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Emotional Support Animal

Guide for Emotional Support Animal Laws

Psychiatric conditions can greatly hinder one’s ability to carry out even the simplest of tasks. People can become depressed to the point that they begin considering suicide as a viable option; therefore, in such trying times, they need a reason to live. Affection and support from loved ones are great sources of relief, but what if someone does not have those?

After it was discovered that pets could take up the role of providing emotional relief, they became incredibly popular. Further, these animals were characterized as Emotional Support Animals (ESAs), and in order to govern them while providing necessary rights, some laws were formed.

Number of Emotional Support Animals Per Person

Often, people question the total number of emotional support animals that one person can have. This is a valid question, and we believe that it requires a proper answer. Currently, there are no rules in place that limit the number of emotional support animals per person.

This means that any one person can have any number of emotional support animals. Though, of course, they must also have a letter proving that all said animals are their ESAs and that they have a mental health condition that those animals assist with.

Proof Of a Pet Being an Emotional Support Animal

You may want to enjoy the benefits of having an emotional support animal, but you must go through some formal paperwork first. If you want your pet to be recognized as an emotional support animal, you should write an application to your therapist requesting the approval of said animal as an ESA.

Upon reviewing your application, and your mental condition, it is up to the doctor to accept your application after which you will receive your ESA recommendation letter. To verify if the letter is up to standards, check if it is in accordance with the following format:

  • States your mental health condition and the animal being used to help relieve those conditions.
  • Is written by a licensed mental healthcare professional authorized to work in your state.
  • Is written on a prescription letterhead is dated and contains the license as well as the contact information of the healthcare professional.

You can receive this letter online or offline based on your preference, and after receiving this letter you legally become an emotional support animal owner.  You can now even take your new ESA on some flights and conduct house-related activities.

Special Training for Emotional Support Animal

Since ESAs provide assistance in alleviating the mental instability of individuals, they are often believed to require special training. This, however, is not true. An emotional support animal is not the same as a service animal that is trained to perform specific tasks according to its owner’s needs.

That is why they require strict training, but such is not the case with emotional support animals. ESAs are simply pets that have been prescribed by a person’s therapist or psychiatrist to help ease their conditions and provide comfort. A pet does not require any formal training to be recognized as an emotional support animal.

Emotional Support Animal on Flights

Before January 11, 2021, emotional support animals were protected under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA). This law stated that all airlines needed to accommodate emotional support animals without exception, but this would later cause a huge uproar among the masses.

After the enforcement of this law, people were observed to be taking advantage of the system. They would pay to get an emotional support animal recommendation letter made and then fly with their pets free of cost. Some were bold enough to take exotic animals such as peacocks onto flights.

Some action was clearly needed, therefore on January 11, 2021, a new law was enacted by the U.S Department of Transportation (DOT). According to this law, airlines were no longer mandated to let emotional support animals on board, thus calming things down. However, some airlines still allow ESAs under their own terms and conditions. These terms and conditions vary from airline to airline so there is no need to be discouraged.

Housing Rules Regarding Emotional Support Animals

Some landlords have strict rules against keeping pets on property premises, but some people may have physical or mental conditions that make it compulsory for them to have an animal with them. These animals can either be service animals or emotional support animals depending on the person’s circumstances.

Therefore, to help people, the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) passed a bill known as the Fair Housing Act (FHA). According to this law, pets that provide physical or emotional assistance to their owners i.e., service animals, and ESAs must not be discriminated against when their owners are conducting housing-related activities.

Anyone with an emotional support animal is allowed to keep said animal even if the building’s policies stand against keeping pets. Landlords are allowed to ask for proof regarding a pet’s ESA status and any additional information. Rights provided to individuals with ESAs under the FHA include:

  • Exemption from extra fees and deposits concerning the emotional support animal.
  • Exemption from housing limitation based on the physical and genetic characteristics of the ESA.
  • Exemption from providing any detailed medical history about the person’s mental condition

Debunking Myths About Emotional Support Animals

If you often travel on flights, then you may have noticed a gradual increase in animals occupying passenger cabins. These animals can be emotional support animals (ESAs) or service animals.

Emotional support animals have observed a massive spike in popularity in recent years which has led to unsavory myths developing about them causing discord among the masses, but there is no need to fret since we are here to debunk all falsehood and bring about clarity.

What Are Emotional Support Animals?

First, let us get the basics down. ESAs are animals that help normalize their owner’s mood in case of mental conditions affecting their daily lives. These animals are simply pets whose mere presence is a source of comfort for their owners, and they, by no means, need to be specially trained by any institution.

If you are going through something and need emotional support, you can opt for an emotional support animal. You can even get your pet registered as your emotional support animal in the event that you already have one.

