Legitimate Emotional Support Animal Doctor’s Note
What is an ESA Doctor’s Note?
Do you know the difference between a Service Dog and an Emotional Support Animal? Many people lump these assistance animals into one category. However, they are not the same.
A Service Dog is an assistance animal that is specifically trained to perform a task for a disabled individual. This work could include any number of things. It could be as simple as picking up dropped items all the way to alerting the person to an oncoming health issue. You may read this article if you want to focus on training and certifying your dog into a service dog.
An Emotional Support animal is an assistance animal who provides love and comfort to a disabled individual. ESAs do not require special training and cannot pose any harm to others. You may choose to certify your dog as an ESA while you train them to become your service dog. Emotional Support Animals have two special rights. We will address it briefly below and you can also read more about them in detail here – ESA Travel and Housing Rights.
In this post, we will address the rights of the ESA and how one can go about getting a legitimate ESA letter.
What Are the Legal Rights of an ESA?
The Emotional Support Animal has specific rights under Federal Law. These rights are not as extensive as Service Dog rights, but are just as important.
The first right you have with your Emotional Support Animal is access to “no pets” policy rental units.
The landlord, building manager or owner must make reasonable accommodations for your ESA as long as it does not cause him/her undue financial or administrative burdens. These regulations are set by the FHA and the HUD.
Below are a few examples of reasonable accommodations and also what may not qualify.
- Example #1 – Sally has 2 ESA cats and 1 ESA dog. The landlord has a “one cat” only policy. However, they will grant Sally reasonable accommodations and allow her to live with her 3 ESA.
- Example #2 – Rick has two ESA dogs. The landlord has a specific “breed restriction” against pit bulls or dogs larger than 35lbs. They will still grant Rick reasonable accommodations so he can live with his 2 ESA dogs.
- Example #3 – Jenny has an ESA horse and lives in an apartment. The landlord can deny Jenny’s ESA horse housing access since having a horse in an apartment will cause the landlord undue burdens.
You can, however, be asked to leave or be denied housing if your ESA is destructive or causes any danger or is a threat to the other tenants. It is important that your ESA is well trained and does not hurt or disturb others.
The second right you have is to take your ESA into the cabin of an aircraft at no extra charge.
Once again, your Emotional Support Animal will have to be well-behaved, and it will be expected to sit on the floor in front of your legs. The ESA will also have to be of a reasonable size (you won’t get a fully grown anaconda on the plane, trust us).
Some airlines have their own form they require completed or have special wording request. You should always give your airline notice that you will be traveling with an ESA. If you just show up at the airport, you run being denied access if you do not have all the required documentation.
How Do I Get a Legitimate ESA Doctor’s Note?
Before you get an animal with the expectation of making it an Emotional Support Animal, there is a process to be followed to make it legitimate; the note from a licensed therapist who is well versed in ESA law.
Seeking medical help from a mental health professional is your first step. This person can help you with your condition and they can prescribe you an Emotional Support Animal as part of your treatment plan. The letter must be signed and dated and include your doctor’s license number, evaluation date, and direct contact information. This document may only be valid for one year.
Unfortunately, animal therapy is still a relatively new concept so not all doctors and therapists believe in emotional support animal therapy or may not be aware of ESA regulations. If this is the case, you can seek support from a referral service that specializes in supporting people in need, such as yourself, through the use of technology. You can connect with a doctor or therapist online using the link below.
Get On the Road to Recovery
If you are suffering from an emotional or mental illness, be sure to seek medical help. Once you are under a therapist’s care, ask them if they could provide you with an ESA letter. If so adopt an animal that you can bond with, then get on the road to recovery. The Emotional Support Animal may just be what will help you begin to live again