Archive for the ‘Emotional Support Animal’ Category

An emotional support animal (ESA) can be any type of small, domesticated animal customarily kept in the home. All kinds of animal companions serve as ESAs, but dogs are perhaps the most popular type of emotional support animal. Dogs and other ESAs can provide therapeutic comfort for those suffering from various mental and emotional issues such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. 

Federal and state laws have requirements for how an owner proves that their dog is an emotional support animal. Under these ESA laws, the owner of an ESA needs a recommendation letter from a licensed mental health professional. In this article, we explore how you can qualify for an emotional support dog. 

Ask Your Therapist for an ESA Letter

Ask a licensed mental health professional (LMHP). If you’re interested in qualifying for an emotional support dog, the first place to turn for help is your existing therapist. That can be a psychologist, psychiatrist, counselor, social worker, registered nurse, physician’s assistant, or other licensed professional that is familiar with your mental and emotional health. Physicians are also capable of writing ESA letters but may not be familiar with ESAs or your mental health history. If your current therapist or doctor agrees you have a condition that qualifies for an emotional support animal, they may write you an ESA letter. The ESA letter will be signed and dated on the professional’s letterhead and contain a “prescription” (more accurately, a recommendation) for an emotional support animal. 

Valid letter, official ESA status. Once you are in possession of an ESA letter, your dog is an official ESA. You can present this letter to your housing provider to prove your dog is a proper emotional support animal. Discussing your mental and emotional health with someone can be challenging, and you may also feel apprehensive about asking whether an emotional support dog is right for you. It’s always best, however, to be open and transparent about the issues you are dealing with when talking to a health care professional and also to suggest solutions that you think may help you. 

Emotional support dogs are used by countless people suffering from mental and emotional disorders. Emotional support dogs can be an essential part of feeling better and can work in conjunction with other modes of treatment, such as therapy and medication. Having an emotional support dog by your side can help you face your issues head-on and navigate more comfortably through challenging situations that arise in life. Many therapists understand the benefits of emotional support animals and will write ESA letters for qualifying clients.

If your existing healthcare setup is not enough, there are other options for you. 

Some therapists are not familiar with ESA rules or do not feel capable of writing ESA letters, and they might refer clients to other professionals. Some people with mental health conditions don’t have a therapist or can’t afford one. Many also find it difficult to do in-person visits or to fit sessions into a busy schedule.

If you’re having trouble finding a qualified therapist to recommend an ESA, there are fortunately valuable online resources that can help guide you in the right direction.

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Get Your ESA Letter Online

More people than ever are turning to the convenience of using online therapists. With online technology, it has never been easier to find help from a licensed professional without ever having to leave your home. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an even greater appreciation for these services, which offer a cost-effective way for people to find the help they need. If the idea of seeing a therapist in person makes you anxious or scared, that’s another great reason to explore using an online service. ESA letters issued online are just as valid as those issued in person.

How to find the right online source for an ESA letter

Here are several things to look out for when you start looking for an ESA letter provider:

They have a documented and verifiable reputation They follow the proper procedures They pair you with a licensed mental health professional (LMHP) in your state The LMHP is able and qualified to write ESA letters The provider and LMHP are aware of the relevant regulations (Fair Housing Act) and follow them

When you submit information about your need for an ESA, you divulge sensitive, confidential information. You want to make sure that you’re in trusted hands when you share this information online. Be sure the platform you are using is secure and respects client confidentiality.

One of the oldest and leading providers of ESA services is ESA Doctors. They have helped thousands of people find licensed professionals who have helped them qualify for an emotional support dog. If you think an emotional support dog could improve your mental health, don’t hesitate to get the help you deserve.

Click Here to Get Your ESA Letter Training your Emotional Support Animal

A popular misconception about emotional support dogs is that they need specialized training. This misunderstanding likely stems from confusing emotional support dogs with service dogs, which are governed by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Unlike service dogs, emotional support dogs do not need any specific training. While ESAs provide therapeutic support to their owners through companionship and affection, Service dogs undergo highly specialized training to assist with a disability. One such example is a dog that is trained to protect its handler’s head during a seizure. Nonetheless, all emotional support dogs should undergo basic obedience and behavioral training so they can coexist peacefully with other animals and tenants without being a nuisance or danger to anyone.

Know Your Rights as an ESA Owner

Owners of emotional support dogs have special rights under federal and state laws.

Under the Fair Housing Act

Tenants are allowed to live with their emotional support animals, even in buildings that prohibit pets. Landlords are prohibited from imposing fees and deposits for emotional support dogs, even though such fees and deposits may be applicable for regular pets.  Emotional support animals are exempt from restrictions on a dog breed or weight. 

