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Emotional Support Animal

Laws Governing Emotional Support Animals Per State In America

 

One common problem that people with depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder have to deal with is disinterest in activities that they previously enjoyed. These people also like distancing themselves from others and live in their own world. This is why experts recommend that such individuals get Emotional Support Animals that offers them companionship.

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As the name suggests, Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) provide the support and company needed to alleviate the symptoms of emotional and mental illness. Their activeness also contributes to ensuring that their owners live a positive life. Simply put, ESAs are the go-to option for the mentally ill when everyone else abandons them.

Before obtaining an emotional support animal, it is vital to familiarize yourself with how they differ from normal household pets in various states of the USA. At a glance, there are special laws and privileges accorded to ESAs that do not apply to regular pets. 

As a law-abiding citizen, it is essential to know your rights and the rights of your emotional support animal. Keep on reading to discover how different states across the nation require their residents to treat emotional support animals. 

Chapter 1: An Introduction to Emotional Support Animals

Mental illness is among the leading health issues troubling Americans nowadays. Estimates show that at least one person in a group of six has a psychological condition that they know or do not know.

Regardless, these illnesses are known to affect the quality of the victims’ daily lives. The most widespread mental disorders are anxiety and depression.

However, there is a reprieve for people with these disorders, as research shows that pets can influence their lives positively. This is why you need an emotional support animal.

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Impact of ESAs

 

The Impact of ESAs on Your Life

Emotional support animals provide solace and comfort to people with mental and psychological health issues. For this reason, they are also called assistance animals. 

Here are the impacts that emotional support animals can have on your life.

  • They provide comfort and company to people with mental illnesses like anxiety and depression.
  • They relieve the symptoms of psychological health disorders.
  • They restore your interest in activities you loved before you were diagnosed with mental illness.
  • They help in establishing a connection with the outside world.
  • They make you active and more productive.

If you feel like mental illness is taking a toll on your well-being, you might want to acquire an emotional support animal.

These special pets can bring energy into your life and change how you view the world. This change in perspective can improve the quality of your life and put you on the right path to recovery.

Most Common Emotional Support Animals

The most significant difference between regular pets and ESAs is that the latter offers emotional and mental support. ESAs also help in relieving your symptoms and play a vital role in your recovery process.

If you do not have a pet with these qualities, you can obtain one from a reliable adoption agency.

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Here are some pets that can double up as emotional support animals.

  • Birds
  • Cats
  • Dogs
  • Hamsters
  • Miniature horses
  • Rabbits

Of the options mentioned above, most people like choosing cats and dogs. Some of the reasons behind this bias include ease of training and low-maintenance.

More importantly, cats and dogs are responsive to the feelings of their owners.

Chapter 2: Eligibility Criteria for An Emotional Support Animal

You must meet certain requirements to own an emotional support animal. Regardless of how much you love your pet, obtaining an ESA license is a demanding process.

The first and most crucial requirement is a document from a recognized medical institution showing that you are mentally ill and need an ESA to provide comfort and solace.

To qualify for an emotional support animal, you must have been diagnosed with at least one of the psychological health disorders as specified by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which include:

  • Anxiety
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder(ADHD)
  • Chronic stress
  • Depression
  • Intellectual impairment
  • Learning disabilities
  • Motor impairment
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder(OCD)
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Panic attack
  • Personality disorders
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD)

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Mental health experts usually recommend emotional support animals to their patients intending to speed up recovery. These disorders are often challenging, as the affected persons feel trapped in a vicious cycle of waking up, doing the same things over and again, and going back to sleep.

Chapter 3: Emotional Support Animal Laws

As mentioned above, emotional support animals are different from regular pets because they offer companionship and comfort to people with mental illness.

They are often recommended by licensed medical professionals after a person is diagnosed with psychological health disorders. Unlike other pets, ESAs have several legal privileges.

The two federal laws that protect people with emotional support animals are the Fair Housing Act and the Air Carrier Access Act.

1. Fair Housing Act (FHA)

The Fair Housing Act of 1988 stipulates that any person diagnosed with mental illness can live with their emotional support animal in their preferred residential property.

This protects ESA owners against discriminative property laws.

 

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The Fair Housing Act

 

Furthermore, the Fair Housing Act does not consider emotional support animals as pets. Instead, the animals are recognized as an assistive aid. The law further states that ESAs are essential for people with mental health issues.

Lastly, this act requires landlords to make arrangements such that their properties are accessible to individuals with mental illness and their emotional support animals.

However, you need to serve the property owner with an up-to-date ESA letter to enjoy this privilege.

2. Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA)

In the past, The Air Carrier Access Act granted people experiencing psychological health issues the permission to travel with their preferred emotional support animal.

People could carry the animal with them in the passenger cabin, provided they have an approved and up-to-date ESA letter signed by an accredited medical practitioner. 

 

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Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA)

 

But by the end of December 2020, ACAA changed its rules about traveling with an ESA. Only service dogs will be allowed to sit in the passenger’s cabin from now on. 

According to the ACAA, “a service animal is a dog, regardless of breed or type, that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.” 

So, emotional support animals are no longer considered service animals according to the new definition. 

The main catalyst behind the new law was the ever-increasing amount of untrained animals boarding the plane.

The new rule introduced by the Department of Transportation (DOT) clearly states that people wishing to fly with a service animal are required to fill out a form 48 hours prior to their flight time. A service animal should fit easily in the owner’s foot space on the plane.  

According to the new rules, an ESA may not be able to fly for free. The owner might be asked to pay some kind of fee, depending on the policies of the airline.

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Chapter 4: Emotional Support Animal Laws in the Different American States

While the two acts mentioned above are instituted by the federal government, different states across the country have unique laws regarding the handling and ownership of emotional support animals. That said, all dates agree upon the points below provided you have an approved ESA letter.

  1. A person can carry and sit next to their emotional support animal during flights.
  2. Mentally ill people can live with these animals in residential buildings that otherwise do not allow pets.
  3. The owner of the ESA must not pay additional charges to live with their pet in any building of their choice.

Now that you know the rules that apply to all states, let us look at how each individual state deals with emotional support animals ownership. The data is presented in tabular form to make understanding it easier. 

