Posts Tagged ‘esa letter’

What is an Emotional Support Dog?

Anyone who has owned a dog knows the unconditional love and support they give.  There’s nothing like coming home from a bad day at work and waiting for you at the door is your furry friend waiting to give you all the love you need and turn your day around.  Because of their ability to provide support and unconditional love, the mental health profession has begun using dogs (and other animals) as emotional support for individuals with varying mental health issues.  Emotional support dogs have been shown to help individuals suffering from the following:

Aerophobia (the fear of flying) Agoraphobia (the fear of leaving the home) Anxiety Depression General Anxiety Disorder PTSD Social Shyness Stress-Induced Situations

With the help of emotional support dogs, those suffering from the above disorders have been able to begin recovering and regaining the confidence and freedom with the help of their emotional support dog.

How Can I Make My Dog An Emotional Support Dog?

Get an ESA letter from a licensed medical healthcare provider. Provide your ESA letter to your landlord or airline representative. Get your ESA identification card and register your Emotional Support Dog. Enjoy living and traveling with your Emotional Support Dog.

In order to receive the rights under the laws afforded to emotional support dogs, the dog must be prescribed by a mental health professional for an individual who is suffering from a disabling mental illness.  Emotional support dogs do not have to be licensed or registered, but you do need to have an ESA letter written by a mental health professional (on their letterhead) that states that you are suffering from an emotional disability and the emotional support dog is vital to your wellbeing.  The letter must be signed, dated, and include the mental health professionals license number and the date and place where their license was issued. It is important to note that the letter prescribed by your mental health professional is only valid for one year.  Emotional support dogs do not require any specific training and the only difference between them and a pet is a letter from the prescribing mental health professional.  While emotional support dogs are not required to be registered many individuals choose to register their support dog and carry an identification card and have their dog wear an ESA (emotional support animal) vest because it makes it easier to travel with their emotional support dog.

Click Here to Qualify for Your ESA Letter

What Rights Do Emotional Support Dogs Have?

While emotional support dogs (animals) are afforded rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act it is important to understand that they are not afforded the same rights as service dogs or psychiatric service dogs.  Service dogs have been specifically trained to help perform tasks for individuals with disabilities and have the right to accompany them into any place the normal public has access to.  Because service dogs are trained and are needed by a disabled individual to perform tasks like pulling a wheelchair, alerting an individual they are about to have a seizure, or assisting a visually impaired individual across the street they are afforded more rights than are emotional support dogs.  There is also a difference between psychiatric service dogs and emotional support dogs as again they are specifically trained to help assist individuals suffering from a disabling mental illness.  Psychiatric service dogs are trained to detect and recognize the beginning of a psychiatric episode and then help to ease the effects of that psychiatric episode, once again because they are specially trained and licensed they are afforded more rights than emotional support dogs.  When out in public establishments including restaurants, theaters, stores etc. have the right to ask two questions:

Do you need the animal because of a disability? What work or tasks has the animal been trained to perform?

If an individual is unable to answer these two questions then they do not have a service animal that is protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the establishment has the right to refuse to allow the animal on their premises.

Because emotional support dogs lack specific training and licensing they do not have as many rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but they do receive some rights and they include the following:

Fair Housing Act (FHA) – Under this act individual with emotional support animals are allowed to have them in their residence even if there is a no pet rule in effect.  Emotional support animals are protected and property managers are required to make accommodations for them. Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) – Under this act individual with emotional support animals are allowed to have them on airplanes, and the airline must make accommodations for them.


While emotional support dogs provide an essential service to many individuals suffering from certain mental health issues, because they do not require any specialized training, registration, or licensing they are not afforded the same rights as service dogs are.  Having said this, they are protected under housing rights and air travel rights so you can still live and travel with your emotional support dog even if you can’t take them to the local restaurant with you.  Since qualifying for an emotional support dog only require a letter from your mental health professional you can receive the benefits from your own animal saving you time and money searching for a dog that provides you with the emotional support you need.

Step by step guide – How to Get an ESA Letter for Flying

Have you seen dogs in the airport and wonder why they are allowed to fly? Chances are, they are emotional support animals. Below we will address steps to qualify for an ESA Letter so you may travel with your dog.

Step #1 -Understand and identify your disability Do you qualify for an ESA letter? You can qualify for an ESA letter if you have disabilities as noted in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). A few examples are: – Depression – Social Anxiety Disorder – Anxiety Disorder – Post-traumatic Stress Disorder – Panic Attacks – and more What is an Emotional Support Animal?

An Emotional Support Animal is a pet that provides comfort and love to their handler. An ESA can be any type of animal through an Emotional Support Dog is the most common choice.

An Emotional Support Dog, unlike a Service Dog, does not require special training but does have to be well behaved.

Step #2 – Understand your rights Why are Emotional Support Animals allowed to fly?

