Archive for the ‘Emotional Support Animal’ Category

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?

Are you confused when it comes to emotional support dog requirements? You’re not alone. There is a lot of information out there on this important subject, some of which is misleading or just plain false. 

If you want to designate your dog as an emotional support dog (ESD), it’s important to understand all of the requirements, rules, and regulations.

In this post, we answer some of the most commonly asked questions about emotional support dogs/animals.

1. What is an emotional support dog?

An emotional support dog (ESD or emotional support animal, ESA) is a dog that is recommended by a licensed doctor, therapist, counselor, or social worker to help those that suffer from an emotional or mental health condition. 

Emotional Support Dogs have rights that normal pets do not:

An ESA has access to almost all types of housing regardless of no-pet policies. ESAs are protected under the Fair Housing Act so that they can live with their owners. Under this law, an ESA owner cannot be charged any fees for having an animal in their home. 2. Can I qualify for an emotional support dog? Emotional support dogs help people with depression, PTSD, anxiety, and more.

You can qualify for an emotional support dog if you have an emotional or mental illness(es). If you suffer from one or more mental conditions listed below, you may qualify for an emotional support dog.

Attention deficit disorder (ADD) Learning disorders Autism Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) Gender dysphoria Bipolar disorder Cognitive disorders Depression Severe anxiety Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

It is up to a licensed healthcare professional to determine whether you have an eligible condition for owning an emotional support dog.

3. Emotional support dog training requirements

ESAs do not require specialized training, unlike service dogs, which require extensive training. Service dogs must perform specific tasks to aid in their handler’s disability. 

While ESAs do not need any specialized training, they should still be well-behaved and under your control at all times. A landlord can kick out an emotional support dog if it is acting in an unsafe or destructive manner.

4. Emotional support dog registration requirements

Federal and state rules do not require you to register your emotional support dog. You also do not need a vest or ID card for your emotional support animal. Many ESA owners, however, choose to voluntarily register their animals and obtain ID cards and other accessories.

These items are helpful in buildings that normally don’t allow pets. They notified staff and other tenants that a legally protected assistance animal accompanies you. However, remember that your landlord can insist on seeing your ESA letter but not any other form of documentation.

5. Where to get an emotional support dog certificate

Many people think they need to obtain an ESA “certificate” to qualify their dog as an emotional support animal. They are often confusing a certificate with an ESA letter. You can obtain a certificate for your emotional support dog after getting an ESA letter, but a certificate alone will not qualify your dog as an ESA. 

You must have an ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional confirming your need for an emotional support animal. An ESA letter should have the following: 

The ESA letter should be dated within one year of submission The ESA letter should be on your provider’s official letterhead The ESA letter should include the provider’s license number, date, and direct contact information 6. Emotional support dog vest options Emotional support dogs can live in “no-pets” apartments and condos without being charged extra fees.

Emotional support animals can live in “no-pets” apartments and condos without being charged rent or fees. An emotional support dog does not need to wear a special vest when on the premises. 

However, some owners prefer to have one. The ESD vest is a great way to identify your canine as a legal assistance animal and will help prevent any confusion and questions you encounter from building staff and neighbors.

7. Can my ESD go into restaurants or markets with me?

No, emotional support dogs are not allowed in public places that prohibit pets. ESAs have rights under federal and state housing laws but not under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The only type of mental health assistance animal that has public access rights are psychiatric service dogs.

8. Are there breed or weight restrictions for emotional support dogs?

No, your emotional support dog can be of any size and breed. This rule even protects breeds that are commonly discriminated against, such as Pit Bulls or Dobermans. You can even have more than one emotional support animal if your therapist recommends it.

Emotional support dogs work

If you believe you or a loved one may benefit from an ESD, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with your mental health professional to start the process. 

If you do not have access to a healthcare professional or are intimidated by the idea of reaching out for help, consider using an online service to get your ESA letter. ESA rules specifically allow for remote online providers to write ESA letters, so your letter will be just as valid as one obtained in person.

Can Cats be Emotional Support Animals? 

Cats make wonderful pets. But did you know they can also provide those with emotional challenges the added support they need to live a full life?

In this article, we will explore the following:

What is an emotional support cat? The ESA certification and registration process Types of animals that can be service animals and emotional support animals What an ESA letter is and why it’s necessary What the laws have to say about having more than one emotional support cat 1. Emotional Support Cat Provides Comfort

An emotional support animal can be of any species, including cats. An emotional support animal or ESA does not require any special training. An ESA is there to provide a person with an emotional or mental disability the support they need to live a normal or better life.

Cats can be beneficial as an emotional support animal as some breeds of felines are very human orientated. This means they love to spend time with their human companion. Some of these cat breeds include the Persian, the Ragdoll, the Abyssinian, the Burmese, the Maine Coon and the Exotic Shorthair. However, that doesn’t mean a mixed breed feline (Moggy) cannot be just as loyal and dedicated to their human.

2. Legitimate Emotional Support Cat Registration

Although it is not required by law to register your feline as an ESA, some people choose to do so for its many benefits. These include having access to custom ID cards, certificates and even vests to identify the cat as an ESA. If you already have an ESA letter for your Emotional Support Animal, you may register your cat here.

Can a Cat Be a Service Animal?

Unfortunately, no. The job of a service animal falls to canine species and miniature horses. These animals need to be specifically trained to do a task for a disabled individual. This can include picking up dropped items, opening doors or alerting the person to a drop in their blood sugar or of an oncoming seizure. Even though cats can be highly intelligent and trainable, the depth of training needed for a service animal is usually beyond the scope of the feline species. Most importantly, even if you trained your cat to perform services for you, they will not be protected under the ADA.

However, you still have rights under Federal Law with your emotional support cat. Landlords must reasonably accommodate your ESA, even if they have a “no pets” policy. The landlord cannot charge you extra for your ESA, but your cat must be well behaved and not pose a health or safety issue to other tenants. 

3. Emotional Support Cat Certification

All that is needed to make your cat a legitimate emotional support animal is a letter from a therapist or mental health professional. In order for an ESA letter to be accepted by “no pets” housing, the letter must be written and signed by a licensed healthcare professional. The ESA letter must also be written on the therapist’s own letterhead, with his/her license number and the place/date it was issued. In addition, the ESA letter must have been issued within one year of the time of submission.

If you do not have access to a therapist in your own area or they do not understand the benefits of animal therapy, you may seek support from a legitimate online resource. We have a helpful post on getting your ESA letter online here.

4. How Many Emotional Support Cats Can I Have?

Under the Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA) people with diagnosed mental or emotional disabilities are allowed to have an ESA. Landlords and/or building managers must make allowances for ESA’s in “no pets” policies buildings, but this could be nullified if there were too many animals (cats) to keep the residence safe for both tenants and animals. Since the FHA does not specify how many ESA a person can have, as long as the number is reasonable to your therapist, you can have more than one.

Cats can be wonderful emotional support animals. 5. Emotional Support Cats Can Work, Too

If you are suffering from an emotional or mental disability, then an emotional support cat may be “just what the doctor ordered.” Cats can make loving, dedicated and supportive ESA’s that can help you get on with the rest of your life. Check with your therapist or mental health professional to see if you qualify for an emotional support cat. You may also seek support from an ESA letter referral service.