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State Travel Laws Housing Regulations Access to public areas (shopping malls, hospitals, cinemas, etc.) Access to educational institutions and workplaces
California ESAs will be treated as pets and be may be charged a fee depending on the airline policy Landlords cannot prohibit ESA owners from residing in their property ESAs are prohibited Administrative approval is required to bring ESAs to campus
Washington ESAs will be treated as pets and be may be charged a fee depending on the airline policy Landlords must allow ESA owners on their property without asking for additional money ESAs are prohibited ESAs are allowed in dorms provided they are well-behaved and do not threaten other students
New York ESAs will be treated as pets and be may be charged a fee depending on the airline policy Landlords must allow ESA owners on their property without asking for additional money ESAs are prohibited ESAs are allowed in dorms provided they are well-behaved and do not threaten other students
Chicago ESAs will be treated as pets and be may be charged a fee depending on the airline policy Landlords must allow ESA owners on their property without asking for additional money ESAs are prohibited ESAs are allowed in dorms provided they are well-behaved and do not threaten other students
Texas ESAs will be treated as pets and be may be charged a fee depending on the airline policy Landlords can choose to allow or prohibit ESA owners from living in their property ESAs are prohibited Administrative approval is required to bring ESAs to campus
Florida ESAs will be treated as pets and be may be charged a fee depending on the airline policy Landlords can choose to allow or prohibit ESA owners from living in their property ESAs are prohibited Administrative approval is required to bring ESAs to campus
Illinois ESAs will be treated as pets and be may be charged a fee depending on the airline policy Landlords must allow ESA owners on their property without asking for additional money ESAs are prohibited Administrative approval is required to bring ESAs to campus
Virginia ESAs will be treated as pets and be may be charged a fee depending on the airline policy Landlords can choose to allow or prohibit ESA owners from living in their property ESAs are prohibited ESAs are allowed in dorms provided they are well-behaved and do not threaten other students
Ohio ESAs will be treated as pets and be may be charged a fee depending on the airline policy Landlords must allow ESA owners on their property without asking for additional money ESAs are prohibited Administrative approval is required to bring ESAs to campus
Kansas ESAs will be treated as pets and be may be charged a fee depending on the airline policy Landlords can choose to allow or prohibit ESA owners from living in their property ESAs are prohibited ESAs are allowed in dorms but cannot enter classrooms
Oregon ESAs will be treated as pets and be may be charged a fee depending on the airline policy Landlords must allow ESA owners on their property without asking for additional money ESAs are prohibited ESAs are allowed in dorms provided they are well-behaved and do not threaten other students
Arizona ESAs will be treated as pets and be may be charged a fee depending on the airline policy Landlords must allow ESA owners on their property without asking for additional money ESAs are prohibited Administrative approval is required to bring ESAs to campus
Michigan ESAs will be treated as pets and be may be charged a fee depending on the airline policy Landlords can choose to allow or prohibit ESA owners from living in their property ESAs are prohibited ESAs are allowed in dorms but cannot enter classrooms
Nevada ESAs will be treated as pets and be may be charged a fee depending on the airline policy Landlords must allow ESA owners on their property without asking for additional money ESAs are prohibited Administrative approval is required to bring ESAs to campus
Utah ESAs will be treated as pets and be may be charged a fee depending on the airline policy Landlords can choose to allow or prohibit ESA owners from living in their property ESAs are prohibited Administrative approval is required to bring ESAs to campus
Oakland ESAs will be treated as pets and be may be charged a fee depending on the airline policy Landlords can choose to allow or prohibit ESA owners from living in their property ESAs are prohibited ESAs are allowed in dorms but cannot enter classrooms
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Must-Have New DOT Forms Before Traveling With an ESA

 

Taking a closer look at the data presented in the table above, it is evident that most states support ESAs. However, it is always commendable to contact relevant authorities to avoid problems. 

 

A Comparison Between ESA Laws and Service Animals Laws

Emotional support animals are different from service animals. The latter are distinct from ESAs because their primary function is assisting disabled people physically, while ESAs offer companionship to the mentally ill.

Moreover, service animals can access every place their owners go, while ESAs are prohibited in some places. 

For example, you need a permit from your boss to bring your ESA to the office. If you are lucky, they will allow you, but if you are not, you will have to find an alternative.

With service animals, you do not need permission from anyone. 

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Who Qualifies for an Emotional Support Animal?

Chapter 5: Emotional Support Animal Letter

A certified ESA letter is a proof that a mental health professional has diagnosed you with a psychological disorder and duly recommended an emotional support animal.

The letter also serves as a pass that enables you to live in your preferred residential unit without incurring additional charges.

It is useful to people who want to acquire new ESAs or transform their existing pets into emotional support animals. 

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Additionally, an ESA letter accords more privileges to your pet than a regular one would get.

Here is a systematic guide on how to obtain an emotional support animal letter. 

1. Book an Appointment

Before anything, book an appointment with a licensed mental health professional. Ensure that you research thoroughly before settling on a particular option.

Ideally, the person you choose should have accreditation from recognized bodies and positive reviews from previous clients. 

Because of the rising cases of mental illness, scammers are taking advantage of unknowing people by claiming to be licensed professionals. This underlines the importance of taking your time in research. 

After booking an appointment, try to arrive on time, whether it is a virtual or an in-person meeting.

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2. Be Frank

When meeting the doctor, do not be reluctant to share as much as you can about yourself. More specifically, feel free to share every detail about your daily life, with a particular focus on any mental health issues.

It might feel uncomfortable, but this information is crucial to helping the doctor make the right diagnosis of your condition. 

Your mental health doctor wants to hear all about the problems that are hindering you from enjoying your daily life and affecting your productivity.

It is worth noting that doctors are trained to uphold confidential patient information, meaning that you should not hold back when talking to them. 

After finishing the interview, the doctor will assess the information you shared to see whether you suffer from any of the conditions listed on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

If so, they will proceed to evaluate your suitability for an ESA before giving you a recommendation letter. This process also involves further discussions about the handling of emotional support animals.

 

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Factors To Consider While Choosing an ESA

3. Apply for an Emotional Support Animal Letter

If your licensed mental health professional recommends an emotional support animal, the next step is applying for an ESA letter. The application form is accessible online or at your therapist’s office.

It is advisable to ask your therapist to fill out the application form for you. However, they need to have a valid license. This applies to online and in-office psychotherapists. 

The following are must-have features of emotional support animal letters. 

  • An official letterhead
  • A confirmation that you are mentally ill and an ESA recommendation from a mental health professional
  • The name of your licensed mental health professional
  • The details of your emotional support animal
  • The letter’s date of issuance
  • The state where your mental health professional is licensed to operate

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4. Fill the Form

The next step involves filling the form provided by the licensed mental health professional. Ensure that you enter the right information about yourself, your mental health status, and the reason why an emotional support animal can help your situation. 

Some of the data you need to enter in this form include:

  • Your name
  • Physical address
  • State of residence
  • Email address
  • Your preferred emotional support animal
  • Services you intend to get from the emotional support animal

Besides, you will have to fill a questionnaire concerning your current mental state and how long you have experienced the problem. If you are taking any medications or other forms of therapy, you will need to share the information. 

Sharing false or inaccurate information reduces your chances of getting an approved emotional support animal letter. Try to be as honest as you can.

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5. Choose Your Preferred Emotional Support Animal

After filling the form, you will have to wait for approval. If the results are positive, it is time to choose your preferred emotional support animal.

You can opt to get a new one from adoption agencies or transform an existing household pet into an ESA.

Selecting the right emotional support animal can be a daunting task. It is crucial to choose an option that is easy to train, well-behaved, and more importantly, provides you with solace and companionship when others are gone.

Whatever you do, avoid going for a reptile as your ESA. This is because most reptiles are either dangerous or poisonous.

Experts recommend choosing a cat or a dog. They are beautiful, easy to handle, and are responsive to their owner’s feelings.

Even better, they are low-maintenance pets, and you can move them around conveniently. 

 

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Features of an ESA letter

 

Factors to Consider Before Taking an Emotional Support Animal Home

Here are some factors you need to consider before taking a pet home to offer you emotional support.

1. The Purpose of Getting the ESA

Do you want a furry friend to cuddle with on the sofa or you want an animal that calms your nerves? Every animal has distinctive behavior and plays a unique role in human life, so choosing the right that suits your needs is critical.

2. Affordability

Another important consideration when getting an emotional support animal is its affordability. Besides the initial cost of purchasing the animal, consider other expenses like pet food, vet services, and other maintenance services.

3. Does it Suit Your Way of Life?

Ensure that the emotional support animal you choose suits your lifestyle. For instance, if you spend little time at home, it would not be wise to pick a pet that gets bored quickly. Keep in mind that all animals require proper care and frequent exercising, regardless of your choice.

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4. What is Its Age?

Although animals are cute and lovely, try to choose one with the right age. For instance, younger pets are easier to train, but their activeness makes them unsuitable for people who want a quiet and peaceful life.  Conversely, it is more challenging to train older animals.

5. Are You Allergic?

Before you pick a particular animal, confirm that it does not harbor potential allergens. Otherwise, it might end up harming you instead of helping.

