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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.

ESAs
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. 

 

ESA
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 Emotional support dogs ESA

An Overview of ESA Travel Restrictions in 2021

 

Back in 2020, a directive was passed by the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) law that Emotional Support Animals (ESA) will no longer fly on U.S airlines. This law regarding the U.S ESA travel ban was effective, starting in 2021.

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The U.S ESA travel authorities are now considering ESA as pets and not service dogs.

These changes came into being after years of laments from travelers. Some people would board with poorly trained animals such as monkeys, pigs, and other unusual animals that were not even ESA certified.

The period of free-flying ESAs came to a halt in 2021; however, some airlines out of the U.S still allow ESA to travel in their cabins.

 

ESA Travel Restriction Rules in 2021

Here’s the U.S ESA ban that has brought in changes when traveling with your ESA. In case you want to travel with an ESA, follow the guidelines below:

1. Comply with the U.S Airlines ESA Policy

The DOT claims that only service dogs will be allowed to board planes with their owners. They also claim that the service dog should be trained properly if the owner wishes to travel with them. 

Therefore, you should train your service dog to perform various tasks to qualify for traveling, such as:

  • Service dogs should first search for a room before the individual gets in.
  • Service dogs should help a victim in case of a seizure.
  • Service dogs should assist an individual with low vision or blindness.
  • Service dogs should help to pull a wheelchair.

2. ESAs Are No Longer Service Animals

The new policy does not consider emotional support animals as service animals anymore. Emotional support animals have the same status as house pets in the new ACAA policy. According to the new policy, only service animals can board the plane with their owners. 

 

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Key Points of New U.S ESA travel Policy

 

3. Heath Certificates

The U.S airlines will only accommodate service dogs from now on. The owner must present certified documentation developed by DOT, attesting to the Service animal’s health status from licensed health experts.

In long trips, the dogs should either wait until it reaches its destination or instead relieves itself in a sanitary manner.

4. Present DOT Forms in Advance

The U.S airline has ruled out that every owner with a service animal to forward their DOT forms up to 48 hours before the travel date.

The documents will make it easy for them to check whether the service dog complies with the rules. You should submit this form on departure at the airport entrance.

5. Disabled Should Use the Online Check-in Process

The new 2021 rules are now prohibiting people with disabilities from going on a tour and traveling with their Service Animals from checking-in at the airport physically.

In such a case, the individual should only use the online check-in process.

6. A limited Number of Service Dogs

The U.S travel advisory will only let in a limited number of service dogs. A single individual with a disability will only allow two service dogs during traveling.

Do ESA Dogs Fly Free?

Under the current rules, only service dogs will now board the flight for free. However, this will only happen if the new DOT form is filled and the service animal is certified. 

Currently, the new rules no longer make accommodations for the emotional support animals.

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How Much Does It Cost to Fly With an ESA?

In some cases, airlines may choose to treat ESAs as everyday pets. At this point, they are subjected to the same restrictions and fees. Unfortunately, the ESA owners will have to pay fees when boarding a flight with an ESA.

How Do I Fly With a Large ESA Dog?

  • Make a Call to the Airline

After you have complied with the ESA rules and booked a flight for you and your ESA for traveling, make sure to call the U.S airline for an ESA travel update.

Let them know that you are traveling with your ESA dog. As ESAs are not allowed in the passenger’s cabin anymore, your ESA will travel in cargo or with other pets in their crates. Make sure to keep the following things in mind before traveling.

  • Exercise Your Large Dog

Before traveling, make sure you play with your dog for more than an hour to release any pent-up energy. This exercise will put your dog to rest or sleep on the flight. In case the flight takes around four hours, your large dog might take an additional 1-2 hours flight as you get cleared at the security and main gate.

 

ESA
Training for Service Dogs

 

Exercising your dog is especially essential when you want to travel with a large dog since they are more energetic than small dogs; therefore, potentially create a disturbance at the airport.

In case you want to fly back after an exciting tour and travel, you can look up dog parks close to a specific airport to exercise your dog before flying back. ESA owners should prepare ahead of time for a peaceful flight back.

  • Avoid Feeding Your Large ESA Dog

Just like other ESA dogs, do not feed your large dog before a flight. Feeding your dog can cause motion sickness, which can be disastrous. The flight will not be interesting for you and your ESA dog. In case you have a night flight, ensure to feed your dog in the morning until full.

You can also give it some water to help wet its lips, do not give it a lot of water. Before and during the flight, ESA travel guides advise owners to limit the water intake. It will help your service animal from peeing while on the flight.

  • No New Treats

Within the 48 hours of traveling, ensure not to give your dog any new food treats. The food may give your dog a different reaction in the stomach. The dog might turn out sour Introducing new types of food will not be hilarious for anyone.

Bottom Line

The above US travel restrictions are now effective. Therefore, ESA owners should consult with the airlines and comply with the ACCA rules and U.S travel care if they want to travel with their ESAs.

For people planning to travel with their service animals at this time frame, they are advised to reach out to their airline to make sure they comply with the laws before their travel date.

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Note that some airlines will continue recognizing ESA travel, but others prohibit unless they comply with laws. However, most airlines are supposed to adapt to these legal developments for ESA’s safety and protection.

Esacare, Mango Clinic, and EZCare Clinic have excellent customer care services. They will educate you on the importance of the letter whenever you want to go traveling by air with your service dog.

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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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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. 

Hopefully, you got a good look at the Emotional Support Animal Letter Sample, now read reviews of authentic ESA Letter providers and make the best choice.

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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

Get Answers to the 19 Most Asked Questions About ESAs!

 

Doctors unanimously agree that people suffering from various mental disorders can benefit from owning emotional support animals. ESAs help people manage psychological issues and overcome phobias like flying and socializing in crowds. 

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They are widely beneficial and rapidly increasing in popularity as people continue to realize the benefits of owning a living, breathing, and loving emotional support system. 

This guide seeks to answer the most asked questions about ESAs and clarify any misconceptions you may have about applying for and owning an emotional support animal. 

Without any more delay, let’s dive in!

1. What are Emotional Support Animals?

Emotional support animals are pets that provide companionship, affection, and comfort to people that are battling mental illnesses and psychological disorders.

They act as a buffer between people and their psychological issues and phobias. As that’s their primary role, they are not considered ordinary pets. 

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You might think, “But all pets do that; what,  what makes ESAs special?”

It is an ESA’s job to help their owner feel more optimistic about life. It’s a tough job as they are required to help people overcome past traumas and get over their greatest fears to live a happy, healthy life. 

ESAs are defined as a crutch as their owners depend on them to overcome their emotional disorders. As such, they are required to stay by their owner’s side at all times. 

If you suffer from conditions like anxiety, an ESA can help restore normalcy in your day-to-day life and life and teach you how to get over your phobias/emotional distress. In the event of a panic attack, these animals are trained to soothe their owners back to normalcy and prevent the condition from happening again or recurring too much. 

 

2. Which Animals Qualify as ESAs?

Although most people choose cats or dogs as their emotional support animal, any animals that provide you with love and comfort can qualify as an ESA. 

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Which Animals Qualify as ESAs?

Cats and dogs are popular options because of their cuteness, receptiveness, loyalty, and affectionate nature. They’re relatively easy to train and teach obedience, plus they don’t require a lot in terms of maintenance. 

Aside from cats and dogs, animals that are commonly chosen to be ESAs include:

  • Ponies (or miniature horses)
  • Rabbits
  • Monkeys
  • Rats and mice
  • Birds
  • Spiders
  • Reptiles 

You can legally choose any animal you want to be your ESA. The only caveat is that some of your options, for instance, reptiles and rodents, are not well-liked by everyone and maybe too intimidating to bring around people. 

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Furthermore, airlines are nitpicky about the type of ESAs that are allowed to board their planes. Snakes, spiders, and rodents are very unpopular around these circles because they make other passengers uncomfortable. 

Don’t pick an ESA that is going to be challenging to travel with.

 

3. How Are Emotional Support Animals Trained?

ESAs don’t need any special training. Unlike service animals, which have to provide physical support to their owners, ESAs are only supposed to offer a soothing, comforting vibe, which they do naturally without any training. 

Even though you don’t legally have to train them, it’s essential to have a well-behaved animal if you intend to go everywhere with your ESA.

A well-trained animal is easily accepted into establishments and airlines because they don’t cause disruptions to other patrons or passengers. 

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Therefore, the following basic training may be necessary for your ESA:

  • Toilet Training

Perhaps the most important skill your ESA must have is the ability to go to the bathroom in the areas designated for them. You have to potty train your beloved ESA animal to avoid embarrassing situations in restaurants or flights. 

