Archive for the ‘Emotional Support Animal’ Category

According to Service Dog Certifications, you can have 2 or more emotional support animals.

The presence of a furry or a scaly or a feathery companion can provide a form of unconditional love, acceptance, and support. This is why many mental health professionals are now prescribing an Emotional Support Animal to those patients that would benefit the most.

In this post, we will discuss the number of emotional support animals allowed, the laws governing ESAs, and how a person can get a legitimate Emotional Support Animal letter.

How Many Emotional Support Animals Can I Have?

You can have more than one ESA. There are no specific rules stating the maximum number of ESAs you may have. As long as the animal(s) does not violate any state or local laws and your therapist agrees your ESAs are there for your well-being, you can have more than one emotional support animal. The number of emotional support animals you have must also make sense. For example, having one or more horses in an apartment may not be feasible.

The Fair Housing Act states that a landlord, building manager, or owner of any rental unit must make reasonable accommodations for a person with an emotional support animal. As long as this reasonable accommodation clause does not cause any undue burden to the rental unit’s landlord, manager or owner.

The health and wellbeing of the ESA must also be addressed. All animals will need to be fed, groomed and given veterinarian care. Does your budget allow for these financial extras?

Can my landlord deny reasonable accommodations if I have multiple ESAs?

There are only a couple of circumstances that may allow your landlord to reject your emotional support animals.

When it comes to multiple ESAs, it would depend on the species and number of animals that are being housed. For example; 6 large dogs that bark in a small apartment or 2 goats in a condo can be considered an undue financial burden to the property owner.  Thus, challenging the reasonable accommodation clause.

How Do I Get an Official ESA Letter?

There is a simple process that needs to be followed to either make an existing pet an Emotional Support Animal or if you are going to adopt a new animal.

Step # 1 – Work with a Mental Health Professional

The law states that you must be working with a mental health professional such as a therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist. This mental health professional must then write you a prescription for the ESA in the form of an ESA letter.

Step # 2 – Get a legitimate ESA Letter from a Therapist

The letter is more than a few words scribbled onto your doctor’s prescription pad. The document must include or state  –

– Your therapist believes that an Emotional Support Animal would be beneficial in your treatment plan – The laws that protect you as an Emotional Support Animal handler – Your therapist’s direct contact information and licensing information – Written on your therapist’s official letterhead

The letter is typically only valid for one year.

Step # 3 – What if you do not have access to a therapist?

You may choose to work with a legitimate online ESA letter referral company. Not all online referral companies are the same. A few things to look out for –

Referral services that provide “instant approval” or are priced too low (under $100) – a real licensed therapist’s time is more valuable Referral services that pair you with an out of state therapist Make sure that your therapist’s licensing information is listed on the ESA letter Step # 4 – Register your Animal(s) and order your ESA License and Certificate

You are not legally required to have your ESAs registered, but some people chose to do so for the benefits. Certifying your emotional support animals will put you into a database, as well as provide you with custom identification cards, vest, and certificate.

Having this extra validation will help when you are applying for housing or booking a flight with your emotional support animal.

One, Two or More ESA’s Work!

When deciding how many emotional support animals are necessary, consider the space and time you have along with your finances. Once you have your ESA(s) and the letter you need from your mental health professional to make it legitimate you are well on your way to living a happier and healthier life.

The use of Assistance Animals can be a great help to those with various disabilities, but some people still don’t fully understand everything about them. Here we will debunk the 10 most common myths about Assistance Animals. We have also included links to helpful articles throughout this page that includes more information.

Myth #1 – Service Dogs, Emotional Support Animals, and Therapy Dogs are the same

This is absolutely not true! While each serves similar purposes – which is to aid the well-being of their owner in some way – Service Dogs, Emotional Support Animals and Therapy Dogs are used for very different forms of therapy and have different rights in the eye of the law.

Service Dogs are specifically trained to perform tasks that aid their owners’ disabilities, allowing them to live an independent lifestyle. Emotional Support Animals can be any animal that is used to provide their owner with emotional comfort and do not require special training. Therapy Dogs are often found in establishments where various forms of therapy are applied – ranging from care homes to physical rehabilitation centers. Their roles can vary significantly, from aiding a child to confidently read out loud from a book to assist those requiring physical therapy. A Therapy Dog is basically an ESA that helps a lot of people and not just their handlers. Unfortunately, therapy dogs do not enjoy the legal protection that the other assistance animals have. Myth #2 – Emotional Support Animals can come with me into hotels, restaurants, and markets

No – only ADA accredited Service Dogs may accompany their owners into public areas, as they will have been adequately trained and certified to behave appropriately, and are deemed a necessity for their owners. However, there are some exceptions. When adequate documentation has been presented, Emotional Support Animals are allowed to live with their owners, even in pet-free buildings, and travel with them in the cabin of airlines with ESA programs. Only animals that have received a Service Dog Certification are automatically granted public access rights.

Myth #3 – Service Dogs must wear a vest

Contrary to popular belief, it is not a legal requirement for Service Dogs to wear a vest. However, many Service Dog owners choose to have them wear a vest to avoid any unnecessary hassle.