Myths About Emotional Support Animals

Now with that out of the way, the following is a list comprised of some common myths concerning ESAs and whether they are true or not:

Emotional Support Animals are a Scam

It is possible that this myth developed from a sense of animosity caused by ESAs occupying several spaces where animals were not allowed previously, and skepticism seeded by the atrocious amount of misinformation present on the internet. Regardless of the source, we can safely classify it as inaccurate.

In truth, emotional support animals have been scientifically proven to be beneficial to human health. Not only does petting animals help lower blood pressure, but they also aid in keeping stress, depression, and pensive sadness in check. They even assist in lowering agitation among Alzheimer’s patients alongside other health benefits.

You Can Fake a Pet as An Emotional Support Animal

Truthfully, this one is not entirely false. Unlike service animals that need to be trained by government-certified institutions, emotional support animals do not require any registration. If you have a mental condition, you must communicate your need to a licensed mental health professional, and he may assign you a letter that declares your pet as an ESA.

The problem arises with companies who are offering emotional support animal prescriptions for a sum of money without any real consultation with a mental health practitioner. This has caused society to become oversaturated with ESAs carried around by people who have no need for any.

Online ESA Registration is Not Possible

In this day and age, it can get incredibly difficult to go and meet people in person even if for a medical checkup.  Though, this has not been for the worse since it has uplifted the use and demand of online products. People are shifting towards the digital world since it makes things astoundingly efficient.

This begs the question that whether Online ESA registration is possible or not, and the answer is a resounding yes. No matter what anyone says, you can put in a plea for an ESA with any psychiatrist or therapist who offers their services online. They can review your application and write you a prescription if they find it appropriate to do so.

Some things to keep in mind are that the mental health professional that you are contacting must be authorized and licensed to work in your state. They must also understand the implications of an ESA and not make any unfounded claims.

The Law does Not govern emotional Support Animals

Such claims have absolutely no basis since several laws have been put into action regarding emotional support animals. The rights that ESAs have, include entry into housing spaces that typically do not allow pets on the premises. Airlines must also allow passengers to board flights alongside their ESA if sufficient proof is provided.

This does not mean that emotional support animals must be granted entry into all restricted spaces. A restaurant, shop, etc. may forbid the passage of an ESA beyond the front gates. Only service animals are allowed to enter all public locations under the “Americans with Disabilities Act”.

Therapy Animals and ESAs Are the Same

We have already explained what emotional support animals are, but there are times when ESAs are confused with therapy animals. Often after a natural disaster or war, people need some remedy for the terrible number of deaths caused by said things. That is where therapy animals step in.

Therapy animals are well-trained dogs whose main job is to provide comfort and ease for patients. You can often find therapy dogs inside hospitals and at sites of natural disasters. These animals are capable of handling public spaces, unlike ESAs who receive no formal training.

Service Animals Are the Same as Emotional Support Animals

Another common misconception is that service animals are the same as emotional support animals, which is entirely false. Service animals are required to graduate from authorized institutes where they are trained to perform specific tasks such as guiding blind people, fetching medication, etc.

It is mandatory for all service animals to be dogs, and they are granted special privileges that emotional support animals do not have. A good example would be the unrestricted entry into any public space, so they can do their job properly. Service animals are also protected by the “Americans with Disabilities Act” while ESAs are not.

ESA Letter Referral Sites Are a Scam

Yes, ESA referral sites are a scam, but not all of them. There are a plethora of sites out there that make baseless claims concerning emotional support animals. Even though they do provide you with an ESA letter, it is often not legitimate or does not match claims declared by the company beforehand.

Before you pay for an ESA letter, make sure that your therapist receives your application and is licensed. You should also check whether the company’s claims are true or not before making your final decision.

Only Dogs Can Be Emotional Support Animals

Although it is mandatory for both service animals and therapy animals to be dogs, emotional support animals face no such limitation. As long as it is legal to house that animal within your state, and your doctor provides you with an ESA prescription, you can adopt any animal as your emotional support animal.

ESA Prescriptions Can Last for Multiple Years

Claims such as this are often made by scam ESA referral sites. They try to coerce people into thinking that they will be able to get an ESA prescription from a verified professional that will last for multiple years or a lifetime. Since it is too bothersome to get the prescription renewed, people tend to fall for this scam occasionally.

If you see such a claim, you should immediately know that it is fake. Every ESA prescription only lasts for one year, after which it must be renewed by any mental health professional. You can get this letter online, or in person, but it will still expire after a year without exception.

Conclusion

The internet is a place where misinformation spreads like wildfire, therefore it is up to us as responsible citizens to separate fact from falsehood. Similarly, emotional support animals have been subject to unpleasant rumors that required some clarification, and we hope that you were able to educate yourself while grasping the truth.

 

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