  • Obedience Training 

You don’t need to teach him/her complex tricks, but your ESA should be able to acknowledge and follow basic commands like sit, stay, walk, come, and stand. You can achieve this through a reward training system. 

Teaching your ESA obedience means that they will listen to you in public and obey all your commands. The last thing you need is the extra anxiety that comes from handling an untrained animal in public. 

  • Social Training 

Your ESA is going to be your crutch until you overcome your emotional issues or phobias, so it’s essential that they know how to behave around people.

They shouldn’t be aggressive towards strangers or fearful of crowded places. They should be able to keep their cool and provide emotional support even when there are unlimited distractions, as is usually the case in parks and other crowded establishments.

It’s also important to teach your ESA how to stay quiet. Animals that make noise incessantly can be perceived as a nuisance, and you may not be allowed to bring them along as your ESA.

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How to Determine If You’re Eligible for an ESA?

4. Who is Eligible for an ESA?

You must remember that not everyone is eligible for an ESA. Just because you love your pet doesn’t mean you can take it to places with animal restrictions, as you will automatically qualify for an ESA letter.

You won’t be able to get an ESA letter unless you’re diagnosed with a mental disability that warrants you to have an emotional support animal at all times. 

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Before you qualify for an ESA, you must be diagnosed with one of the mental disabilities that are recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). They are:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)
  • Bi-Polar Disorder
  • Panic Attacks
  • OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder)
  • Learning Disabilities
  • PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)
  • Motor impairments
  • Chronic Stress
  • Intellectual impairments
  • Personality disorder 

To determine whether you’re eligible for an ESA, visit a licensed healthcare provider for a comprehensive diagnosis. You may be required to share your medical history and past experiences to make an accurate diagnosis.

You must also discuss how having an emotional support animal may help you lead a normal life and overcome your greatest phobias.

5. What’s an ESA Letter?

An ESA letter is the license you need to qualify your pet as an ESA. It is your permission slip to bring your ESA along when you travel or to places where pets usually aren’t allowed. 

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For an ESA letter to be legitimate, it must be signed by a licensed mental health professional. It should include:

  • An official letterhead
  • Your name and phone number
  • Your health professional’s license number, their state of jurisdiction, and the license type
  • The date of issuance
  • An official statement stating why you need an emotional support animal
  • A confirmation of your mental disability and an acknowledgment of your ESA as a therapy animal
  • A signature from a licensed mental health professional

6. What is the Difference Between ESAs and Service Animals?

Duties

Emotional support animals are very different from service animals. Service animals help their disabled owners to perform physical tasks, whereas ESAs provide psychological support and act as a coping device for people with mental illnesses. 

An ESA may be required to help their owner overcome:

  • Anxiety attacks
  • Depressive episodes
  • PTSD nightmares and flashbacks
  • Stress
  • Personality disorders

On the other hand, a service animal may be required to help its owners with:

  • Opening and closing doors
  • Sniffing out blood, human remains, illegal substances, and explosives
  • Staying alert to strangers knocking on the door or ringing the doorbell
  • Turning appliances on and off
  • Detecting chemical changes in the human body through smell, for instance, when the insulin level drops
  • Alerting people to provide aid to their owners when they suffer panic attacks
ESA vs Service Animals
Emotional Support Animal vs. Service Animals

Training

An ESA’s main job is to provide companionship and unwavering affection. As such, ESAs don’t need much formal training. Aside from the few necessary skills like doing their business in the right places and following simple commands, they don’t need to learn any special abilities. 

Service animals need to be highly trained to perform the physical tasks required of them by their owners. Their tasks include helping their owners walk, detecting slight changes in their bodies, and acting as a guide in crowded places. AnA professional must first train an animal before qualifying as a service animal.

Legal

ESAs and service animals are protected by different sets of laws. ESAs are protected by the Air Carrier Access Act (ACCA), which allows them to travel with their owners in airplanes, provided they have an ESA letter. These animals are allowed to travel alongside their owners at no extra cost. 

The Fair Housing Act (FHA), which was passed in 1968, also protects the rights of tenants with disabilities. It regards ESAs as tools that aid individuals with disabilities. The law requires that landlords and property owners must accommodate the needs of someone who requires an ESA at all times. 

Service animals are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). According to this law, which came into effect in 1990, people with disabilities must be allowed to be with their service animals at all times. The Act permits owners of service animals to access any public establishments without restrictions. 

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7. Do ESAs Require Certification, Registration, Identification Documents, and a Vest?

Your emotional support animal is not a service dog. Service dogs are required to wear a vest and carry registration, identification, and certification documents whenever they go out with their owners. The same doesn’t apply to ESAs.

The only requirement your ESA must-have whenever you leave home is the ESA letter. This letter allows you to access establishments, airlines, and services with your emotional support animal. 

There’s nothing wrong with giving your ESA a vest, registration, and ID. It may help others recognize your pet as an ESA, but they’re not necessary. 

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8. What are the Benefits of Having an Emotional Support Animal?

Pets are a generally positive influence in their owners’ lives, more so if you rely on their companionship and unconditional love to cope with mental disorders. 

As emotional support animals, pets have a number of advantages:

They Offer Companionship

Sometimes, the only remedy for a mental disability like anxiety and depression is good company. What better company could you wish for than your cuddly, playful best friend?

Being in the company of your favorite animal can elevate your mood and make you more optimistic about life. 

With an ESA letter, you can take your emotional support animal wherever you go so that you never feel alone ever again. 

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How Can ESAs Help Cope with Mental Disabilities

ESAs Offer Relief from Stress and Anxiety

That relaxing feeling you get when you hang around your pets comes from an increase in serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin, the happy hormone, cancels out cortisol, the stress hormone.

Being around your emotional support animal makes you happier and less stressed. Animals are a welcome distraction in the life of an anxious person because they remind them to get out of their head. Thus, an ESA can dramatically reduce stress and anxiety in your life. 

Taking Care of an ESA Gives a Sense of Purpose

Most mental disorders are characterized by negative thinking and rumination. However, when you have a living bundle of joy to take care of, you’ll hardly have any time to waste on negative thoughts. 

Emotional support animals need love, care, and support. They also need entertainment, so you’ll have to play with them every so often. They give purpose to your life, reminding you to live in the moment and enjoy the little things more often. 

You’re Allowed to Travel or Live with Your ESA

Airlines are bound by law to make accommodations for people with mental disabilities. With an ESA letter, you can travel with your emotional support animal for free. 

The same applies to many housing establishments. Your emotional support animal can live with you in any building you choose, even if they have a strict no-pet policy. 

As long as you can present an ESA letter to your landlord, you can live with your emotional support animal for as long as you want. 

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An ESA Can Help you Cope with Mental Disabilities.

There is a universal remedy for symptoms of depression, PTSD, OCD, and bipolar disorder, and it comes in the form of a furry bundle of joy that provides emotional support when you need it most.

Your ESA has one job—to help you cope with your mental disabilities. Fortunately, this is a job that most emotional support animals are naturally adept at. 

Why struggle to get over your phobias and mental illnesses alone when you can rely on the unconditional affection of your ESA to get you through it?

9. What are the Laws that Support and Protect ESAs and their Owners?

Some laws protect people with mental disabilities and their rights to own emotional support animals. You must be familiar with these laws.

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The Air Carrier Access Act (ACCA)

The ACCA states that anyone with a diagnosed mental disability has a right to travel with an emotional support animal of their choosing. 

The emotional support animal may travel together with them in the same cabin provided the owner presents an ESA letter that has been signed by a licensed mental health professional. 

Under the Air Carrier Access Act, ESAs can travel for free and must receive all the necessary accommodations to facilitate a comfortable trip for them and their owners. 

Depending on the type of ESA you have, you can carry them on your lap or set them in a cage next to you during the flight. If you have a big emotional support animal, say a large dog, then the airline is obliged to reserve the seat next to you for your ESA. 

You don’t have to put your ESA in a cage; there’s no law that restricts them to cages during flights. However, you can still cage your animal if you prefer to travel with them that way. 

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Laws that protect ESA

Although the ACCA obligates airlines to make the necessary accommodations for you and your ESA, you have a part to play too. Your support animal should be well-trained and well-behaved. He/she must not cause disruptions of any kind during the flight. 

Remember, the ACCA only covers emotional support animals. Household pets are not allowed to travel in the passenger cabin. Furthermore, you won’t be allowed to travel with your pet for free unless you have a letter that certifies them as an ESA. 

