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There is a lot of information out there regarding this important subject, and some of it is misleading or just plain false. If you want to designate your dog as an emotional support dog (ESD) or an emotional support animal (ESA), it’s important to understand all of the requirements, rules, and regulations.
In this post, we will 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 ESA) is a pet or animal prescribed by a licensed therapist to provide a health benefit for those that suffer from an emotional or mental disability.
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 an additional fee for having an animal in their home. 2. Can I qualify for an Emotional Support Dog? Emotional support animals help people with depression, PTSD, anxiety, and more.
You may qualify for an emotional support dog if you have emotional or mental illnesses. If you suffer from one or more mental illnesses listed below, you may qualify for an emotional support dog.Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) Learning Disorders Autism General Anxiety Disorder Gender Identity Bipolar Cognitive disorders Depression Severe anxiety Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
If you suffer from anxiety, depression, or any of the illnesses listed above, you may be interested in having an official Emotional Support Animal. If you do not have access to a therapist, the next step is to learn more about how to get an ESA Letter online.3. Emotional Support Dog Training Requirements
An Emotional Support Dog does not require specialized training, unlike a Service Dog that does require extensive training. They must perform specific tasks to aid in their handler’s disability. Emotional Support Dog requirements are:Your ESD must be well behaved and under your control at all times. Your ESD cannot threaten the health and safety of others.
Although not required by law, your emotional support dog should also be spayed or neutered as this eliminates mating-related aggressive behaviors and also has the added benefits of not having litters of puppies.4. Emotional Support Dog Registration Requirements
The American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not require you to register your emotional support dog. People may prefer to register their dog since it helps with landlords or other members of the public you may encounter your ESA. In addition to registering your emotional support dog, you may also be interested in ordering a custom assistance animal handler identification card or certificate. Some building owners and employers train or require their employees to ask for this information even though you are not required to share it with them.5. Where to get an Emotional Support Dog Certificate
An ESA letter is commonly referred to as an Emotional Support Dog Certificate. You must have an ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional recommending your need for an emotional support animal. An Emotional Support Animal Letter must include:The ESA letter typically cannot be dated later than one-year of submission The ESA letter should be on your therapist’s official letterhead The ESA letter should include the therapist’s license number, date, and direct contact information
If you have a certificate without a legitimate ESA letter, landlords may not honor and respect your rights as an emotional support animal handler.6. Emotional Support Dog Vest Options Emotional support animals can live in “no-pets” apartments and condos without being charged extra fees.
An emotional support dog does not need to wear a special vest. However, some handlers prefer to have one. The ESD vest is a great way to identify your canine as a “working” dog and will help eliminate the confusion and questions you may encounter from the public. This is not to be confused with a service dog vest. You may also choose to allow your Emotional Support Animal to work as a Therapy Dog to help others in stressful environments. A certified therapy dog is not the same as an emotional support animal and has different requirements.7. Can my ESD go into restaurants or markets with me?
No, by law, your Emotional Support Dog will not be allowed into restaurants, markets, or any place where food is sold or served. Even if the employees want to allow access, they are legally required to turn you away due to health regulations. Only Service Dogs have public access rights to places such as restaurants and markets. Service dogs have specific rights and regulations; read more about Service Dog rules here.8. Where can my Emotional Support Dog go?
Under Federal Law and emotional support dog requirements, you will be allowed to bring your ESD into “no pets” policy apartments/housing without being charged any additional fees.9. 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 may even have more than one emotional support animal if your therapist recommends it.Emotional Support Dogs Work
Now that we’ve answered these common questions about emotional support dogs, you may be eligible for your own ESD. 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 get the process started. If you do not have access to a therapist or may be intimidated by seeking support, read more about how to get an ESA letter online. Emotional Support Dogs work!
What you need to know about having a Service Dog Certificate
Do you feel that having a service dog can help you with an emotional, mental or physical disability? Service dogs play an important role for people in need. However, you may have heard that service dogs can run upwards of $30,000! This is more than most people can afford. The good news is you can get a service dog without being rich.