Other Considerations

Apart from the factors mentioned above, it is also crucial to consider the following when choosing a pet to become an emotional support animal.

  • Behavior – emotional support animals must obey your orders, and you should be able to control it. Pets with becoming mannerisms like excessive barking and biting should be red-flagged.
  • Cleanliness – landlords and airline carriers have the right to restrict access for you and your emotional support animal if you do not meet their high hygiene standards. Ensure that your pet is clean at all times.
  • Veterinary Checks – many people tend to overlook the importance of veterinary check-ups. These can help you know if the animal you are about to adopt has underlying health issues that might cost you later.

 

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Check-In Requirements for ESA Owners

Conclusion

Mental illness often makes the patient distanced from others, less productive, and disinterested in most of the worldly activities. If left untreated for extended periods, it affects the quality of life and induces suicidal feelings. The good thing about modern therapy is that you do not have to rely on others to make you happy – you can have animals do it for you. Emotional support animals can give you the companionship and comfort you need to start your path to recovery.

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You will be pleased to know that the federal government and all American states have two laws that safeguard the well-being of emotional support animals. These are the Air Carrier Access Act and the Fair Housing Act. 

The two acts mentioned above give emotional support animal privileges that are not afforded to regular household pets. With an ESA letter, you can live in a house of your choosing without incurring extra fees. The only exception to this rule is pets that act up or threaten those around you. 

It is essential to acquaint yourself with the laws that protect the interests of ESAs and their owners. This article explores how various states implement these rules. If you have any questions and comments concerning this subject, do not hesitate to leave them in the section below. 

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Categories
Emotional Support Animal

A Look At Emotional Support Animal Letter Sample

 

Many studies have been conducted on the role of pets in the lives of their owners or handlers.  For instance, from research published in the BMC Psychiatry journal, pets play an important therapeutic role when it comes to the mental health of their owners. But the extent, nature, and quality of emotional support provided by these animals may differ.

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Are you worried that you would have to leave your pet behind when you travel? Well, according to the law, emotional support animals, ESAs, are not house pets. You can travel or stay with them wherever you are. However, to unlock these benefits, you would need an emotional support animal letter.

Once the connection develops between the pet and the owner, then the subject starts to experience comfort, fewer effects of anxiety, and in some cases, quicker recovery. An emotional support animal can even help lower your stress levels, blood pressure` and also help you cope with a history of emotional trauma.

What Is an ESA letter?

An emotional support animal letter is a document that shows you have an ESA ‘prescription’. It should, therefore, be signed by a licensed mental health professional.

This letter also approves of the need of a subject to have a pet after being diagnosed with a mental health disorder. In the letter, you can find the reason why the person bearing it needs an ESA to live a full life or minimize some of the symptoms of a mental health condition.

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How Does the ESA Letter Help?

Some landlords designate their residential properties as ‘pet-free’. However, with an emotional animal support letter, you can live with your pet, as the law demands these landlords accommodate your ESA. Also, the letter allows you to travel with your pet in the passenger’s cabin.

And the good news is that the ESA handler does not have to pay extra fees for the airlines or housing access.

What Does an ESA Letter Need to Say?

As previously stated, the ESA letter needs to come from a licensed mental health professional. Once they diagnose an individual’s mental health condition, they can then recommend an emotional support animal.  And at first glance, you can tell what the letter addresses.

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How Do You Spot a Fake ESA Letter?

The letter should include the following:

  1. A date, not later than one year of submission
  2. Your therapist’s official letterhead
  3. The therapist’s license number, date, and the direct contact information for your therapist

Remember that a certificate of ownership may not be sufficient when you do not have an ESA letter.

An Emotional Support Animal Letter Sample

It is very easy to fall into the trap of con men pretending to offer these letters. However, if you have a rough idea of how the letter looks like, you have a better chance of avoiding a scam.

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And an emotional support animal letter sample is provided below:

 

Licensed Mental Health Professional’s Letterhead

Date

Doctor (or LMHP) Name

Address

To Whom It May Concern;

I am a licensed mental health professional and (YOUR NAME) is my patient, and is, and has been under my professional care since (DATE). I am familiar with the mental-related issues that (the patient’s first name) is facing. And since they limit him/her in coping with what is considered normal, I have prescribed an emotional support animal in (patient’s first name)’s life. The emotional support animal provides relief that is not available in traditional medication.

According to the DSM-V of the Diagnostics and the Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders, (YOUR NAME) exhibits mental health challenges that fit the criteria for Americans Living with Disability (ADA). Therefore, he/she qualifies for an emotional support animal. Please allow (YOUR NAME) to be accompanied by his/her emotional support animal in the passenger cabin in the aircraft, in accordance with the Air Carrier Access Act (49 USC 41705 and 14 CFR 382) and in the apartment, according to the Fair Housing Act (FHA).

If you have any further questions, contact me at (email address of the LMHP)

Animal:

Animal Name:

Certification ID number:

Issue Date:

Expiration Date:

Sincerely

Signature of the Professional

Name of the Professional

Licensed by the state of (STATE)

License Type:

License Number:

Date of Issuance:

Expiration Date:

How Do You Spot a Fake ESA Letter?

You can get an emotional support animal letter online. However, many websites are using this opportunity to publish false advertisements. They promise lower prices, only for you to find out that the letter is fake.

The good news is that you can easily distinguish a real and valid letter from a fake one. All you need to do is to follow the steps outlined below to avoid a scam.

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Mental Health Benefits of ESA Pets

1. Research

Doing a little bit of research on the doctor, website, or clinic offering their services online could go a long way in saving you from a scam. Check whether the medical health professionals have the appropriate and valid license.

2. Check the license

Finding out whether someone is licensed to write you an ESA letter is simple. For instance, The Talk Space Voice has given guidelines on how to verify the license of your therapist.

3. Check their Credentials

A legitimate emotional support animal letter contains some necessary credentials that are absent in a fake letter. These details include:

  • The official letterhead
  • Type of emotional support animal
  • Name of the animal
  • Certificate ID number of the animal to be registered.

4. Payment Method

Ever visited a website and a red alert showed you that the website was insecure? Well, this is a helpful tool when it comes to determining the safety of the payment method used by these service providers. When you visit a professional’s payment website:

  • The address link should have an ‘HTTP’ address with a padlock on it
  • The word ‘Secure’ shows that the link is safe
  • The padlock should be green in color to prove it is safe for an online payment

If the payment profile fails to meet any of the three conditions mentioned above, it is unsafe and could be a fraudulent website.

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Laws That Protect Emotional Support Animal Owners

Two laws protect the owners of emotional support animals with their landlords and airlines. These laws are the Fair Housing Act(FHA) and the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA).

1. Fair Housing Act

Under this act, landlords must provide reasonable accommodations to tenants who own emotional support animals. And according to this law, ESAs are not ordinary pets. Therefore, even buildings with ‘NO PET’ policy must comply with the US Department of Housing’s guidelines to accommodate ESA owners.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits landlords from discriminating against tenants who need emotional support animals in their lives. Also, the law states that no extra charges should be imposed on the tenants owning ESAs.

2. Air Carrier Access Act

Under the ACAA, owners of emotional support animals can travel with their pets in the passenger’s cabin at no extra cost. The ACA Act grants people living with a disability the right to travel in the company of their emotional support animals.

Once you provide the airline personnel with necessary documents proving why you need emotional support or psychiatric service animal, then you can travel with your ESA in your cabin for no extra fees. The ACAA prohibits airline operators from discriminating against passengers with mental or physical health challenges.

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Benefits of Shopping With Your ESA

Benefits of Getting an Emotional Support Animal Letter

Mental health challenges are as tough as they come. And mostly, patients have to endure the pain, stress, depression, anxiety, and PTSD that come with these health problems.