The Fair Housing Act (FHA)

According to the Fair Housing Act, persons with mental disabilities can reside in any building of their choosing with their emotional support animal. Introduced in 1968, the FHA protects the rights of people with mental disabilities from discriminative property laws. 

Your ESA is considered an assistive aid under the FHA, so it is as essential as a pacemaker to a person with heart problems or a hearing aid to a deaf person. 

Property owners are obligated to make arrangements to accommodate individuals and their respective emotional support animals. They must make the necessary arrangements for people with mental disabilities.

As for owners of emotional support animals, the one thing you must always have ready is your ESA letter. It must be approved and signed by a licensed mental health professional.

This letter should be presented to the landlord/caretaker of every building you wish to live in with your emotional support animal. 

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10. Is it Legal to Own More than One ESA?

Yes, you can have more than one emotional support animal if you wish to. However, with more cuddly friends comes more responsibility. 

Remember, your emotional animal is reliant on you as well. You need to feed them, keep them

clean and provide adequate exercise and entertainment. 

If taking care of one ESA feels like a tough job, then you shouldn’t be eager to own more than one at a time. 

You also have to consider your mental wellbeing. Taking on too much responsibility, even if it is in the form of affectionate, emotional support animals, could be counterintuitive. You might end up feeling more stressed than ever. 

The law allows you to keep as many emotional support animals as you want. However, here are some reasons why you should reconsider owning more than one ESA:

  • Although your landlord is obligated by law to allow you to live with your ESA, it becomes a little more complicated when there’s more than one animal involved. This is especially true in buildings with strict no-pets policies. They often worry that you may not be able to control all your pets. 
  • Owning more than one ESA can be stressful. Taking care of one animal may give you a sense of purpose, but taking care of multiple animals at a time can be overwhelming. You may end up neglecting your beloved pets or adding more strain to your already weakened mental state. 
  • Taking care of multiple ESAs requires double effort, attention, and resources. If you’re unable to do so, you might stretch yourself too thin at the expense of your mental health. 
  • Most airlines have no qualms accommodating one ESA per person. Very few of them can accept two or more ESAs per person. Having one emotional support animal will certainly make your flights less hectic. 

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11. Is it Possible to Verify the Legitimacy of the ESA Website Issuing my Letter?

Yes. Unfortunately, hundreds of people fall victim to fake websites that claim to offer ESA letters at discounted prices or for free. Many of these are run by scammers posing as licensed doctors and mental health professionals. 

It’s easy to fall victim to one of these websites if you don’t know how to verify the credibility of a website. Here are three ways you can do it:

  • Ask to See the Practitioner’s License 

Check that the mental health professional has a valid license that certifies them to recommend and issue ESA letters. Also, check that he/she can issue an ESA letter in your jurisdiction. 

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How to Verify the Credibility of a Website?
  • Ensure the ESA Letter Has the Proper Credentials 

An ESA letter must have the following credentials:

  • An official letterhead
  • A registration number
  • The type of emotional support animal
  • Check the Website’s Payment Method 

The quickest way to spot a fake website is by checking the payment page. Usually, it lacks the “https” address with a padlock, which is the key indicator that a webpage is secure.

If a website does not meet these three conditions, the chances are good that it is not legitimate. Your best course of action is to leave it immediately. 

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12. How Long Will It Take to Get my ESA Letter Application Approved?

Once you submit your application for an ESA letter, you must wait for it to be approved by a licensed mental health professional. The review process takes just a few hours, after which you will receive a digital copy of the letter. 

A hard copy of the letter will arrive in your mail within 3 to 4 working days. This is the letter that you’ll need to present before boarding airlines or entering buildings with your ESA.

If you don’t receive a hard copy of your ESA letter within four days, contact your LMHP immediately and inform them. 

13. How Often Do I Need to Renew my ESA Letter?

Getting an ESA letter will not be your final step. ESA letters are only valid for a year, so you have to renew it annually to keep your support animal by your side. 

There are two ways to renew your ESA letter. You can do it online via a legitimate emotional support website, or you can visit your therapist to get it renewed. 

Either way, you’ll need to be proactive about it if you want to avoid complications. Landlords have a right to demand to see your ESA letter every year. 

Airlines are also strict about letting passengers board with animals if their ESA letter is expired. Staying ahead of the renewal date allows you to enjoy the full privileges of owning an emotional support animal. 

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14. Who Can Legally Sign an ESA Letter?

The signature on your ESA letter must belong to a medical professional for it to be valid. You can seek a professional of your choice to sign your ESA letter, provided they’re licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.

Your ESA letter can be legally signed by a licensed therapist, general physician, or mental health professional. 

15. Can an ESA Live in College/University Housing?

As is the case with many big life changes, moving to college can be a stressful experience. If you’re dealing with poor mental health, you might need a familiar face (or snout) to help you adapt to the new environment. 

The Fair Housing Act applies not just to residential buildings but also to university housing. That includes dormitories and college-sponsored apartment buildings. 

Of course, you must make sure that your ESA letter is signed by a licensed professional and up to date. 

You should also check the rules to see where your ESA can and can’t go. While most colleges and universities permit support animals in the dormitories, they rarely extend the same leniency when it comes to classrooms and lecture halls. 

16. Can my Landlord Deny my Request to Live with an ESA?

Landlords are bound by the Fair Housing Act to provide accommodations for people with mental illnesses. 

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Places That Do Not Allow ESAs

Since an ESA is an assistive aid, your landlord cannot legally deny your request to live with your support animal. 

These are not regular pets; they’re therapy animals that provide comfort and familiarity. Even buildings with strict rules about pets cannot apply the same rules to ESAs. 

Nevertheless, a landlord may still deny your request to co-habit with an ESA. That may be the case if:

  • Your animal seems likely to cause disruptions or bother the other occupants of the building.
  • The other tenants feel like your ESA is a potential health risk. 

17. Where Am I Allowed to Bring my ESA with Me?

You might not be able to go far with your pet, but the moment you acquire a legitimate ESA letter, doors will start opening for you. 

An ESA letter is your license to carry your therapy animal wherever you go. That includes:

  • Pet-friendly establishments
  • Apartments 
  • College dorms
  • Airplanes

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Nevertheless, there are some places you won’t be able to get into even if you have an up-to-date ESA letter that has been signed by an LMHP. They include:

  • Most workplaces
  • Cinema halls
  • Grocery stores
  • Restaurants
  • Hospitals 

To be on the safe side, check and double-check the policies concerning emotional support animals before visiting a public establishment. 

Some places are not obliged by law to accommodate you and your ESA, so avoid any misunderstandings by performing due diligence before visiting public spaces with your ESA. 

18. How Do I Choose the Right ESA for my Emotional Support Needs?

If you already have a house pet that you love, then all you need is a little training and an ESA letter to convert it into an emotional support animal. 

If that’s not the case, you need to choose an emotional support animal to suit your needs. It can be difficult and time-consuming, but in the end, it’s a task that many have found worthwhile. 

Even though any pet can be your emotional support animal, you shouldn’t be hasty when making your decision.

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So, what qualities should you be on the lookout for?

  • The ESA must be a domesticated animal. Cats and dogs are popular for this reason, but so are birds like parrots and rodents like hamsters and bunnies. Although legally speaking, you can choose any animal to be your ESA, it’s wise not to settle for wild animals like tigers and snakes as they could prove problematic in the future. 
  • The animal you settle for must be easy to handle in public. It must obey your commands and stay calm even when there’s a lot going on around you. An admirable trait in an emotional support animal is restraint. 
  • You should also factor in your mental illness when deciding the type of emotional support animal to go for. Ideally, it should be an animal that brings comfort to you or helps you relax. 
  • Most people settle for a cat or a dog as an emotional support animal. These are the top choices for many because they’re easy to train, fairly good listeners, extremely affectionate, and loyal. 

Cats and dogs are also highly intuitive creatures that can sense shifts in mood and emotions. They’re also very playful and easy to get along with. 

19. How Do I Submit my ESA Letter to my Landlord or Airline?

Once you’ve received the hard copy of your ESA letter—a process that typically takes 3 to 4 days—it is up to you to submit it to the relevant parties. 

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Places That Allow ESA

You can hand it in personally, which is recommended when you’re dealing with your landlord. Most landlords are pretty accommodating. After reviewing your ESA letter, they will let you know of any concerns and discuss your arrangement in depth. 

When submitting your ESA letter to an airline, make sure you send it in at least 48 hours before your flight. Alternatively, you can call a representative to make arrangements for you and your ESA before your trip. 

It’s a lot easier and quicker if you do these things a few days in advance.

