An Emotional Support Animal (ESA) can be a priceless friend for people suffering from anxiety, depression or other mental illnesses. They provide therapeutic support and are irreplaceable for their owners. The most common type of ESA is an Emotional Support Dog. It is a common misperception that you are required to register your Emotional Support Animal to make it official.
If you are considering registering your dog as an Emotional Support Animal, you should know that there is no official registry. What you need in order to make your your pet your official Emotional Support Animal is an ESA letter written by a licensed therapist.
If are ready to see if you qualify for an ESA letter and would like to connect with a licensed mental health professional to assist you in this process, click on the link below.
How to Register your Emotional Support Animal
- Recognize the benefits provided to you by an Emotional Support Animal
- Connect with a licensed therapist or doctor
- Demonstrate your need for an ESA to the licensed professional
- Get your document(s)
- That’s it. No need to register your dog.
If you registered your Emotional Support Animal on a website, that does not qualify your dog as an ESA! Read this article for information on how to properly qualify for an ESA.
What is an ESA Letter?
An ESA letter is a recommendation letter written by a licensed healthcare professional. Under Fair Housing law, having an ESA letter from a licensed healthcare professional is how you demonstrate to your housing provider that your dog is an ESA. Airlines that accept ESAs will also require an ESA letter from a licensed professional.
ESA letters are usually written by mental health professionals. Physicians are also able to write ESA letters, but in many cases your family doctor or primary physician may not be the right choice. That is because many doctors are unfamiliar with ESAs and ESA letters. To qualify for a legitimate ESA Letter, it’s helpful to work with a licensed mental health professional who specializes in animal therapy and knows the requirements for Emotional Support Animals.
If you are currently working with a therapist, ESA Doctors recommends asking them to write you an ESA Letter.
If your current therapist is unfamiliar with animal therapy or unaware of ESA rights, you can seek support from one of the therapists we work with. The licensed professionals that work with ESA Doctors are ESA specialists and can help determine whether an ESA is right for you. Please click on the image below or on this link to proceed – Qualify for an ESA Letter Online.
How is an ESA Letter different from an ESA Registry?
An ESA registry is a site that offers to “register” your dog in a registry or database (usually for a fee). This is not required by law and does not need to be done. Registering an emotional support animal does not confer any legal benefits.
If any company or website states that ESA registration is required, they are a scam and should not be trusted.
The only way to qualify your pet as an official ESA is to qualify for a legitimate ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional such as a psychologist, social worker, psychiatrist, licensed counselor, LMFT or mental health nurse.
What should an ESA Letter Contain?
An ESA letter include the following information:
- Your full name
- A statement that you have a condition that substantially limits one or more major life activities
- A statement that an ESA is being recommended to help alleviate symptoms of your condition
- The licensed healthcare professional’s license information and signature
An ESA letter should also generally be no older than a year and be on the licensed healthcare professional’s letterhead.
Emotional Support Animal Rights
ESA Right #1 – You can live in “no-pets” policy housing with your Emotional Support Animal
Owners of Emotional Support Animals have special rights under the federal Fair Housing Act. Fair Housing rules for emotional support animals apply to most types of housing, including rentals, condos, co-ops and HOAs. Federal laws prevent landlords from discriminating against you just because you require an Emotional Support animal.
Emotional Support Animals are allowed to live with their owners even in buildings that prohibit pets. Landlords are not allowed to charge any fees or deposits because you have an ESA. ESAs are exempt from building policies that are applicable to normal pets. That means for example that housing providers cannot impose breed or weight restrictions on ESAs.
Landlords are also not allowed to ask questions regarding sensitive details about your condition if you have submitted an ESA letter. As an ESA owner, you have a right to privacy and confidentiality when it comes to specific details about your diagnosis and medical history.
ESA Right #2- Participating airlines will let your ESA fly with you in the cabin free of charge
Certain airlines will allow you to fly with your Emotional Support Animal in the cabin free of charge. You must submit your ESA letter and any forms the airline may require at least 48 hours before your flight. The ESA must be well-behaved and be able to fit in the space at your feet during the flight.
Emotional Support Animal Adoption
If you’re looking to adopt an Emotional Support Dog, you can do so before or after obtaining your ESA letter. When choosing a dog, it’s important to carefully select a dog that works for your particular lifestyle. For example, if you live in a small space you may want to reconsider adopting a large animal that requires room to roam.
You may also want to consider how adept you are at providing basic training for a dog. An ESA does not require specialized training, but they need to be well-mannered and obedient. For example, picking an animal with a history of traumatic experiences may feel noble, but it could be a stressful experience for a person who does not have experience with dog training and needs to deal with their own problems.
No matter which dog you settle on adopting, remember that this animal deserves as much back as it’s giving you. If the dog is helping you stay focused, relaxed and happy, make sure they feel the same way. A relationship with an Emotional Support Animal should bring you both a lifelong friend and support system.
Get your Emotional Support Animal Letter below –
Get the Love and Support you deserve.