If getting an emotional support animal can help you calm your thoughts and cope with the symptoms, then you should get yourself an emotional support animal letter from a licensed mental health professional. Some of the benefits you can enjoy from getting the letter include:

1. Better traveling experience

Your emotional support animal letter allows you to board airplanes and travel with your pet in your cabin for no extra cost. As stipulated in the Air Carrier Access Act, you should call the airline company you plan to travel with at least 48 hours beforehand to inform them of your situation.

At the airport, you should also provide the airline authorities with legal documents approving your ownership of the ESA. Some of these documents include:

  • US Department of Transportation Service Animal Air Transportation Health Form
  • A US Department of Transportation Service Animal Relief Attestation
  • US Department of Transportation Service Animals Air Transport Behavior and Training Attestation Form
  • Medical professional’s authorization containing their license number, the signature, the date, type of mental health professional license they hold, and the state or jurisdiction in which they operate

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2. Rent a house freely

According to the FHA, any person holding an emotional support animal letter should not have to pay extra to stay with a pet. Therefore, you can choose the housing of your choice without any fear of discrimination.

And if the house has a No-Pet policy, the landlord should arrange to accommodate your emotional support animal.  However, you need to show your letter of recommendation from a licensed mental health professional to the apartment management.

3. Have a better shopping experience

Many supermarkets prohibit pets in their stores. However, an emotional support animal is no ordinary pet. And once you have a letter showing why you need the ESA, you can say goodbye to the anxiety and panic that stops you from shopping in your favorite store.

The emotional support animal helps you cope with your fears in these public outlets, making your shopping experience better. And although the law states no discrimination whatsoever, it is always good to call ahead and ask for approval from the owners before taking your pet along.

4. No more loneliness

People struggling with mental health conditions find it hard to create personal connections. Whether it’s due to anxiety, depression, or panic attacks, you could end up feeling lonely. And when you have to be in a public space, the symptoms could worsen.

However, by acquiring an emotional support animal letter from your legally registered and licensed therapist, you can say goodbye to the loneliness.

The letter allows you to go anywhere with your emotional support animals, which are great companions.

5. A healthy mind

Feeling alone and not being able to cope with the symptom of a mental health disorder can be dangerous for the mind.

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Get ESA Letter

However, with research proving the impact of pets on these patients, an emotional support animal could be the light in the dark for stressed and depressed people.

Once you have an ESA in your treatment plan, you can better manage your symptoms, which gives you a sense of control over your mental health.

They give you support, comfort, and intimacy, which promote a more active, healthier, and productive life. And at the end of it all, you get a healthier mind free from all the burden of depression, anxiety, and stress.

The Takeaway

An emotional support animal is a type of assistance animal deemed necessary for people facing a mental or physical disability. And according to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, under the federal Fair Housing Act, the emotional support animal is no ordinary pet.

The government, through the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Department of Transportation, has put in place laws to help protect these people from discrimination.

However, to gain access to these privileges, you need to show that you are authorized to own an ESA.

Any legally licensed mental health professional can provide you with an emotional support animal letter.

But, with the internet availing access to people of all kinds, it is possible to fall into a trap. You find people pretending to be licensed professionals offering these letters at lower prices. Take a cautious approach to such websites and do some research to avoid a scam.

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Learn to spot the differences between a legit and fake ESA letter. As shown in the emotional support animal letter sample provided in this piece, make sure you can quickly tell the license number, type of license, the issuance and expiry dates of the license, the professional’s letterhead, and the ID number of the ESA to be registered.

Remember to check the safety of the website before filling in your details. Finally, an ESA letter only lasts for a year. Remember to renew your letter to avoid inconveniences at your residency or the airport. 

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Categories
Emotional Support Animal

How to Register Your Dog as an ESA? A Step-by-step Guide

 

Emotional Support Animals offer a host of therapeutic benefits to their owners. They provide comfort, speed up recovery, and reduce the effects of anxiety attacks. These animals do not require extensive training, and any animal that is a source of comfort and contentment to its owner can become an Emotional Support Animal. However, most people choose cats or dogs as Emotional Support Animals. 

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If you want an animal to become your Emotional Support Animal, you must acquire an Emotional Support Animal Letter from a licensed medical health professional (LMHP).

In this article, we will guide you step by step on how to register your dog as an Emotional Support Animal (ESA).

1. Introducing an Emotional Support Dog

Have you spotted more pet dogs, even in areas where pets are prohibited? You may be wondering what’s the reason behind this. Well, the answer is a relatively simple one.

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There is a high likelihood that these are emotional support dogs that offer support to their owners. An emotional support dog is not your average dog.

These dogs have been registered as Emotional Support Animals and are tasked with helping their owners cope mentally and emotionally. 

Though there are various types of Emotional Support Animals, emotional support dogs are the most sought-after since they can be trained to obey the commands of their owners and are quite sensitive. Hence they can pick up even the slightest signal that something is wrong with their owner.

What Is The Difference Between An Emotional Support Dog and a Service Dog?

An emotional support dog is often confused with a service dog. A service dog undergoes rigorous training to help their owners with physical tasks. An emotional support dog, on the other hand, offers comfort and companionship to people who need emotional or mental support.

ESA vs Service Animals
Emotional Support Animal vs Service Animals

2. Evaluate Your Symptoms

John Wooden, America’s famous basketball player, and coach, once said, “Without proper self-evaluation, failure is inevitable.” So, to start your journey towards the path to recovery, self-evaluation is critical. Here are some questions to guide you;

  • Do you feel nervous when you are in public places and hence avoid them?
  • Do you worry excessively?
  • Do you experience frequent nightmares? 
  • Does remembering past events trigger you?
  • Do you feel numb or emotionally detached?
  • Do your mental or emotional issues negatively affect your daily life?
  • Does it affect your relationships?
  • Do you feel lonely most of the time?
  • Do you experience severe mood swings? 
  • Have you lost interest in activities that you previously enjoyed? 
  • Are you scared of traveling alone?
  • Has your sleeping cycle or routine been affected; Are you sleeping more or less than usual?
  • Do you easily get distracted?

If your answer to most of the questions above is yes, it’s critical that you urgently find a qualified and licensed mental health professional near you and book an appointment. 

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3. Find a Qualified and Licensed Mental Health Professional

After you have completed the self-evaluation, the next step is reaching out for professional help. You should never take your mental health for granted. Take your time and search for the best licensed mental health professional to help reclaim your mental health.

Follow The Tips Below To Find The Best Mental Health Professional

  • Make use of the internet and search online for the best therapist near you.
  • Ask for recommendations for a great therapist from your family and friends.
  • Check out reviews and customer testimonials for various therapists so that you know what to expect.
  • Go through the websites of various therapists and assess their profiles.

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4. Make an Appointment With a Licensed Medical Healthcare Professional (LMHP)

Now that you have found an experienced and licensed healthcare professional, it’s important that you make an appointment immediately. There are two main ways to consult with the therapist of your choice; Online and face to face.

  • Online Consultations

Everything can be done online these days; including consulting with a healthcare professional. Online consultation is quite convenient for people who don’t feel comfortable seeking help for their mental issues with their doctor or therapist in person.

If you fall in this category you can search for the best licensed medical health professional who you can book an appointment with and can sign an emotional support letter online.

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Ways to consult with the therapist
  • Face to Face Consultations

If you are successful in finding a good and certified doctor or therapist, you should not hesitate to book an appointment with them in their office.

The greatest advantage of face to face consultation is that you develop a bond with your therapist. This makes it easier for them to understand your mental and emotional state. 

5. Explain to Your Therapist in Detail Your Need for an Emotional Support Dog

Once you meet with your doctor or therapist, you must be open to discussing your mental or emotional health. It would be best if you don’t become uneasy if your doctor asks you to open up about your mental health issues. 