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ESAs have a positive impact on your mind

Conclusion

When asked why they love their pets, most people mention something about normalcy and routine. Pets indeed give you a sense of purpose, plus they love you unconditionally and shower you with affection regularly. 

Emotional support animals are no different. They’re better trained to provide emotional support every time you’re feeling low or dealing with a serious phobia. 

ESAs provide normalcy, comfort, and companionship and ask for nothing in return but your love and care. They are a ray of sunshine in an otherwise dark, gloomy world. 

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If you’re considering getting an emotional support animal, remember that having an ESA letter from a licensed professional is the key to enjoying your pet’s company, whether you’re traveling or visiting places that make you anxious. 

An ESA letter permits you to take your pet to places where they normally wouldn’t be allowed. Remember that a well-behaved pet is more likely to be granted access to places with strict pet policies, so invest some time training your beloved pet to become a reliable ESA. 

Keep an eye out for scammers who claim to process ESA letters faster or for lower rates—they are only after your credit card details.

Most importantly, discuss with your doctor the type of emotional support animal that would best suit your condition. An ESA can only be deemed effective if it improves the quality of your life and helps you overcome your deepest phobias.

An emotional support animal can help you break from the chains of depression, anxiety, OCD, PTSD, and other mental inefficiencies that affect the quality of your life. 

Now that you’ve got all the answers you seek about emotional support animals, you know exactly how to go about getting a furry companion for yourself. 

If you feel like you’ve still got unanswered questions or concerns that haven’t been addressed in this comprehensive guide, relay your opinions, questions, and concerns in the comment section below and let us guide you to the answers you seek. 

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Emotional Support Animal

How to Register Your Cat as an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) in 2021

Introduction

An Emotional Support Animal is responsible for helping its owners cope with some behavioral or emotional disability. These animals offer a feeling of affection and care and are always happy to lend a paw to their owners if they need it. An animal that becomes a source of comfort for its parents can officially become an Emotional Support Animal.

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Cats are one of the most common species for emotional support after dogs. They are genuinely responsive and will help their owners accordingly. Cats are often misunderstood for being moody or less lovable than dogs because of their highly intellectual disposition. Still, they are often just as sensitive to their surroundings and are considered friendly and loving.

You are committing to a life where you and your furry companion will become inseparable by registering your pet as an Emotional Support Animal, and you can receive all the love and assistance you need.

An Emotional Support Animal letter from a licensed mental health specialist (LMHP) is mandatory for your pet to be legally acknowledged. In this post, we discuss the main steps to enroll your pet as an ESA.

Take the steps below to register your cat as an Emotional Support Animal.

1. Find a Licensed and Qualified Mental Health Professional

It’s time to ask a therapist to help you recover after your mental health assessment. Find the best psychiatrist you can get. Be sure you have unrestricted access to your doctor or psychiatrist.

To find a reputable and trained mental health specialist, take the following steps.

  • Use the internet wisely and do a detailed online search for the best therapist near you.
  • Ask for recommendations for the best therapist near you from your friends, colleagues, and family.
  • Read client testimonials, customer feedback, so you know what to expect from various mental health professionals.
  • Don’t stop at the first site, explore a little bit further, and make a rational decision by clicking through different profiles.
ESA Cat
How to Find a Reputable Mental Health Specialist?

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

Do not delay the process of scheduling an appointment with the right accredited mental health specialist for you. Contact them straight away. The sooner you arrange your consultation, the faster you can regain your mental health. The quicker you recover your mental health, the sooner you can fully enjoy life again.

Now that you’ve found the right mental health specialist, it’s time to decide when to schedule your consultation. You can seek consultations in two ways;

Online

If you’re a shy, reserved individual, go for online counseling with a certified medical practitioner. All you have to do is schedule your online appointment and pick the date and time for the approved mental health professional’s online consultation.

Face-to-face

When you’ve located a certified mental health specialist near you, and you feel like opening up about your mental health issues, you can visit their office for face-to-face consultations.  Meeting with a therapist will help you build trust with your doctor for an in-depth assessment.

3. Explain to Your Therapist Why You Need an Emotional Support Cat

Speak up about the emotional and mental trauma now that you have met the certified mental health specialist. It makes no sense to be shy and reserved in front of your doctor.

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Things You Need To Share With Your Mental Health Specialist

Before they make their final verdict on letting you get an emotional support cat, they need to get to know the seriousness of your illnesses. Explain that you need an ESA letter so that the doctor can advise you best.

Let’s address some of the most important things you need to share with your mental health specialist.

  1. You need to talk about your daily emotional disorders.
  2. When you talk about your private life, you must be transparent with your mental health specialist.
  3. You need to provide some specifics about whether or not you are taking drugs or smoking.
  4. All minor changes in behavior or attitude must be mentioned.
  5. You must speak out about any issues you might have when traveling by plane alone.
  6. It is essential to speak about how you feel alone and tormented when in public or crowded areas.
  7. You must discuss how your life will change if your emotional support cat accompanies you.

4. Apply for an Emotional Support Animal Letter

After a satisfactory consultation with a licensed mental health practitioner, request an ESA letter. After the physician prescribes it, you may have the luxury of making your cat an Emotional Support Animal. Only a qualified health care specialist, a clinical social worker, a therapist, a psychologist, a nurse, and a veterinarian may sign an Emotional Support Animal Letter.

The only way to register your pet as an Emotional Support Animal is to receive a legitimate, valid animal care certificate from a licensed medical practitioner. Any website that says otherwise is either a scam or an attempt to defraud you. Don’t fall for such scams.

It’s very straightforward to request for an Emotional Support Animal Letter. You can apply for an ESA letter for your cat in two ways;

Ask Your Therapist

A certified mental health specialist will examine your condition to consider whether or not you need an emotional support cat in your life if you have agreed to get face-to-face consultations. When they have an insight into your social disabilities and understand that your mental health is positively impacted by having an emotional support cat, they will write and sign an ESA letter.

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Benefits of an ESA Cat

Ask an Online Therapist

Suppose you want to contact a certified mental health specialist online. In that case, you need to exercise due diligence and find a Legal Clinic website to apply for a letter. To apply for an online animal care letter, you will fill out an online form. The details shall include:

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

You are required to complete the questionnaire with specific details about yourself and your cat that you would like to register as an ESA.

Authentic sites advise that you go through the screening process. This process determines whether or not you need an Emotional Support Animal. You will receive your emotional support letter from a licensed mental health professional in no time if you pass the screening test. The online application may take only a few minutes, but the printed copy will be submitted via email within 2-3 days.

Benefits of Getting Your Cat Registered as Your ESA

1. A Travel Buddy You Can Take With You Anywhere    

When you register your cat as an ESA, one of the advantages is that your cat will be allowed to accompany you while traveling on airlines. Your emotional support cat will be right next to you in the passenger cabin on the airplane.

So both of you can quickly fly to wherever you want. In compliance with the Air Carrier Access Act (ACCA), the animal can travel free with you for emotional support.

2. Housing Facilities

Landlords sometimes prohibit persons in their housing facilities from having their pets. However, when you register your pet as an Emotional Support Animal, they will be permitted to live with you in the house or apartment.

Your landlord must furnish you with the appropriate facilities to house your emotional support cat after showing a valid and up-to-date animal support letter. The emotional support cat will also be covered by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1998. Under this provision, an ESA or, in your case, an emotional support cat will be able to stay with its owners, without any additional pet fees.

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3. No More Loneliness and Depression

None can deny the pleasure that you get in the company of a pet. It will significantly help your physical and mental well-being to have a furry friend at your side. That also applies to loneliness.

Getting an emotional support cat next to you means you have a friend who is always happy to sit on your lap and who, even at your darkest hours, will never judge you. Individuals who struggle to open up to their peers can feel secure and cherished.

4. Feel Calm and Tranquility

For their handlers, an emotional support cat can become the most trusted and adored companion. Often, they are alert when people are having a pretty hard time. A trustworthy partner is everything you need to subdue the influence of a traumatic experience or an anxiety attack.

Cats may not be as sensitive in nature as dogs, but they can sense subtle differences in their owner’s mood. Emotional support cats are there to make their owners stay calm in dark moments. They show their owners affection and give them a feeling of connection they desire desperately. When you feel like the entire world is crashing down, what is better than having a loyal friend by your side?

 

5. Physical Benefits

While emotional support cats are often known for emotional and mental assistance, they offer more help to their owners. It’s worth noting here that they even help their owners remain physically healthy and fit. Much like the regular house cat, emotional support cats require some activity and playtime to connect with their owner.

