In short, no. Veterinarians cannot write an ESA letter because veterinarians are not specifically and legally qualified in the fields of mental health to make that judgment. Only a licensed mental health professional such as a Licensed Social Worker, Psychologist, or Psychiatric. Now, here’s the longer explanation as to why that’s the case:
A client asks you for a letter documenting that her dog is her emotional support animal so she can move into an assisted living facility. The veterinarian, however, for the protection of their profession and the welfare of the client, must argue that they cannot write an ESA letter. They must also state that it is under the jurisdiction of a licensed mental health professional to write the letter. This is because these emotional support animals are being seen as tools for people, that the pet is recommended by a mental health professional to help aid in the person’s mental disability or disorder.
Veterinarians focus their profession on the health and welfare of pets and animals, and not people. Thus, a veterinarian cannot write an ESA letter. However, veterinarians in specific cases do have some say on the actions of the animal itself.
How Can My Vet Help with an ESA?
However, there is some good news, especially for those wishing to travel with their emotional support animal. While emotional support animals do not have to be specially trained to be qualified, veterinarians in some cases have to vouch for the animal’s behavior. Airlines such as Delta have implemented a policy similar to United Airlines, which requires that veterinarians observe and vouch for the animal’s behavior before heading on board. The policy itself aims at protecting other passengers from animals that have unruly behavior. With this, the veterinarian must also provide their clients with a completed form containing the animal’s name, type, breed, weight, and dates of rabies and vaccinations. If the veterinarian states that the animal behaves enough to fly on board, then you’ll be able to travel abroad with your emotional support animal.
Updated August 2019: Based on an update provided by the DOT in 2019, the airlines can request this form from. However, if your vet does not want to attest to the behavior for your ESA, they are not required to.
What Can You Do to Get An ESA Letter?
Under the professional care of a mental health professional, such as a social worker, a therapist, or a psychologist they can recommend an ESA letter, stating that you require an emotional support animal for travel and/or living. According to Federal law, emotional support animals are only guaranteed access to airline travel and housing, not access to public spaces such as hotels, restaurants, and other places of goods and services. Only two laws specifically regulate and govern the rights of emotional support animals, which includes:
The FHA or Fair Housing Act allows service animals and emotional support animals to live with their people, regardless of any community or landlord restrictions.
The ACAA, or the Air Carrier Access Act, allows service animals and emotional support animals s to fly with their people.
As previously stated, veterinarians will have some say on how emotional support animals travel if the airline company requires it. However, with your rights, an ESA letter helps protect both you and your pet.
The first step towards getting an ESA letter is to know if you qualify for an emotional support animal. Because emotional support animals perform functions related to mental disabilities, such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, and bipolar disorder, your disability must be listed under the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to show the need for an ESA and thus, and ESA letter.
Next, you must connect with a licensed mental health professional. Below you can find a few examples of professionals that can qualify your pet as an emotional support animal:
Psychiatrists – Psychiatrists are licensed healthcare professionals with psychiatric training and can diagnose mental health conditions, treat and prescribe medications.
Psychologists – Psychologists hold a doctoral degree in clinical psychology and can evaluate a person’s mental health using interviews, evaluations, and testing.
Counselors, Clinicians, Therapists – These mental health professionals have masters degrees and are trained to evaluate a person’s mental health.
All of these mental health professionals have the qualifications to diagnose, treat, and essentially approve you for an ESA letter, because emotional support animals are considered to be tools for mental disabilities. Once you find and work with a mental health professional about your disability, you’ll be able to ask for an ESA letter and argue your case for needing an emotional support animal in your life. Once they approve, you have an ESA letter and have, essentially, an emotional support animal by your side.
Qualify for Your ESA Letter Online
Get the Love and Support you deserve!