It’s critical that you share every detail however small. The sole purpose of this session is for your therapist to assess your emotional and mental state. Open up about what you are going through and any symptoms that you may be experiencing.

Trust your doctor or therapist because they are trained to uphold confidentiality and are prohibited from disclosing any information that you share with them.

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During this session with your doctor, some important details that you must disclose include:

  • Your Disabilities

You should be totally open with your doctor about any emotional or mental disabilities that are hindering you from living a normal life. Explain to them how an emotional support dog would be the right companion for you and how it may help with the emotional and mental disabilities you are experiencing.

Based on the severity of your mental and emotional disabilities, your doctor will recommend the best Emotional Support Animal for you. 

  • Share About Your Lifestyle

Talk to your doctor about your life and lifestyle. This will include your family, friends, and routine. Talk to them about any medication that you are currently taking or that was prescribed in the past.

Tell them how you feel when surrounded by people and how an emotional support dog can steer you towards recovery.

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  • Discuss Your Mood Swings

You should discuss with your doctor or therapist even about the minutest change in your mood or attitude. People suffering from emotional and mental disorders tend to be moody and lock themselves away from people.

Tell your doctor why you think having an emotional support dog will help you deal with your mood swings.

  • Discuss Your Fear of Being Alone

You should disclose to your doctor or therapist your fear of being alone and how you can benefit from having an emotional support dog. Talk to your doctor about your need for a companion to prevent you from thinking about past events that may trigger stress, anxiety, and depression.

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Important Details to disclose To Your Therapist

6. Register Your Dog

Most people have little or no information about registering their dog as an Emotional Support Animal. Although it’s not always necessary to register your dog as an Emotional Support Animal, there are a host of websites that will ask you to register your pet and get certifications. Some of these websites will lure you into paying quite an amount so they can issue you with a certificate for your dog, ID card, and vest. 

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You should always be aware of scammers. The only way you can register your dog as an emotional support dog is by applying for an Emotional Support Animal letter and having it approved and signed by a licensed medical health professional.

Beware of websites that want to scam you.

7. Apply for an Emotional Support Animal Letter

After a successful consultation with your therapist, and he establishes that you need an Emotional Support Animal, you can go ahead and acquire an ESA letter. It’s quite easy to apply for an Emotional Support Letter for your dog. There are two ways you can apply for an ESA letter for your dog:

  • Ask Your Therapist

After evaluating you, your therapist will understand your need for an emotional support dog. If your therapist is a licensed medical health professional (LMHP), he can write and sign an Emotional Support Animal Letter for your dog.

An Emotional Support Animal Letter can only be signed by a doctor, psychologist, psychiatrist, counselor, a clinical or social worker.

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  • Ask an Online Therapist

Another way to get an Emotional Support Animal Letter is by finding a legit online site that provides ESA letters signed by certified and licensed therapists.

An online site that claims to provide you with a legit ESA letter will ask you to fill a form that will require you to fill out the following information.

  • Your name
  • Address
  • State
  • Email
  • Your preferred ESA
  • Services you seek to get from an ESA

When you are done filling the form, you will then be asked to fill a questionnaire. This questionnaire includes questions concerning your mental and emotional health. This will help your doctor or therapist understand the severity of your mental and emotional issues. Make sure you provide accurate information. Filling the form with false or inaccurate information will only jeopardize the chances of your application being approved.

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How To Register Your Dog as an ESA

Afterward, an online consultation will be held with a Licensed Mental Health Professional (LMHP) to evaluate your mental health status. If he/she finds your mental condition requiring emotional support, they will issue you an ESA Letter.

Before settling on a website, make sure to check the credentials of the doctor and clinic. Many fraudulent sites are looking to make money by claiming they provide ESA letters at ‘low prices’; don’t fall for such tactics.

8. Select the Best Breed for an Emotional Support Dog

Choosing an emotional support dog is a meticulous task. It’s critical that you not only choose a dog that can support you emotionally but that is also relatively easy to handle and look after. Therefore, we’ve shortlisted some highly recommended breeds of emotional support dogs.

  • Golden Retriever

Professionals agree that golden retrievers are the best breed for emotional support dogs. They are a highly affectionate, smart, loving, and patient dog breed that is highly suitable for families. Thus, they tick all the boxes for being a great emotional support dog.

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  • Labrador Retrievers

Labradors are one of the most sought after breeds for emotional support dogs. They are gentle, smart, and comfortable in most situations and places. Labs are highly recommended as emotional support dogs.

  • Collies

Collies are herding dogs, which means they have a natural instinct to look out for their ‘herd,’ thus making them lovable companions to have around. Being naturally, a herding dog enables this breed to sense any change in behavior.

The Collie immediately makes sure a person in distress is taken care of. However, this breed does require a bit of physical exercise, which can also the owner keep fit.

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  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

This dog breed is like a huggable toy. King Charles Spaniel is excellent at cuddling and makes sure to keep their owners engaged in a lot of playtimes. With their gentle and calm nature, these dogs make great Emotional Support Dogs.

  • Yorkshire Terrier

Despite being small in size, Yorkies are highly affectionate dogs that require a lot of attention, but always make sure to shower their human with loads of love. They are perfect companions for travel and are known for adapting well to different situations.

  • Corgi

Though this breed is often hailed as being the favorite of the Royal Queen, it is also one of the most affectionate dog breeds. Their ability to appropriately get along with both children and adults is often lauded. Though Corgis require a lot of mental and physical exertion from their owner, they are a valuable breed.

  • American Staffordshire Terrier

Despite having bad press and reputation, these gentle giants are just that. The Staffordshire Terrier is a very gentle breed that is extremely loyal to its owners. With proper training and upbringing, these dogs can make excellent emotional support dogs.

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  • Chihuahua

These tiny dogs are rather energetic, but they can be trained to respond properly to commands. Due to their fun and energetic personality, they are perfect for playing and cuddling with and will provide comfort to their owner both emotionally and mentally.

  • German Shepherd

This is a breed that is happy when working. Thus, by properly training a German Shepherd you can have a very lovable, calm, affectionate, loyal, and fearless companion that responds well to various situations.

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Best Breeds for an Emotional Support Dog
  • Irish Wolfhound

Irish Wolfhounds are naturally sensitive, which means they easily pick up on changes in their owner’s behavior or health.

With their natural tendency to protect, this breed is perfect as an emotional support dog. However, one thing to bear in mind with this breed is that it only lives for about six to eight years, which can be challenging for people who develop a strong attachment to their pets.  

Benefits of Getting Your Dog Registered as Your ESA

Once you have successfully registered your dog as an Emotional Support Animal, you can look forward to the many benefits that this dog can avail you. Listed below are some of the things you may experience once you register your dog.

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1. Traveling With an Emotional Support Dog

Once you have successfully registered your dog as an Emotional Support Animal, it will be permitted to accompany you everywhere, including a plane’s passenger cabin. That means that the two of you can travel easily.

However, it is essential to note that your Emotional Support Dog should be trained for traveling since it can be inconvenient if it starts acting out. Under The Air Carrier Access Act (ACCA), your Emotional Support Animal can travel for free with you.

2. Housing Facilities

Some landlords forbid tenants from living with dogs. However, once your emotional support dog has been registered as an ESA, it’s allowed to live in your house with you.

Your emotional support dog will be protected by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1998. Under this law, an Emotional Support Animal, or in your case, an emotional support dog, is allowed to stay with its owner, without any pet fee charges.

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Benefits of an ESA Letter

3. Less Loneliness

It has been proven, time and again, that having a furry companion by your side can significantly bolster your emotional and mental well-being. This also applies to loneliness.