Emotional support cats not only assist their owners in keeping their thoughts off challenging situations by making their owners indulge in playing with them, but they also provide the best excuse to stay healthy. If you feel like your loneliness makes you lie in bed all day long, having an emotional cat will change everything.

Conclusion

A cat is adorable, furry, and can soothe your body and mind with its purr. Having an emotional support pet by your side will make sure you get back to your regular life. Emotional support cats offer comfort and protection. Besides, they can also ease the pain of a traumatic experience.

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You may take your emotional support cat to places where regular cats may not be allowed, such as flights, university sleeping quarters, and some cafes.

To sum everything up, you can pick the right cat breed to be your emotional support cat, or register your cat as an emotional support animal and take advantage of the many benefits that accompany this title.

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Is Emotional Support Animal Rehabilitation Beneficial? 

If you have owned a pet or pets before, you understand that they are among the best source of company, especially when feeling unwell or down. This explains why Americans own approximately 78 million dogs and nearly 86 million cats.

Apart from providing comfort, pets play a significant role for those struggling with mental illnesses and disabilities. Emotional Support Animals are a source of emotional support with positively proven outcomes.

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What is Emotional Support Animal Rehabilitation? 

There are a lot of unknown facts surrounding Emotional Support Animal rehabilitation. To begin, Emotional Support Animal rehabilitation is the use of Emotional Support Animals to provide therapeutic benefits and alleviate symptoms of a mental and emotional disability.

Unlike service animals, Emotional Support Animals do not require much training, as they don’t need to perform specific tasks. 

These animals provide comfort and companionship, helping affected individuals alleviate some aspect of their mental disorder. They help owners accomplish major daily living activities, such as caring, sleeping, walking, working, and other daily activities.

That said, dogs are the common type of Emotional Support Animals prescribed. However, cats, miniature horses, and other animals can also be used. 

Who Qualifies for Emotional Support Animal Rehabilitation? 

An estimated 18% of adults in America live with some type of mental and emotional disability. Most of these individuals can benefit from Emotional Support Animal rehabilitation. However, the majority are not aware that they can qualify.

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Qualifying for an ESA

Mental health professionals can prescribe Emotional Support Animals to those living with mental illnesses and disabilities. These include patients suffering from anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, autism spectrum disorders, and ADHD. 

Is Emotional Support Animal Rehabilitation Effective? 

Over time, Emotional Support Animals have proven effective in helping patients with emotional disabilities improve their symptoms. These animals have been proven effective in helping patients with anxiety and depression in the following ways.

1. Improve Physical Health 

Physical wellness has a significant impact on emotional wellbeing. Conclusions from a research study done by Harvard University suggested that petting a dog can decrease blood pressure.

Dog ownership has also been connected to lowered triglyceride levels. For instance, the act of walking a dog also boosts physical activity, which leads to increased endorphin or feel-good-hormone production. This helps create a stress-free physical environment that decreases symptoms of depression.

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2. Uncovers Meaning and Purpose

One of the major symptoms of anxiety and depression is social detachment. Most patients feel isolated and lack purpose in life. As such, Emotional Support Animals can provide company and unconditional love to isolated patients.

Knowing that a pet relies on you for food and other provisions develops a sense of purpose, even in patients with mental conditions.

3. Healthy Companionship 

As mentioned, individuals with emotional and mental disabilities often struggle to maintain healthy relationships with other people. During such experiences, Emotional Support Animals provide a genuinely safe and loving company.

Moreover, those suffering from depression don’t need to fake a front when spending time with their animals. As they would have to when with other humans. They can be themselves all the time without feeling judged. 

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Is Emotional Support Animal Rehabilitation Beneficial?

4. Improves Self Esteem 

Those struggling with depression often have issues with their self-esteem and prone to frequent episodes of anxiety. Emotional Support Animals can improve all these symptoms, improving one’s quality of life. A study done at Miami University by McConnell proved that pet owners comparably have high self-esteem and low fearful levels. This proves that Emotional Support Animal rehabilitation can help decrease depressive symptoms and improve the overall quality of life in individuals with mental illnesses. 

How Does Emotional Support Animals Provide Support?

Emotional Support Animals’ mechanism of action cannot be compared to drugs and other therapies aimed at improving mental conditions. These animals provide this support by simply being there for their owners.

They are an important source of unconditional love and companionship, which is overly important for those with mental disabilities. 

Mentally affected individuals develop a sense of responsibility and purpose by taking care of these animals. Feeding, walking, bathing, talking, and taking general care of these animals makes one feel important and valuable. Such is important for those struggling with anxiety and depression, as they might feel less of their self-worth. 

While Emotional Support Animals cannot talk back, these animals are excellent listeners. Furthermore, unlike humans, they are not judgmental and great at keeping secrets.

They provide a great place to confide in, which helps affected individuals work through their mental problems. 

ESAs also provide great support when their owners face difficult situations. For instance, they provide company to individuals who develop anxiety when traveling. They help owners feel confident in anxiety-inducing situations.

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Bottom Line 

Emotional Support Animals can be beneficial to millions of mentally challenged persons. If you suffer from any of these conditions and think that Emotional Support Animals will help alleviate your symptoms, you can apply for an ESA prescription letter.

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An Ultimate Guide on Emotional Support Animal Federal Law

For people who have been diagnosed with mental disabilities like anxiety or depression, Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) offer companionship and support necessary for them to ease their symptoms and lead normal lives.

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If you are considering getting an Emotional Support Animal, you will be pleased to know that ESAs enjoy protection from Emotional Support Animals federal laws, which offer privileges that do not apply to other pets.

To get the best out of your Emotional Support Animal, you should know Emotional Support Animals federal laws. So that you can protect your rights and those of your ESA.

Here is a detailed companion animal law guide for you.

1. Introducing Emotional Support Animals

Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) are animals that provide comfort and therapeutic benefits to individuals struggling with the effects or symptoms of emotional or mental disabilities.

Since Emotional Support Animals offer relief from mental and emotional disorders. They are usually prescribed as part of a treatment strategy to help promote recovery in patients suffering from recognized disabilities.

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Most patients with mental or emotional issues tend to not only lose interest in activities they previously enjoyed but also have the tendency to distance themselves from others.

If you suffer from mental health issues, you understand how much of a toll it can take on your social life. Luckily, Emotional Support Animals exist to remedy the situation. They offer you friendship and companionship, which can help you boost your mood and even regain interest in fun activities.

An ESA can completely alter your perspective about life and your present circumstances, putting you on the right path to recovery and improving the quality of your life.

With an Emotional Support Animal on your side, you enjoy the attention, companionship, and comfort that they provide. ESAs also instill a sense of security and protection, making it easy for you to deal with situations that could trigger your anxiety, such as being alone in public places or being surrounded by strangers.

ESAs are like real-life plush toys that people with mental disabilities find solace in while they cuddle with them.

Unlike friends and loved ones who may not always be by your side whenever you need them. Emotional Support Animals will always be present in your life. It doesn’t matter whether you are traveling, going shopping, or just having alone time at home. An ESA is a source of a reliable company, so you don’t feel alone.

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Emotional Support Animals

With the emotional support that ESAs provide, you are bound to experience relief from mental health disorders and live a happier life.

2. Animals That Can Be Considered as Emotional Support Animals

The good thing about Emotional Support Animals is that you don’t have to choose from a limited type of animals or species when selecting an ESA.

This is because any domesticated pet can become your ESA provided they offer you emotional support, can significantly relieve your symptoms and play a big part in helping you lead a normal life.

While there are no rules to which animals can become an ESA, your Emotional Support Animal should be easy to handle in public. This is because you will be spending most of your time both in the confines of your home and in public areas.

ESAs should also be good-mannered so they don’t become a nuisance to both the owner as well as the general public. However, this doesn’t mean you have to take your emotional support animal through special training.

Ideal Emotional Support Animals should obey simple commands for the benefit of the owner. Take note that ESAs are not trained to perform any special tasks for their owners. Some of the most commonly preferred ESAls include;

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

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Although the above animals are eligible for a recommendation as ESAs, cats and dogs make the majority of referred choices among most patients. Studies show that most patients choose cats or dogs as they perceive them to be more convenient in facilitating their journey to recovery.

While the choice of ESA boils down to personal preference, it is understandable why cats and dogs rank the highest. Not only are they intelligent animals capable of sensing human emotions, but they are easy to train so that they can behave well and obey simple commands in public.

For most people, cats come off as self-centered animals. However, you may be surprised to know that cats and dogs are highly sensitive to human needs, feelings, and emotions compared to hamsters, birds, and rabbits.