The Air Carrier Access Act allows you to fly on an airplane with an Emotional Support Animal.

Emotional Support Animals are protected by the Air Carrier Access Act. What is the ACAA? The ACAA is a specific part of the US Code that prohibits commercial airlines from discriminating against passengers with disabilities.

As a result, the airlines cannot charge a fee for your emotional support animal. Most airlines have a $150+ fee for traveling with your ESA. If you have an ESA letter, this fee is waived.

In addition, the airlines cannot impose a breed or weight restriction. They will also need to provide reasonable accommodations for you assuming you have a larger ESA (such as a 100 lb dog). This includes allowing you to sit in premium seats with more leg room so that your ESA has a place to lie down. Note: this only applies to reasonable requests, for example, you cannot bring a horse on the plane.

Step #3 – Qualify for a Legitimate ESA letter How to qualify your dog as an Emotional Support Animal

If you feel that you may qualify for an Emotional Support Animal, you may contact your therapist for support. If your therapist is unaware of ESA regulations, you may refer to a legitimate online referral company for support. It is important that you work with a therapist who believes in animal therapy and understands the regulations as an ESA letter requires specific language.

Click here to qualify for your ESA letter

If you qualify for an Emotional Support Animal and have an ESA letter, we recommend that you submit your ESA letter to the airline ahead of time for approval. Each airline has their own policy and procedure so it’s better to be aware of it ahead of time so you do not run into any problems at the airport.

You are not required to register your Emotional Support Animal – only an ESA letter from a licensed therapist may make your pet an official Emotional Support Animal.

Step #4 – Train your ESA to be a “good citizen”

Although an Emotional Support Animal or Dog does not require special training, they need to be well behaved. This needs to be practiced before you arrive at the airport. Not only do the airlines have a right to deny you access if they can show your ESA may cause harm to others, but it is hurtful to other ESA handlers.

Below are examples of good citizen behavior – Walking with you and within the leash length – not pulling or lunging – Ignoring food on the floor or in other passenger’s hands – Not barking or lunging – Sitting and staying on command Step #5 – Prepare your ESA for success What you need to do for your ESA – Exercise and prepare for your ESA’s flight

As mentioned earlier, we recommend that you notify your airline at least 48 hours in advance. This will give them a chance to inform you of their policy and procedure as well as make reasonable accommodations for you. We recommend contacting them as soon as you book your fight and no longer than 48 hours in advance.

– Do not give your ESA food or water 3-4 hours before flight – make sure they have ample opportunity to relieve themselves before the flight – Prepare treats for good behavior in the airport – this is an excellent opportunity to reward them for positive behavior and enforce it for the next trip. Your ESA should associate the airport as a fun place where they get tons of treats in return for behaving well. – Make sure your ESA exercise 1-2 hour before flight, this will help them get rid of excess energy – You may also choose to give your ESA Dramamine for motion sickness or Benedryl to help them sleep. Each animal is different, please consult your veterinarian before giving your ESA medicine.

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


More articles that you may find helpful:

Emotional Support Animal Laws

What to do if Your Landlord Does Not Accept Your ESA

What Is an ESA Letter? 

An ESA letter is a prescription letter written by a licensed mental health professional 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).

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.

What is an ESA Letter & How Do I Get One?

An ESA letter is a prescription letter written by your mental health professional (ie registered therapist, psychiatrist, psychologist) stating that the animal you have been prescribed is there to assist you in living a normal life. You must find it difficult or unable to perform major life activities due to your emotional disability. However, if you have suicidal thoughts or tendency, a therapist may not be able to assist you through tele-health therapy ethics.

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 Prescription 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 both airlines and “no pets” policy housing.

When flying with your ESA, you are asked to make your reservations at least 48 hours in advance and to let them know you will be flying with an emotional support animal. You will be expected to present your ESA letter in order for your dog/cat/bird etc. to be allowed into the cabin of the aircraft at no extra charge to you.

When it comes to “no pets” policy housing, your ESA letter 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 use family pets to get special privileges, airlines and building owners are becoming more suspicious of the ESA letters. This is why it is vitally important that you follow the rules to obtaining this important letter.

If you have a documented need for an ESA and your ESA is denied access to “no pets” policy buildings or the airline 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 less 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).

If your ESA letter is not accepted by the airline, there should be a contact number that each airline will provide (in person or on their website) for further assistance. Some airlines have special wording request or even their own document to complete.  This is why it is important to notify the airline ahead of time so you feel confident that you are traveling with all the correct paperwork.

You and Your ESA

Emotional support animals are not only pets and therefore you can exercise your rights to having one when it comes to both housing and airlines. Go through the proper channels to obtain a legitimate ESA letter, then start living your life to the fullest. If you have problems with either landlords or airlines, then contact the appropriate service to get the rights you deserve.

How to get an ESA Letter Online