Having an emotional support dog beside you ensures that you always have a friend who is willing to listen and never judge you. They provide a sense of comfort and love to people who struggle with opening up to their peers.

4. Calming Effects

 An emotional support dog is a trusted companion. Sometimes, when people who are experiencing emotional issues become anxious, a trusted companion is all they need to neutralize the effect of an anxiety or panic attack. Dogs are naturally sensitive, and emotional support dogs are perfect for this.

5. Physical Effects

 Though emotional support dogs are mostly recognized for the emotional and mental support they offer their owners, it is worth noting that they also help their owners stay physically active and fit.

At the end of the day, an emotional support dog is a dog, and every pet needs some form of exercise and playtime. By helping their owners engage in play, emotional support dogs not only help their owners take their minds off difficult issues but also help them keep fit and healthy.

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Conclusion

Waking up every day, wishing to accomplish tasks but failing to fulfill your own expectations can be challenging if you suffer from an emotional or mental disorder. Luckily, today, you can have an emotional support dog to get you through the day.

Dogs are considered as man’s best friend. Don’t hesitate to get your dog registered as an Emotional Support Animal today. Then you can enjoy a stress-free and productive life with them. Never take your emotional and mental health for granted.

You can choose the best dog breed to become your emotional support dog, or you can register your own dog as an emotional support dog and enjoy the many privileges that come with the title.

You and your dog will be allowed to travel and live together once you have an approved and signed ESA letter. So, what are you waiting for? Get your dog registered as an Emotional Support Animal today!

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Emotional Support Animal Emotional support dogs ESA ESA and mental health ESA pet ESA Reviews

ESA vs Service Animals: Solving the Greatest Conflict!

 

Caring about animal welfare is the compassionate thing to do. That’s because animal ownership brings forth new responsibilities. At the same time, it’s essential that you understand how those responsibilities are defined in the law.

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Pets are our greatest companions in the animal kingdom. As such, there are numerous physical and emotional benefits associated with animals. However, many pet owners try to skirt laws by falsely claiming their animal is an ESA or a service animal in an effort to save money. This is the reason why many people have asked to revise the ADA to avoid any confusion.

So, why is there so much confusion between service animals and Emotional Support Animals?

Hidden field

Emotional support animals (ESA) and service animals serve a higher purpose other than being a regular house pet. While both serve humans, ESAs and service dogs are often confused.

The two terms differ with respect to the roles the animals play and your legal rights as the owner. Yes, there are different laws covering the rights of Emotional Support Dogs and Service Dogs. While Emotional Support Animals and Service Animals are covered by federal statute, they are specifically and individually covered by different laws.

You should check your state’s law and follow the law that offers the most protection for service animals. While the laws governing ESAs and Service Animals are different, they are both key assets for many people.

This article provides guidance on the laws that govern service animals and ESAs. Read on to learn which animals qualify as Service Animals or as ESAs.

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1. ESA VS. Service Animals

It is important to take into account the differences between ESAs and Service Animals. A number of animals can qualify as an ESA. However, a shortlist of animals can become Service Animals under federal law. Here is a brief introduction of Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals.

Emotional Support Animals (ESA)

There are many benefits to having a dog, from getting yourself out for exercise to receiving loyal companionship. However, animals can also provide emotional support for people with mental health concerns.

Emotional Support Animals are one way to provide ongoing support to individuals with a serious depressive disorder. They bring comfort and minimize the negative symptoms of the person’s emotional or psychological disability.

Unlike service dogs, these animals require no special training. Furthermore, the assistance animal is not a pet, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

ESA vs Service Animals
Emotional Support Animal vs Service Animals

Similarly, in order for your animal to be accepted as an ESA, you must have an Emotional Support Animal Letter from a licensed health official. As a result, ESAs are protected under federal laws in housing situations with no-pet policies.

However, some state governments have regulations that allow people to take Emotional Support Animals to many places.

The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) allows for Emotional Support Animals for any person that has a disability. These animals are always allowed to accompany their owners in any public or private transportation vehicle or facility.

Common ESAs

Any domesticated animal can potentially qualify as an Emotional Support Animal. However, ESAs are typically dogs and cats. Some of the other common Emotional Support Animals include:

  • Horses
  • Rabbits
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Reptiles
  • Birds

Any animal you choose must be under your control. This means no barking, running around, or jumping in public.

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Service Animals

A service animal is any animal that is trained to perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability. They can also calm someone with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack.

This training could be done by an organization, but it does not have to be under the ADA.

Service animals are sometimes called helper animals or support animals. They are also usually paired with one particular person, often for life.

A support animal can be any reasonable animal, although most airlines don’t accept anything but a dog, mini horse, or cat. Most often, it’s dogs that are used as service animals due to their relatively high intelligence. Common service dog breeds can range from very small to very large.

Federal regulations allow for a comprehensive definition of service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In September 2010, a final rule was published to amend the service animal definition to be limited to dogs.

Consequently, cats, monkeys, snakes, rabbits, or other types of animals are not considered service animals under DOJ’s rules. Furthermore, dogs whose only role is to offer emotional support or comfort do not qualify as service animals.

It is also important for staff members at establishments such as restaurants to know how they can properly verify a service dog. The staff members need to look at the specific service animal to determine if it poses a threat to the health or safety of other people.

Examples of such establishments are hotels, restaurants, bars, movie theaters, and sports stadiums.

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2. Specific Services Offered by Emotional Support Animals and Service Animals

Service dogs and ESAs all fulfill essential roles in their aid to humans. Both ESAs and service animals fall under the same category when it comes to their rights, but there are a few differences.

For instance, relevant laws, health factors, appropriate facilities, and cultural expectations will vary. Nevertheless, the task of a service or ESA animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability.

Emotional Support Animals

An Emotional Support Animal does nothing but offer comfort to their owner; therefore, they are of very little use to people who have some sort of physical disability. ESAs aid the psychologically disabled to cope better with their disability. Some of these disabilities include:

  • Anxiety Attack

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States. An anxiety attack is a feeling of overwhelming apprehension, worry, distress, or fear. It causes increased alertness, fear, and physical signs, such as a rapid heart rate. Anxiety disorders can also make it hard to breathe, sleep, and stay still.

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Benefits of ESA

Experiencing occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. However, for a person with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety does not go away. It’s no wonder then that many people are moving toward more holistic approaches to treatment, such as getting Emotional Support Animals.

Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) are perfect for people in distress. ESAs for anxiety improve the lives of those who experience feelings of fear and worry. For those dealing with depression, they can be especially important for improving the quality of life and health.

Other benefits of being with ESAs include:

  • less fear
  • better mood
  • better social interactions

The main focus is to provide complete comfort to the patient.

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  • Mental Disabilities

Animals can play a very important role in assisting people with mental disabilities. ESAs help individuals with mental disabilities by providing comfort and support. Research has shown that having an Emotional Support Animal increases levels of oxytocin and reduces levels of mental illness.

Therefore, if you are suffering from mental illnesses, the comforting presence of an ESA can truly make your road to recovery easier.

  • PTSD

PTSD is a mental health problem that’s caused by a terrifying occurrence— either being affected by it or witnessing it. Someone with PTSD often relives the traumatic event through nightmares and flashbacks and may cause clinically significant distress or impairment in the person’s social interactions.

The condition was first recognized in war veterans and has been known by a variety of names.

Counseling, cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), or medication helps to treat PTSD. However, if you are suffering from PTSD, you may find that an ESA is a good addition to your therapy program.

The love and support of an ESA is especially important because your friends and family members may have trouble understanding your condition.

According to the ADA, ESAs can calm a person with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack. These companion pets can also alleviate the symptoms of an individual’s disability.