On the other hand, dogs have long been considered as a man’s best friend due to their loyalty and usefulness to their owners. These traits are also the reason they make one of the best animal support animals.

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How ESAs help their owners?

Whether you prefer a dog, hamster, or a parrot for your mental and emotional well-being, you can always get your doctor to prescribe you your ideal animal to help you live a better life.  

3. Disabilities that Legally Qualify You for an Emotional Support Animal

Mental health disorders are very hard to recognize and diagnose, which is why you may not know when someone is going through an emotional or mental rollercoaster.

What’s more, everyone experiences mental health issues differently, such as social anxiety, where you are scared of being in public with strangers, or even depression.

Whatever the condition, everyone looks forward to living a healthy, happy, and normal life, which is why most people seek medical attention to help them recover.

The good thing is that mental health conditions can be managed, and one way to treat them is with the help of Emotional Support Animals.

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Usually, your therapist or doctor will prescribe an Emotional Support Animal to complement your treatment for various reasons. This could be because the medication you are using does not show the desired results, or there is no change in behavior with your current treatment.

In such cases, your healthcare provider will take you through the option of having an ESA to help you recover.

Emotional Support Animals are usually a go-to option for patients suffering from a myriad of mental health and emotional issues. However, since there are specific regulations that govern Emotional Support Animals, there are specific conditions that are legally recognized by the law.

The emotional or mental disorder must be disabling to the sufferer, not just causing discomfort. An ESA must be proven to provide relief to the symptoms or effects of your disability, which should be certified and confirmed by a licensed healthcare professional.

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Emotional Support Animals

Some of the mental health disabilities that qualify for ESA recommendations include.

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)      
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Panic Attacks
  • Phobias
  • Mood Disorders

If you suffer from any of the above mental disabilities to the point that it affects your ability to function and go about your daily routines, an ESA can have a positive effect on your health.

Your ESA will ease your anxiety, boost your mood, and help you deal with difficult situations healthily.

Below are how Emotional Support Animals can help boost your mental health. 

  • PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder mostly occurs as a result of negative and traumatizing life experiences such as accidents or abuse, leaving an individual with mental scars.

An ESA can alleviate the symptoms of PTSD by radiating positive vibes as well as being a source of comfort to help you feel calm and sleep better.

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This way, you reduce your chances of getting anxiety attacks and experiencing nightmares.

By spending more time with your ESA, you get distracted from thinking about the awful life experiences and also enjoy the never-ending stream of affection from your furry friend.

  • Depression

When battling with depression, you not only experience feelings of doom and hopelessness but also:

  • tend to lose interest in previously fun activities
  • withdraw from people
  • experience anxiety

Emotional Support Animals can relieve depression by reducing anxiety, which is common in individuals with depression. They also provide companionship and friendship, which eliminates the feelings of loneliness, motivates social interactions and connections, and cultivate positive emotions.

With an ESA by your side, you will find yourself playing and caring for it, thus helping you reclaim your love for fun activities and develop a sense of self-efficacy and independence.

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  • Anxiety 

Anxiety is the most common mental disorder affecting more than 40 million adults in the U.S. When you suffer from an anxiety attack, you can cuddle or pet your Emotional Support Animal so you can regain calmness.

Since ESAs provide companionship and non-judgmental support, you can also release your anxious feelings by talking to your animal as a way of letting go.

By providing comfort and a sense of stability, an ESA can help lessen the intensity of anxiety symptoms.

  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Individuals who suffer from OCD struggle a lot with the negative feelings that come as a result of compulsive behaviors. This is because they tend to get anxious and distressed when they don’t do certain repetitive tasks for fear of something bad happening.

As such, having an ESA acts as a good distraction to these feelings. ESAs also offer a sense of comfort and protection when nervousness and anxiety creep in. OCD patients may also realize that ESAs help them focus on more important things. Instead of dwelling on upsetting and triggering thoughts.

  • Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is characterized by manic and depressive phases where you are hyper and happy one moment and depressed and “low” the next moment.

For people suffering from bipolar disorder, the presence of Emotional Support Animals offers a sense of stability as well as routine. They can also help bring you back to reality when you feel disconnected and act as a source of distraction during manic episodes.

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  • Panic Attacks

Panic attacks are a common occurrence, especially for people suffering from anxiety. They occur as a result of extreme fear of something bad happening.

If you suffer from a panic attack, the presence of an ESA can calm you down, relieving your symptoms. Cuddling with or holding your ESA has a calming effect and helps lower your heart rate and blood pressure.

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  • Phobias

An Emotional Support Animal can help you deal with phobias by providing a sense of security, reassurance, and comfort. The sheer presence of your ESA will help you calm down when you are faced with a normally scary situation.

If you suffer from social phobia, ESAs will motivate you to go out and interact with the outside world. Such as walking your dog or playing with your ESA outdoors.

Doing this helps improve your social interaction and transforms them from dreadful to enjoyable experiences.

  • Mood Disorders

Mood disorders play on the emotions of patients. An ESA provides a company that helps enhance your endorphins and increase your positive emotions.

Research has shown that when you interact with your pet or Emotional Support Animal, it triggers the release of oxytocin, which helps you relax.

4. Emotional Support Animals Federal Laws

If you want to keep and travel with your Emotional Support Animal legally, you must have an ESA letter as evidence of your need for the animal for the sake of your mental and emotional health. 

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Emotional Support Animals Federal Laws

However, owning an ESA comes with the obligation to adhere to all Emotional Support Animals federal laws regarding their ownership.

Before getting an Emotional Support Animal, you should understand all the relevant laws and regulations regarding you and your ESA. This will help you avoid problems with the law. It will also enable you to fully enjoy the benefits that an ESA has on your mental and emotional health.

When talking about Emotional Support Animals federal laws there are two laws that govern the ownership of ESAs in the US. These are the Air Carrier Access Act (ACCA) and the Fair Housing Act (FHA).

Read on to find out what these Emotional Support Animals federal laws entail as well as what you can expect from your landlord or airline where your Emotional Support Animal is concerned.

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1. The Air Carrier Access Act (ACCA)

The Air Carrier Access Act (ACCA) allows any mentally disabled individual who needs the help of an Emotional Support Animal to be permitted to board a plane with their ESA without having to pay any additional fee. The rules apply to all airlines in the USA.

If you are going to be accompanied by your ESA on a trip, you will have to show a legitimate ESA letter to the airline to be permitted to board a plane with your ESA.

Thereafter, the ACCA will ensure that the airline adequately accommodates both you and your ESA. What’s more, no airline is allowed to limit or ban an ESA based on its breed as there are no limitations to what species can play the role of an Emotional Support Animal.

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In case the airline feels that the rest of the passengers may not like sharing the cabin with your ESA, or some passengers are allergic to animals on board.

Then the airline is obligated to provide a separate cabin to accommodate you and your pet.

Keep in mind that you need to communicate with your airline about your mental disability as well as your need to travel with your ESA at least 48 hours before your boarding.

How an Emotional Support Animal Helps During a Flight

Emotional Support Animals can calm you down, provide companionship during your travel, and offer comfort. If you are scared of traveling alone or have a fear of heights, the presence of your ESA will help you relax and feel reassured.

This way, your flying experience doesn’t become as terrifying as when you are traveling alone.

Required Documentation

If you are traveling with your ESA, the authorities will require you to provide the relevant documentation.

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While every airline may have different documentation requirements, below are common documents you must have before boarding a plane to help you avoid a misdemeanor.

  • An Emotional Support Animal Letter that is signed and approved by a licensed healthcare provider. This should include your emotional disabilities, the doctor’s explanation of why you need to travel with your ESA, as well as the date and type of the mental health professional’s license. Your letter should also show the jurisdiction under which it was issued.
  • Passengers’ guarantee behavior form that shows your animal is well-mannered.
  • Veterinary documentation showing the vaccination details of the animal and if it needs special accommodation. It should also have the vets’ contact information and license.
  • Animal sanitation form. This is for when you have an over 8-hour flight, and you need to state that your ESA can relieve in a sanitary manner when need be.

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Ensure all your documents are accurate and up to date. You must ensure that your ESA letter, which usually has a validity of 1 year, is within the expiry period as you won’t be able to board a plane if it is expired.

2. The Fair Housing Act (FHA) 

Finding an ideal home to live with your ESA can be a difficult task, given the no-pet policy in most apartments. If you have an ESA letter, the Fair Housing Act (FHA) protects you and your Emotional Support Animals from being denied access to homes with no-pet policies.