Myth #4 – You need a doctor’s note for your Service Dog

A doctor’s note is not necessary for a Service Dog. When entering public establishments, it is only necessary to verbally inform staff of your Service Dog – if they ask. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) states they may only ask 2 questions:

Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability? What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

Service Dog owners may choose (though are not required) to order an ID card, as these can make the identification process much smoother. Rather than have to explain a disability, which can cause embarrassment, presenting an ID card can instantly verify the Service Dog. Emotional Support Animals, however, do require an ESA letter from a licensed therapist.

Myth #5 – It is illegal to qualify for an ESA letter online

Wrong. In fact, the opposite is true. Telehealth – a collection of means for enhancing the education and care of a patient – encourages online applications for ESA letters. Rules vary from state to state when obtaining an ESA letter. By using an accredited online organization that follow your state’s telehealth service laws, you can be sure you are abiding by your state’s relevant laws. 

Myth #6 – All ESA letter referral sites are the same

No. There is a broad range of referral sites ranging from mental health professionals who offer the provision of ESA letters as a part of their service, to dedicated single therapist letter mills. It is highly recommended to conduct as much independent research before choosing an ESA letter referral company, as you need to be certain the vendor is genuine and abides by your state’s rules.

Myth #7 – Each state has different Service Dog laws

No. Service Dogs are protected by federal law under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). However, Service Dog are subject to certain state-specific regulations. For example, Connecticut law recommends Service Dogs only access public areas with their owner while wearing a harness or an orange-colored collar and leash. 

Myth #8 – A landlord can reject an ESA or Service Dog if they do not feel the tenant has a disability or needs an ESA

Under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), landlords are permitted to accept tenants with an Emotional Support Animal, regardless of any pet-free policies they may have in place. If a landlord does not accept your ESA, you should file a claim with HUD (US Department of Housing and Urban Development). They will assist you with each step of your claim.

Myth #9 – Service Dogs are only for the blind and people in wheelchairs, all other service dogs are fake

While guiding and pulling are perhaps the most well-known tasks performed by Service Dogs, they perform a variety of other specific tasks to aid a disability of any form. It’s not just physical disabilities that Service Dogs can be used for, but mental disabilities, too. Here are some examples:

Visual impairment/blindness Hearing Impairments Mental illnesses such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or chronic depression Seizure disorder Mobility impairment Diabetes Myth #10 – Therapy dogs have the same access rights as ESA or Service Dogs

No. Therapy Dogs must be granted access by prior agreement to certain establishments such as hospitals, libraries, and skilled nursing facilities. While Service Dogs are legally permitted to accompany their owners in all public areas, and Emotional Support Animals are protected in certain areas such as housing and travel, Therapy Dogs do not benefit from similar access rights.

What Is an ESA Letter? 

An ESA letter is a prescription letter written by a licensed mental health professional (ie registered therapist, psychiatrist, psychologist) that recommends your pet as your Emotional Support Animal.

For those people who suffer from an emotional or mental disability, there’s a treatment that doesn’t involve drugs; an emotional support animal (ESA). You must find it difficult or unable to perform major life activities due to your emotional disability.

An ESA can be of any species and is there to provide comfort, companionship, and even a boost of confidence for you. However, having an emotional support animal may not be as simple as having a family pet and calling it an ESA.

In this post, we will take a look at the proper channels in which to get an emotional support animal and a legitimate ESA letter.

How Do I Get an ESA Letter?

The letter must be written on your mental health professional’s own letterhead and will include his/her name, license number, date of issue and place it was issued. It should also include his/her signature. Your ESA letter may only be accepted for one-year of the issued date so annual renewals may be required.

In order to qualify for an ESA letter, you must have a mental or emotional issue that falls under the documented illnesses laid out by the DSM-IV or V (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, version 4 or 5) which your mental health professional will either know of or have access to.

Who Will Accept My ESA Letter?

An emotional support animal is not considered a service animal and has different rights under Federal law.

Your ESA prescription letter should be accepted by “no pets” policy housing and will be presented to the building manager/owner. Once accepted you should have the same rights to the building and areas as any other tenant would. The landlord/owner of the building also cannot charge you any extra fees for having an ESA. However, if your animal should do damage to the property, you can be held liable and even evicted if the issue(s) are serious enough.

What Can I Do If My ESA Letter is Not Accepted?

Since there are a number of people trying to get special privileges for their family pets, building owners are becoming increasingly suspicious of ESA letters. This is why it is vital that you follow the rules for obtaining this important letter.

If you have a documented need for an ESA and your ESA is denied access to “no pets” policy buildings there are actions you can take.

The Fair Housing Act (HUD) protects people with emotional support animals, so they would be your first line of defense.

Your second option would be to contact a lawyer and have that person write a letter on your behalf to the building owner/landlord.

Lastly, there are ESA advocates that may also be able to step in and point you in the right direction.

However, be also aware that not all landlords have to accept an ESA. These circumstances include when the building has four or fewer single dwellings and the landlord occupies one of them and when the house has been rented or sold without a real estate broker (private sale).

You and Your ESA

Emotional support animals are more than pets and therefore you can exercise your rights to live with your ESA in most types of housing. Go through the proper channels to obtain a legitimate ESA letter, then start living your life to the fullest.

How to Get an ESA Letter Online?