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  • Depression

Depression is an emotional state punctuated by feelings of guilty and self-loathing. It is often marked by a loss of interest or constant sadness.

This can cause severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities. Some people experience these feelings for long periods and sometimes without any obvious reason.

In the US, depression affects roughly 6.7% of the population over 18 years of age. With proper diagnosis and treatment, the vast majority of people with depression will overcome it. However, some people can recover from depression by getting an Emotional Support Animal.

ESAs may offer a more affordable way of improving symptoms of depression. This is due to the fact that animals have an amazing ability to lift your spirit just by being there.

This can also dramatically improve your overall mental health and decrease the debilitating effect of depression.

  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

OCD is a common, chronic, and long-lasting disorder in which you have unwanted thoughts or sensations that make you feel driven to do something repetitively. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder can affect men, women, and children. However, it usually begins in late childhood or early adolescence.

Believe it or not, there is an emotional support dog for individuals suffering from OCD. Evidence suggests that the presence of ESAs can reduce the subjective experience of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Something as simple as being greeted by a happy dog with a wagging tail can help alleviate OCD symptoms. Similarly, dogs can increase your neurochemicals like dopamine through bonding and love.

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Service Animals

Right now, only dogs and very occasionally miniature horses can be considered service animals. These animals serve many purposes, including:

1. Physical Disabilities

  • Mobility Impairments

Service animals can carry and pick up objects for individuals with mobility impairments. They can also help a person with poor balance and assist those who use wheelchairs. However, these service animals must be in your control at all times by leash and/or harness.

Service Animals
Service Animals Services
  • Diabetes

Service dogs are able to help those with diabetes, thanks to their heightened sense of smell. These service animals can detect hypoglycemia and inform you or others to treat it. In particular, they can tell you if your blood sugar is dropping, and they can also retrieve diabetes test kits or medications.

This allows you to take the proper steps to return your blood sugar to a normal healthy range.

  • Allergies

Anyone with respiratory anaphylaxis can benefit from having a service dog. Generally, service dogs are used when an allergy severely impacts your well being.

These dogs can aid you by checking areas for traces of nuts, in particular, peanuts, walnuts, and cashew nuts. The dog can also indicate the presence of the allergen upon entering a new environment.

  • Cardiac and Respiratory Disabilities

Service animals are trained specifically to detect shifts in heart rhythm and blood flow. They can also detect lower or higher sugar, serotonin levels, and other hormonal changes too. They can then issue a quick alert signal when you are experiencing or about to experience a  hyperglycemic or hypoglycemic episode.

This advance warning allows the individual to take essential medication, lie down, or rest. Moreover, service dogs can be an enormous consolation and source of stress reduction during heart attacks.

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2. Sensory and Neurological Disabilities

  • Autism

Service dogs can provide emotional support and physical safety for children with autism. They help them improve social interactions and relationships, and improve nonverbal and verbal communication skills. By increasing this type of interaction, the child with autism receives more verbal stimulation.

They can also provide deep pressure therapy and act as a deterrent for self-harm.

  • Epilepsy

Service dogs provide protection and relief to those who suffer from seizure disorders. These animals can perform a wide range of epileptic tasks, including barking to alert caregivers when a seizure occurs.

They can also alert others, protect the person, and help them as they recover from the seizure. Moreover, they can detect oncoming seizures and provide assistance during an attack.

  • Visual Disability

Many blind people can’t get around without the help of a well-trained service animal. Generally, there are over a dozen different specializations for service dogs.

These dogs are trained to guide you around obstacles, such as other people, potholes, and telephone poles. They can also enhance your independence by helping with tasks such as pulling a wheelchair and turning light switches. As a bonus, service dogs may also lead to positive interaction with other people.

  • Hearing Disability

A service animal that aids deaf people is also known as a ‘hearing dog.’ Service dogs are usually trained to help people who are deaf or have a hearing loss. The most important thing a hearing dog offers its handler is an increased awareness of his or her environment.

That’s because they are naturally attentive to noises in their environment and can react calmly to unfamiliar sounds.

Service dogs can alert their deaf handlers by making physical contact and then directing them to the sound’s location. For these dogs to work effectively, they must have access to many places. That’s why service animals must be given access to almost everywhere their human handlers go.

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3. The Training Process of Service Animals and ESAs

Training a dog to become a service animal doesn’t happen overnight. Read on to know the differences between the training process of an emotional support animal and a service animal. 

Emotional Support Animals

Emotional Support Animals do not require any specialized training. They do not have any particular schools or institutions where they get training for being an ESA. Although Emotional Support Animals do not have to be as highly trained as service animals, poorly trained ESAs are a threat to the health, safety, and function of people and themselves.

Normally, tailoring training programs for all kinds of animals exist to meet each person’s individual needs. Either way, the main training requirement seems to be that the animal is domesticated and provides a service to its handler.

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Benefits of ESA

Though the exact requirements of each test vary, most of them require that the animal is screened for its ability to interact favorably with humans and other animals. An ESA is trained to be friendly, patient, confident, gentle, and at ease in all situations.

Handlers of ESAs must also have the skills and confidence required to include their animals in their daily practice and in a manner that is safe.

Service Animals

Before taking your service dog for training, you must show a disability diagnosis certificate from a licensed physician stating that a service animal will assist you with your disability. The international standard is 120 hours for a minimum of six months or more.

There isn’t a set requirement for hours in the U.S., but a period of over six months is preferred. Moreover, the costs can vary widely for owner service dog training.

These highly trained dogs do a wide range of assignments that allow their handlers to have greater hope, independence, and freedom. Depending on your preferences, your service animal can undergo training for mobility assistance and medical assistance.

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Should you choose to enroll your pet, a trainer will evaluate it. This is meant to gauge whether the animal can master the complex behaviors required for public access and advanced training.

The animals can be taught to open doors, pick items up off the floor, and retrieve a phone if you fall. The dog can also be trained to detect an anxiety attack long before it happens and alert you to take medications.

Highly trained service animals work for their owners with a number of services, such as:

  • Sniff out illegal drugs, explosives, blood, human remains, and more.
  • Alert their handlers to important sounds, including doorbells and knocks on the door.
  • Possess a stable, even temperament without anxiety and reactivity.
  • Bring medication or water to help swallow medication.
  • calm an individual who suffers from PTSD, and even dial 911 in the event of an emergency.
  • Open/close doors, drawers, and refrigerators.
  • Pick up dropped items.
  • Provide a focal point when situations become difficult to cope with.
  • Turning Lights On.
  • Turning Lights Off.
  • Deposit Garbage Into Can.
  • Carry Mail From Mailbox to House.
  • Smell the chemical body changes that occur as insulin levels increase or drop.
  • Alert the person or the caregivers to take action when a panic attack occurs.

Some breeds are particularly effective because they tend to remain in constant physical contact. However, there are a number of issues that you should be aware of. For instance, a diabetic alert service dog is never 100% accurate.

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4. Adoption Process of Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals

The process of adopting a service animal or an ESA is time-consuming, but it’s a worthwhile task. Therefore, make sure to allow for plenty of time to get the adoption process completed.

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The qualifications for adoption don’t all center around floor-to-ceiling checklists. Instead, each adoption agency has its own requirements. Additionally, each state has its own unique service animal and ESA adoption laws.

Here’s how the process works.

Emotional Support Animals (ESAs)

It’s important to know what to look for when adopting an emotional support animal. Therefore, start by conducting research as certain breeds are better suited for emotional support than others. Generally, there are many different types of therapy animals to choose from.

If you are mostly immobile, a cat may be the best choice since you won’t have to walk it.