According to the law, your landlord is required to accommodate you and your ESA in the property whether or not it has a no-pet policy. The law prohibits landlords from being biased against individuals with specific mental disabilities who need ESAs to lead normal lives.

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Emotional Support Animals Federal Laws

As such, they are required to provide fitting accommodation considering their need for ESAs.

As per the American Disabilities Act(ADA), Emotional Support Animals are neither seen as service animals nor considered as pets. However, they are considered therapy animals who boost the mental well-being of their owners as they help alleviate stress and anxiety.

This gives individuals with ESAs the right to live with them without restriction by landlords.

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Reasonable Accommodation for You and Your ESA 

The law states that any person who has a mental disability and needs to keep an ESA for their wellbeing should be allowed to do so without restriction.

Therefore, the landlord is obligated to accommodate you and your ESA in the apartment, given that you have a legit recommendation for an ESA from your doctor.

Documents Required for Accommodation 

To be allowed to stay in an apartment with your ESA, you only need to provide an authentic ESA letter signed by a licensed healthcare professional.

With an ESA letter, your landlord has no right to question you over your disability. Ensure that the ESA letter you provide is up to date and explains your need for an Emotional Support Animal.  

5. The Difference in Travelling Laws for ESAs, Pets, and Service Animals

With the adoption of ESAs becoming popular, it is important to understand that ESAs differ from pets and service animals. Therefore, the traveling laws regarding these animals are all different.

Read on to understand how traveling laws differ depending on the kind of animal you keep.

1. Traveling Laws for ESAs

The law allows you to travel with your ESA for free, provided you present an authentic ESA letter signed by a licensed healthcare professional.

Your ESA letter should be up to date, and you must communicate to your airline at least 48 hours before your travel that you will be traveling with your Emotional Support Animal.

You can travel with your ESA in your cabin as long as it behaves well. If you have a small Emotional Support Animal, you can hold it while traveling.

On the other hand, bigger animals may be provided a seat or space on the floor or placed into a cage under the passenger seat if possible.

Keep in mind that different airlines may have different laws regarding ESAs. It would be best to inquire from your specific airline all the information you need regarding traveling with your Emotional Support Animal. 

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2. Travelling Laws for Pets

Unlike an ESA, you cannot travel with your pet for free as you will have to part with anything between $100 and $200 for it to be allowed in the passenger cabin.

While most airlines put pets inside the cargo hold, some may allow you to stay with your pet during travel as long as it is in a cage. However, airlines are not obligated to accommodate pets. 

3. Traveling Laws for Service Animals

Owners of service animals can travel with their animals in the passenger cabin as per the law. What’s more, airlines are responsible for accommodating service animals during travel. Only one service animal is allowed per patient.

When traveling, your animal should have a vest or tag that identifies it as a service animal.

For you to fly with your service animal in the passenger cabin, it should be toilet-trained and well-mannered. You should also not share your tray with your service animal, and it shouldn’t be a nuisance to other passengers as you risk having your furry friend accommodated somewhere else.

6. Emotional Support Animals vs. House Pets in the Eyes of the Law

While you may see ESAs and house pets as one thing, they are classified and perceived differently in the eyes of the law. Below are some of the main factors that set apart ESAs from pets.

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ESA Pets Vs House Pets

1. Purpose

Emotional Support Animals provide support and companionship and are solely recommended for treatment purposes to individuals suffering from emotional and mental disabilities like anxiety and depression.

Housepets, on the other hand, are animals adopted largely for entertainment purposes and serve no medical function.

2. Adoption

To adopt an ESA, you need a recommendation or prescription from a licensed healthcare provider. Showing that you need an Emotional Support Animal to alleviate your mental disability.

The process of adopting a pet does not require a doctor’s prescription. 

3. Eligibility

While anyone can keep a pet, only individuals suffering from mental or emotional disorders are eligible to keep ESAs. What’s more, the mental disorder should be confirmed by a licensed medical health professional and should be severe enough to disrupt your ability to function rather than causing mere discomfort.

The law allows you to turn your pet into an ESA, but you cannot turn your ESA into a pet. 

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4. Permits

Emotional Support Animals are protected by federal law and allowed special treatment as they are recognized as of immense importance to their owner’s health.

Normally, pets may not be allowed in certain places such as public parks, hotels, and even shopping centers. However, you can legally access places and live in apartments with no-pet policies with your ESA as long as you have an authentic ESA letter.

5. Traveling

Although a pet cannot travel with you on a plane for free, your Emotional Support Animal is permitted by the Air Carrier Access Act to board a plane with you for free.

What’s more, your airline is expected to provide appropriate accommodation to you and your ESA according to the law.

6. Dependence

Since you can adopt a pet either for companionship or entertainment, your mental well-being may not necessarily depend on it.

On the contrary, people who keep ESAs rely on them for emotional support and better mental health.

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7. How Emotional Support Animals Federal Laws Differ from Service Animal Laws

Service animals are dogs that have been trained to perform specific tasks for people living with disabilities such as the blind, the deaf, and even people in wheelchairs.

They are trained to retrieve items, provide protection, alert their owners, and even provide physical support for people with mobility problems.

Just like ESAs, service animals are not categorized as pets and are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). However, the law perceives ESAs differently from service animals.

Since service animals help their owner complete specific tasks, they can accompany their owners everywhere, including places where neither pets nor service animals are allowed, such as hospitals. The law allows the owner to be with their service animal at all times.

Although ESAs are prescribed to people living with mental disabilities. Doctors encourage individuals with handicaps to acquire service animals to help them perform certain duties that they can’t do on their own.

ESA vs Service Animals
Emotional Support Animal vs Service Animals

When it comes to the purpose of the animal, you can keep an ESA for the company and support to help you deal with a mental disorder. However, service animals exist not for the company but for the purpose of conquering your disability by helping you carry out activities that you normally wouldn’t due to your condition.

Despite the differences between service animals and ESAs, both categories can accompany you to school or college, and your school dorms are required to accommodate them.

8. Training an Emotional Support Animal vs. A Service Animal

Service animals undergo special training before they can be adopted. They have to learn how to take orders, perform simple tasks like leading the blind, fetching things, and even open and closing doors. Service animals can also be trained to understand sign language. The training that service animals get is usually directly related to a disability. ESAs, on the other hand, don’t require special training. This is because they only provide comfort and emotional support, unlike service animals that need to complete tasks for their owners.

Since service animals are more like assistants to the disabled, the law requires service animals to have vests that differentiate them from other animals like pets and ESAs. You don’t have to get a vest for your ESA.

9. Getting an ESA Letter

Whether you want to turn your pet into an ESA or adopt a new Emotional Support Animal, you need an ESA letter to help you live, travel, and spend quality time with your ESA.

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An ESA letter is written by a licensed doctor or therapist showing that you suffer from a mental disability that requires you to have an Emotional Support Animal to help you recover. With an ESA letter, you can travel and live with your ESA, even in areas where pets are not allowed. You only need to go through the following simple steps to get an authentic ESA letter. But before that, take some time out and read reviews of authentic ESA letter providers.

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1. Book an appointment

The first step to getting an ESA letter is booking an appointment with a licensed and experienced mental health professional. Always ensure that you are dealing with an authentic and licensed healthcare provider to avoid ending up with a fake ESA letter.

2. Open up about your mental health

Once you get in touch with your therapist or doctor, explain in detail your mental health as well as your need for an ESA. Your healthcare provider will assess and evaluate your condition to establish your suitability for an Emotional Support Animal before issuing you with a recommendation letter.

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3. Apply for an Emotional Support Animal Letter

After your assessment, you can then apply for an ESA letter from a reliable healthcare provider. You can do this by either visiting your doctor or making an online application from a legitimate website.

4. Fill the form

You will be given a form to fill when you apply for an ESA letter. Ensure that you provide accurate details regarding your credentials, mental disabilities, and why you think an Emotional Support Animal is necessary for your mental health.

Keep in mind that the information you provide will go a long way in determining whether or not you will get an ESA letter.

5. Choose an Emotional Support Animal

Once you have filled the form and your application is approved, it is time to select an Emotional Support Animal. You can choose your present pet to become your ESA as you already have an existing connection with it. If you don’t have a pet, you can always adopt a new animal. With the help of adoption agencies so that you can begin your journey to a healthier and happier life.

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Conclusion

Federal ESA laws protect your rights as well as those of your Emotional Support Animal. As such, you must adhere to all the rules and regulations related to your ESA to enable you to live harmoniously with the people around you and also avoid getting on the wrong side of the law.

This way, you can enjoy the company of your Emotional Support Animal without interference and improve your mental health as well as your quality of life.