To take advantage of these benefits, you need to present your landlord with a valid ESA letter. If you’re interested in seeing if you qualify for an ESA letter, ESA Doctors can help connect you to an understanding professional who will treat you with respect and kindness.

No! Emotional Support Animals are NOT fake Service Dogs.

There are major legal differences between emotional support animals and service animals. Knowing the difference will help you in understanding your rights. It will also determine how you go about obtaining the right documentation and identification for your animal.

What is the Purpose of Emotional Support Animals and Service Animals 

By helping individuals with disabilities function better in society, emotional support animals (ESAs) serve a higher purpose than regular house pets. The sole purpose of an emotional support animal is to provide therapeutic benefits to individuals with mental, emotional or psychological disabilities.

On the other hand, service animals provide direct assistance to people with disabilities. A service animal’s main purpose is to perform functions and tasks that individuals with disabilities cannot perform themselves. Direct assistance includes guiding individuals who are blind, picking up items, or alerting and calming a person experiencing a panic attack/anxiety.

What Kinds of Animals can be Emotional Support Animals?

Emotional support animals are not limited to just dogs. All domesticated animals can qualify as an emotional support animal as long as they are not a nuisance and are manageable in or around public areas.

Under titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), service animals are limited to dogs and, in some cases, miniature horses. The animal must be able to perform tasks directly related to the owner’s disability. Although service animals are limited to dogs and miniature horses, the ADA does not restrict the type of dog breeds.

Training Requirements for ESA’s and Service Dogs

Emotional support animals are not required by law to have special training because their role is to provide emotional comfort, companionship, friendship, and affection to their owner or handler. Their presence mitigates stress associated with the owner’s psychological or emotional disability.

However, service animals are required under law to be highly trained to work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. To ensure good public behavior and adequate support, dogs undergo extensive training before they become service animals. While every state has different laws regarding training, it can take roughly 1 to 2 years to train a service dog although there are not age requirements. Although training is required by law, people with disabilities are not required to use a professional service dog training program. They may train their service animal themselves. 

Documentation for ESA’s and Service Animals

Emotional support animals are not covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Owners are required to acquire an ESA letter, provided by a licensed mental health professional before they are granted access to apartments with a no-pets policy. The letter should state how the owner’s disability substantially limits their lifestyle and how an emotional support animal is necessary for treating their mental health.

Service animals, on the other hand, are entitled to accompany their owners in all public areas and facilities. Under ADA, businesses are only allowed to ask (1) if the dog is required due to a disability and (2) what task the dog has been trained to perform. Unlike owners of emotional support animals, service animal owners are not required to show documentation. Some service animal handlers may chose to carry an service dog identification card or have a vest on their service dog to avoid harassment by people who are ignorant to service dog rights. 

We hope this helps clarify some misperceptions you may have had on Emotional Support Animals and Service Dogs! Share this article to help your friends or family find the help they may need. 

Having a cat brings the same positive effects as dogs. These pets can be equally beneficial to a person’s health. Experts have proven that cat owners are less likely to have a health emergency, such as a heart attack, with their feline companion around and cats have also been proven to help alleviate sleeping disorders, high blood pressure and other health problems.

But can cats be trained to work just like service dogs do? Are they extended the same adjustments as service dogs?

The law on service animals has been established for years and recognizes dogs as the most common provider. The provisions in the 2008 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) stated: “The term service animal includes individually trained animals that do work or perform tasks for the benefit of individuals with disabilities, including psychiatric, cognitive, and mental disabilities. The term service animal does not include wild animals (including nonhuman primates born in captivity), reptiles, rabbits, farm animals (including a pony, pig, or goat), ferrets, amphibians, and rodents.  Animals whose sole function is to provide emotional support, comfort, therapy, companionship, therapeutic benefits, or to promote emotional well-being are not service animals.”

However, on March 15, 2011, the ADA amended this provision to certify that dogs are the only recognized service animals (see amendments here) so as to prevent confusions from the public. So, where does this leave cats? Why are there people having cats as their service animals?

Can cats be service animals?

No, but cats can qualify as emotional support animals if you have doctor write a letter for an emotional support animal. Emotional support animals can fly in the cabin of an aircraft and can live in “no pets” apartments, but they do not have the same level of access as service animals and cannot be taken everywhere service dogs are allowed. In this case, cats cannot be extended the same acknowledgement as service dogs.

However, certain establishments might be willing to make adjustments and could make exceptions on a case to case basis for cat owners. It’s best to check with management before bringing the cat to their premises to avoid any untoward incidence.

Looking to Certify your Cat as an ESA Online?