Most people choose to adopt a dog. However, with so many choices on offer, deciding on a breed isn’t always easy. When choosing a dog, consider what type suits you best. Some of the most adorable ESA dogs are purebreds, while others are mixed-breeds. 

At the same time, you have to visualize what your life would look like with your dog. Will, your dog be left home alone for long periods? Remember that if you just choose a dog that you find cute, you may end up with an unsuitable dog.

The next step is to find an eligible animal service provider. Choosing a service animal provider can be one of the most critical decisions that you make in your ESA’s life.

ESA Benefits
Health Benefits of ESA dog

When choosing an animal service provider, you must focus on getting someone that you and your animal are comfortable with. Next, you will need to complete and submit an application with all the required supporting documents attached.

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Service Animals

Finding out if you qualify or don’t qualify for a service dog can be a difficult task. That’s because there are lots of meanings of the term disability and service animals. For instance, not every physical disability automatically qualifies an individual for a service animal.

Either way, you must have a diagnosed physical or mental disability, or a neurological disorder affecting at least one limb. In addition, the service dog must be able to carry out a critical task that you have great difficulty performing.

This means the work is done or tasks performed must be directly related to your disability. Furthermore, the service dog must have high trainability and be alert to stimuli (such as behavioral signs of human anxiety). Because of this very important purpose, service dogs and their owners have certain rights in public spaces.

Next, you’ll need to determine the breed of the dog that is ideal for you. A few breeds likely come to mind when you think about service dogs, like the greyhound.

However, there are specific breeds of dogs out there who are especially suited for serving as service animals. Similarly, some dog breeds have a strong drive to help out and be put to work.

Labradors make great service animals and can perform a variety of services. That’s because they are sociable and hardworking critters with a lot of love to give. Similarly, the poodle is a perfect service dog because it can assist with food allergies or home care.

Other people choose to go with Boxers because they are happy, clownish, and one of the best dog breeds for service dogs.

Another common breed is St. Bernard. This is, by far, one of the most popular service dog breeds in history. It is known for having stable temperaments, is task-oriented, and is physically powerful.

After selecting your preferred dog breed, you’ll need to get a service dog trainer from a reputable organization. The ideal service animal provider must have experience in training dogs, ranging from all levels of behavioral modification to obedience training.

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5. Legal Status of ESAs and Service Animals

Emotional Support Animals

What are the laws protecting Emotional Support Animals and service animals? Emotional Support Animals and service animals have different rights and responsibilities under federal and state laws. Some of these laws are:

  • The Air Carrier Access Act

This law guarantees that persons with disabilities get consistent and non-discriminatory services during air travel. It also stipulates the obligations of airlines to accommodate passengers requiring special needs. Moreover, this regulation allows for alternative versions of access to be used and supplemented.

The Act applies to service animals because it prohibits discrimination in air transportation. ESAs can travel with the owner in the open without the restriction of being caged. In the terminal, airlines must provide animal relief areas.

However, you may be required to have certain documentation if you intend to travel with an emotional support or service animal. This only applies to persons with disabilities and not to all persons with mental illness.

ESA laws
Laws of ESA
  • The Fair Housing Act

The Fair Housing Act (FHA) is a federal regulation that illegalizes discrimination against tenants with disabilities. That includes people with restrictions, special needs, or assistive aids, such as Emotional Support Animals.

The law regards an ESA as a “tool” for aiding an individual with a disability. Similarly, weight and breed limits do not apply to assistance or service animals. These laws must be obeyed by:

  • Building lot owners
  • Real estate agents
  • Leasing agents
  • Rental managers
  • Financial institutions

Under the Act, a landlord can’t decline to accommodate a disabled person just because their insurance doesn’t cover Emotional Support Animals. This means that you can’t be denied housing based on an animal that you require as support.

Similarly, the property owner cannot demand any documentation for the ESA or require that it demonstrate its ability to perform a task. Furthermore, they may not demand access to medical records or unreasonably delay your rental request. The 2020 regulations also stipulate that housing providers can’t impose charge deposits and fees or impose breed/weight restrictions for ESAs.

However, the landlord can ask a few questions to determine whether an animal qualifies as an ESA. Also, you should be aware that there is a presumption that one animal is enough. At the same time, your tenancy can be declined if your animal poses a direct threat to the safety or health of other tenants.

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Service Animals

  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was created to protect the civil rights of those with disabilities. It went into effect in 1990. ADA’s primary purpose is to ensure that people with disabilities have the same human, legal, and civil rights as others. In the context of the ADA, “disability” is a legal term rather than a medical one.

When the law was initially enacted, the protections offered for individuals utilizing animals for medical and emotional support were limited. The law now specifies the definition of a service animal and the rights of individuals with disabilities.

ESA letter
Get ESA Letter

In addition, the law applies to all public facilities, such as restaurants, hotels, taxis and shuttles, grocery and department stores, and many others. For example, in a hospital, it would be illegal to prevent a service animal from accessing spaces such as patient rooms. This means that these places must allow service dogs.

Besides, the ADA requires public facilities to provide adequate information on services in accessible formats for individuals with disabilities.

The ADA requires public accommodations to allow service animals to accompany their owners. Besides, public accommodations can’t require special ID cards for the animal or ask about the person’s disability. At the same time, the ADA regulations do not restrict the type of dog breeds that can be service animals. However, service dogs must be under control at all times.

According to ADA, service animals perform some of the tasks that you can’t perform. This means that the animal must actually perform an action or task that benefits you. Other support or therapy animals are not covered under the ADA.

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6. The Qualifications of ESA and Service Animal Handlers

Do you qualify for a service dog or an emotional support animal (ESA)? Here are the requirements that you must satisfy before you are allowed to own an ESA or a service animal.

  • Emotional Support Animals

Anybody from anywhere in the United States can own an emotional service animal, regardless of race, religion, or gender. If you have an emotional disability, you can legally qualify for an ESA. Your disability could be sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or mental.

You may need a doctor to sign a verification form to complete that process. This is basically a signed letter stating that you have an emotional health challenge and that your pet helps you deal with it. The letter is the main and most important piece in the process of actually getting an emotional support animal. This is required so that people won’t abuse this system.

ESA
ESA in public places

Some of the eligible emotional disabilities include bipolar disorder, depression, fears and phobias, postpartum depression, and social anxiety disorder.

The ADA regulations do not require you to register your emotional support dog.

  • Service Dog

While anyone can own a trained service dog, not anyone can use it. First, a treating physician must diagnose you with a qualifying disability.

In most cases, all that is needed to qualify is a letter from your medical professional. The physician’s letter must indicate what specific assignments the service animal is required to master to provide the needed assistance.

In addition, there will be interviews and application forms intended to determine exactly how a dog can be most helpful. You may find it beneficial to seek further information from your doctor, employer, and landlord.

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Common Qualifying Disabilities

  • Anxiety attacks
  • Asthma
  • Autism
  • Blindness
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Paralysis
  • Problems with speech
  • Social anxiety

If you suffer from epilepsy, you may qualify for a seizure service dog. For a seizure condition to qualify, you must suffer at least one seizure every month. If your application falls within the legal criteria, you will be invited to find and adopt a trained service animal.

Final Thoughts

Remember that ESAs cannot be classified as Service Animals. That’s because service dogs receive more legal protections than emotional support dogs.

Emotional Support Animals are becoming a popular way to manage mental disabilities. As a person living with disabilities, you must know the potential benefits and risks of ESAs. Fortunately, a licensed healthcare professional can help you determine whether an emotional support animal is ideal for you.

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Service animals are amazing dogs trained to compensate for many different types of disabilities. They are also trained for the honorable people who have disabilities and retired from the military. Service dogs can’t be denied access to any public space unless they are misbehaving in public. This means that your service animals must be under your control and housebroken.

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