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Emotional Support Animal Certification Laws You Should Know

 ESA, short for Emotional Support Animals, is a relatively new breakthrough in mental health. For decades, the challenges associated with treating patients with mental problems proved a challenge for mental health physicians.

Nonetheless, mental healthcare has made significant strides over time, with Emotional Support Animals playing a significant role in the evolutions witnessed in this field.

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Unfortunately, due to the radical occurrence of Emotional Support Animals, most people don’t understand what ESAs are and the rules governing the use of these animals. Adding to this is the fact that ESA certification policies vary from one state to another. 

What is an Emotional Support Animal? 

Contrary to what most people believe, Emotional Support Animals are not pets. They are companion animals with therapeutic effects on individuals with psychiatric conditions. Anyone seeking Emotional Support Animals should have a variable disability, as the animals cannot be used for companionship only. Owners of Emotional Support Animals are protected under two federal laws. They include; 

1. The Fair Housing Act 

Under this law, property owners should accommodate tenants owning Emotional Support Animals without discrimination, even if the house policies do not allow pets. The Department of Housing provides guidelines on how the FHA provisions should be implemented and enforces these rules. These laws were designed to eliminate discrimination against disabled persons and apply to all housing in all U.S states, including condominiums, rentals, and co-ops, with very few exceptions. 

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Emotional Support Animal Laws

Under these laws, ESAs are identified as assistance animals that provide accommodation for people with mental conditions, such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD. According to these laws, ESAs are not categorized as ordinary pets. Therefore, they are exempted from pet restrictions placed by housing providers. 

That said, Emotional Support Animal owners have several rights under these laws. They include; 

  • Property owners should not impose the size, weight, and breed limitations on ESA owners.
  • Landlords should not charge additional fees or deposits for ESAs.
  • Housing providers should not request detailed information about the tenant’s condition, such as medical history.
  • Property owners can deny ESA accommodation if the situation will impose an unexpected financial burden or if the ESA is a threat to other building occupants. 

As mentioned, most property types are covered under the FHA guidelines. However, there are exceptions for small property owners. For instance, landlords with buildings housing less than four units, rent out without an agency, and single-family houses being sold are exempted. That aside, some states have formulated state-based rules outlining specific housing rights to owners of these animals.

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2. ESA Travel Law 

The second law regulating Emotional Support Animals is the Air Carrier Access Act. According to this law’s provisions, passengers can fly in the cabin with their Emotional Support Animals free of charge. This law applies to all U.S airlines, flights within the U.S, and those originating and arriving in the U.S. The Department of Transportation issues and enforces these guidelines. However, specific airlines have additional policies outlining their requirements. 

That said, if you intend to fly with your Emotional Support Animal, it is prudent that you check with the airline before the travel date. Ensure that you contact the airline and submit all the necessary documentation at least 48 hours before the departure date. 

Under the ACAA policies, passengers and airlines with ESAs should comply with the following rules; 

  • The airline should not charge any fee for Emotional Support Animals.
  • Airlines should accommodate all ESAs, including cats, dogs, and miniature horses.
  • Any airline cannot restrict ESAs to one for every passenger.
  • Airlines cannot ban ESAs because they are of a specific breed. However, they can deny the ESA if they pose a danger to other plane occupants.
  • Airlines cannot apply categorical restrictions on ESA because of weight. However, they can determine if the animal is too heavy or large to fit into the cabin.
  • Airlines can deny ESAs that are unusual animals, such as spiders, snakes, and other reptiles. 

How to Get ESA Certification Letter 

Licensed healthcare professionals, such as therapists, social workers, psychologists, nurses, counselors, and doctors, can issue ESA certification letters. Therefore, it is best if you consult a health professional monitoring your mental health. However, ensure that you meet the requirements outlined by your state for ESA certifications. For instance, Virginia regulations acknowledge ESA certifications from mental health professionals only. Also, note that these certifications are only valid for one year.

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Bottom Line 

Emotional Support Animals have shown remarkable effectiveness in improving the health status of patients with mental disorders. If you intend to apply for these animals, ensure that you consult with your mental healthcare provider for the best recommendations.

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If you have any challenges finding a certified healthcare professional, get in touch with ESA doctors. Licensed professionals in the company can help connect you with licensed mental healthcare professionals in your state.

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How to Use Emotional Support Horses for Your Mental Health 

The healthy relationship between humans and horses started long ago, with research suggesting that it began more than 6000 years ago. However, besides being a beast of burdens and transportation tools in the past, horses are currently key players in rehabilitating people with mental disorders. Emotional support horses is a general term that includes a plethora of therapeutic activities that involve horses.

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Among the activities include Hippotherapy, which uses horses’ movement for occupational, speech, and physical therapy. Equine-assisted psychotherapy is another type, which involves the use of horses in treating behavioral and psychological issues.

The guide below outlines how people with mental disorders can use this treatment option. 

How Horses Help With Mental Health 

Caring and interacting with horses and other animals has several proven health benefits. Besides providing companionship, comfort, and promoting general well-being, they currently offer therapeutic benefits. However, research is yet to provide how horses can alleviate motor, sensory, mental, and behavioral problems. Though the mechanism of action of equine-assisted therapies has not been clearly established, theoretical perspectives are present. 

Some perspectives suggest that horses are prey animals, making them highly attuned to the environment and sensitive to emotional states compared to dogs and other Emotional Support Animals. Surprisingly, horses can read and become aware of human feelings. They can also give feedback about their owners by moving towards or away from the owner. 

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Benefits of Emotional Support Horses

Horses are also large and powerful in nature, giving them the potential of making humans overcome fear and gain confidence that can be used in real-life situations. Their unbiased nature in responding to human behavior and intent also helps with mental healing. 

That said, emotional support horses can help with anxiety, depression, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, behavioral challenges, eating disorders, and relationship problems, among others.

Benefits of these therapies include:

  1. Improved self-esteem.
  2. Empowerment.
  3. Better communication skills.
  4. Relaxation.
  5. Self-awareness.
  6. Improved interpersonal relationships. 

Using Emotional Support Horses 

Equine therapy involves more than riding a horse. Some patients may not even come into physical contact with the horse. In most cases, the equine therapy expert will set goals for the patient to complete. Goals could range from leading a horse to a designated spot or installing a halter. Once the task is complete, the therapist guides the patient in discussing the process and ideas involved in completing the task. 

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Listening to the gals stimulates the patient’s listening ability. Discussing the process with the patient helps in improving communication skills. Communication between the patient and the horse is beneficial, especially in patients struggling with PTSD and anxiety. Depending on the nature of the mental disorder, therapists leading equine-assisted support can use one of the following options; 

  • Cognitive Therapy 

The cognitive therapy option is majorly used for patients with anxiety. Once the horses sense danger from the patients, they respond by being very aware of their environment, in some situations by trying to flee the surrounding. Patients with anxiety disorders can feel the changes by observing the reactions, prompting them to share their anxiety issues with therapists. Focusing on the animals’ apprehensive nature rather than the patient significantly reduces the patients’ anxious response.

  • Physical Activities 

This is probably what comes to most people’s minds when they hear of emotional support horses. This alternative targets people struggling with anxiety, as they often try to avoid challenging and fearful activities beyond their comfort zones. In this situation, therapists allow individuals to choose activities that are beyond their skill level. The therapist can then assist them through the challenges. 

  • Activity Scheduling 

Most people with mental disorders often try to avoid inherent responsibilities in their daily lives, probably due to anxiety feelings. However, the more they avoid the situations, the more the level of anxiety perpetuates. Therefore, planning to care for the horse throughout the day can slowly teach affected persons a sense of responsibility. This enables them to focus away from anxiety and resume normal daily activities. 

emotional support horses
Equine-Assisted Therapy
  • Storytelling and Play Therapy 

As mentioned, most characteristics of horses are identifiable with humans. Among them include curiosity, play, freedom, and social drive instincts. Engaging in play therapy enables individuals to anticipate building relationships and limits. Storytelling, on the other hand, contributes to better creativity and language skills. 

Bottom Line 

Equine therapy for treating mental disorders is often used in families or group therapy since Emotional Support Horses easily show interpersonal behavior. The treatment is also goal-oriented and allows members of the group to work towards achieving one goal. Horses are a good choice due to their non-judgmental and unbiased nature. They also provide accurate mirroring and feedback, which helps alleviate various mental conditions.

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That said, contact ESA Doctors if you need more guidance on the use of emotional support horses. Healthcare professionals in the institution provide guidance on appropriate equine-therapy measures to stabilize your mental condition.

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