescription letter for an ESA. You can do this through a mental health professional (psychiatrist, therapist, licensed counselor, etc.).
Did you know? If you work with ESA Doctors, your letter is as valid as if you saw a therapist in person.
Your doctor or licensed mental health professional will provided an assessment, which may include the use of an Emotional Support Animal. The doctor or LMHP will then write you a letter stating you have an emotional/mental condition and why the ESA is an important part of your well being.
The letter should be written on their official letterhead, signed and dated. It should also include their license number and the date and place their license was first issued.
The letter is now good for one year from the date you first received it. Airlines and landlords may request it updated annually so be sure to set an alarm so you remember to renew your ESA letter each year.
If for any reason you cannot get to a mental health professional in person, there are reputable online resources, such as ESA Doctors. ESA Doctors is a technology company that will refer you to a mental health professional well versed in ESA regulations.
3. Adopt an ESA
Did you know? You can get your ESA letter before or after you adopt!
If you are interested in a dog or cat, look to your local animal shelters or rescue organizations to find that perfect ESA. Having a strong connection and bond with your Emotional Support Animal is key to helping you with your disability.
One of the great things about an Emotional Support Animal is that it can be any species of animal including:
The animal, however, should be one that brings you a sense of well being and comfort in times of stress, depression, or anxiety. We do not recommend adopting an ESA that is in violation of local regulations though. The regulations on this may vary from city to city so we recommend checking with local authorities if you are considering an exotic animal.
If your ESA is not a cat or a dog, please be aware that the airlines may place restrictions on your travel rights. In August 2019, The Department of Transportation released a 28 page memo clarifying important points regarding Emotional Support Animals and your air travel rights. If you may be impacted by this, we recommend that you read this post before traveling with your ESA.
4. Training Your Emotional Support Animal
Once you have chosen an ESA, be sure to give it the basic training (if a dog) to ensure it will be well behaved in public. Although training is NOT required for Emotional Support Animals, a mannerly canine (or feline) will be more readily accepted over an unruly one.
Did you know? You can train your ESA yourself.
You can train your ESA yourself. Not only will this help the ESA community as a whole, but it will also create a meaningful bond between you and your ESA.
If training is not something you are able to do by yourself, no worries! You can look for support from a local trainer. They will be able to give you hands-on tips on how to train your ESA.
5. Why You Need to Make Your ESA Legitimate
To gain the benefits of an ESA, you will want to make your Emotional Support Animal legitimate. This is done through a certification process using a mental health professional. As discussed, this can be done in person from a local mental health professional and it can be done online.
Once your ESA is certified, you will be eligible for “no pets” policy housing, as long as your Emotional Support Animal does not cause undue financial or administrative burden on the housing provider.
You will also be entitled to ride in the cabin of an aircraft with your ESA present, at no additional cost to you.
Did you know? ESA Registration is NOT required if you have an ESA letter.
Many people are trying to pass off their pets as Emotional Support Animals without ESA letters. Your landlord and airline will reject your ESA if they do not have the proper documentation. The certification process is well worth the time and money.
ESA registration is neither necessary nor required by law. ESA registration is not recognized by airlines or landlords. The only recognized certification of an emotional support animal is an ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional.
Emotional Support Animals Provide Real Support
Seeking the help you need for your emotional or mental disability may be the first step in your long-term mental health plan. An ESA provides an invaluable service that has helps countless individuals get back to living a normal or even better life.
Qualify for an Emotional Support Animal
Let us help you get the Support you need!