In this informational post, we are going to cover some helpful tips on service dog and service dog laws. This includes tips on adopting your dog from a shelter or local rescue, what the dog needs to have to be considered a service dog, and how to get your canine a service dog certificate.
Where Can I Get a Service Dog?
As we mentioned earlier, service dogs that have been bred, born and raised/trained to be in this field can be unaffordable and unreasonable for most people. But on the upside, they will come fully able to do the specific tasks you require from the service dog.
But what if you can’t afford these exorbitant fees?
You do have other options such as adopting a dog from your local shelter or rescue.
Why adopt a dog from a rescue or shelter?Saving their life can save your life. Adopting a dog from your local shelter and rescue will provide you the feeling of knowing you are rescuing a life. The dog will know it too and provide you with unconditional love and affection. Adopting a dog from your local rescue or shelter are not only much less costly, but most have already been tested for illnesses, up-to-date on their vaccinations and (if old enough) have been spayed or neutered. Non-pure breed dogs are less prone to disease and genetic issues. Once you have trained your service dog, you will have a close connection that you will want to have for years and years.
What Should I Look for in a Potential Service Dog?
Since the point of having a service dog is to help an individual with daily life, this dog will have to be highly trained to be out in public places. With this in mind, the characteristics to look for in a potential service dog are;Calm temperament Willingness to be handled and eager to please Acceptance of strangers but alert of surroundings Willingness to be groomed Non-reactive to the business around them Motivated by treats or praise
Can I Train My Own Service Dog?
Yes! Once you have found a potential service dog, you have the options of either training it yourself or enlisting the help of a professional trainer. Training your service dog yourself is not as intimidating as it may seem at first! In addition, if you train your service dog yourself you have a deeper and more meaningful connection.
The first training your puppy or dog will require is the basic obedience. This includes sit, stay, down, and wait. Once your canine has these skills in place, then the training becomes more specific to your own needs.
How Long Does It Take to Train a Service Dog?
Each dog is different. Some dogs require 6 months of training while others can pick up new skills and tasks within a few weeks. The ADA Service Dog guidelines do not include mandatory training time. As long as your dog is well behaved in public and is trained to assist you with your disability, they can be considered your service dog(s). Once your service dog is able to help assist with your disability, you are able to take them into public places. Public places include restaurants, hotels, airlines, parks, beaches, and even your office.
ADA Service Dog Registry Requirements
Unfortunately, there are some people who may attempt pass off their untrained pet as a service dog. For this reason, airlines, restaurants, apartment managers/owners and other business have the right to enquire about what tasks your service dog provides for you and many will ask to see your service dog certificate.
Although, you may not necessarily need a service dog certificate as the ADA does not require this, having one helps you legitimize your need for one. This is also extremely beneficial if your disability is not clearly identifiable by the general public (ie you’re not in a wheelchair etc.). In addition, this will also help staff or government employees from discriminating against you accidentally. Unfortuantely, Service Dog rights are not part of standardize training.
Once your dog is fully trained, your next step will be to register your service dog and obtain a service dog certificate.
If you are not ready to train your dog to become a service dog, you may be interested in certifying your dog to become an Emotional Support Animal. Emotional Support Animals are Federally protected and can live with you in ‘no-pet’ housing and fly with you inside the airplane cabin. Emotional Support Animals do not have to be specially trained, unlike service dogs. For more information on Emotional Support Animals, here is a helpful article.
A Service Dog Certificate Makes Life a Bit Easier
Once your dog is fully trained to be in service, it’s well worth your time, money and effort to get a service dog certificate. Not every business or person may be as willing to accept your canine as a service dog, so having a physical custom service dog identification card or a digital copy on your phone, will save you time, stress, and frustration.
Having a service dog certificate just makes life a bit easier…