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How to Qualify for An Emotional Support Animal

Updates to Emotional Support Animal Laws 

Emotional Support Animals recently lost the right to fly with their handlers though they have maintained the right to live with their handlers in apartments, condos, co-ops, and communities that don’t allow regular pets. As a result of this change, more and more Emotional Support Animal owners are looking to train their ESA’s to be Psychiatric Service Animals. If you are interested in learning more about Psychiatric Service Animals, you may find this page helpful. 

How to Qualify for An Emotional Support Animal

If you have an emotional disability, you can legally qualify for an ESA, short for emotional support animal. You must be certified as emotionally disabled by a psychologist, therapist, psychiatrist or other duly-licensed and/or certified mental health professional. This certification should be a formal and appropriately formatted letter, known as an ESA Letter.

Any other kind of doctor – a cardiologist, for instance – does not quality as a mental health professional because unlike a psychiatrist, other medical doctors are not specialists in mental health. Some property managers of apartments and airlines, however, accept verification forms filled out by a family physician if they are treating you for a mental illness. Ensure that you have the correct authority write the letter for you.

To qualify for an Emotional Support Animal, your ESA letter must be written on the mental health professional’s letterhead, include his or her license type, date of license, license number, and the state which issued the license. Moreover, it should have the date when it was written. A sample of the request letter can be viewed at the official website of Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, but there are other websites that have the same kind of samples which you may prefer.

What the Letter Must Contain

Your ESA letter must contain some details which will inform the airline or your landlord that you are:

  • A current patient of the signing mental health professional.
  • Under this mental health professional’s care for your disability which is described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of Mental Disorders Version V.
  • Substantially limited in performing or participating in at least one of life’s major activities because of your disability.
  • Having an Emotional Support Animal is an integral part for the treatment of your current condition.
  • The ESA letter must be dated no later than a year from the date of your departure if it is for air travel

What Disorders Qualify You as An Emotional Support Animal Owner

To help you further on qualifying for an ESA, you may want to read through the list of some of the disorders stipulated in the previously mentioned DSM-V:

  • Learning disorders.
  • Attention Deficit Disorder also known as ADD.
  • Sexual disorder.
  • Mental retardation.
  • Tic disorders.
  • Motor skills disorders.
  • Bipolar disorder.
  • Gender identity.
  • Substance-related disorder (alcohol and/or drugs, among others).
  • Cognitive disorders.

Emotional Support Animal Training

Unlike service animals, ESA’s are not required to be trained to perform a service for their handlers. An ESA provides emotional support for their handlers and can qualify as long as the animal does not cause a disturbance or undue hardship for an apartment manager/owner. For more information on ESA’s and service animals, please contact Service Dog Certifications.

See if you qualify for an Emotional Support Animal letter from ESA Doctors by clicking the link below.

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152 comments

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  1. Veterans and their Pet Friends: Assistance Animals in the Workplace - Know A Vet
    […] you can present to landlords and airlines. For more information on emotional support animals, click here. For more information…

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Want an extra layer of support for your Psychiatric Service Dog? You can work with a licensed healthcare professional who specializes in assistance animals to see if you qualify for a PSD letter.

ESADoctors will contact you directly to fulfill your request. If you need any additional services, please contact ESADoctors. If the therapist you are paired with cannot assist you, you are eligible for a full refund. Per our standard policy, all sales are final.