You cannot always rely on medications to avoid having depressive, anxious feelings. At times, you need constant support. A presence that provides emotional support. This is where an emotional support dog comes in.
The United States allows mental health patients to use animal companionship as a way to aid treatment. These are called emotional support animals. Based on your preferences, you can have an emotional support dog, cat or any other domesticated animal. However, not every pet is an emotional support animal. You must have a legit ESA letter to call your dog or cat an ESA and enjoy the legal benefits of having one.
What Is An ESA Certification?
There is no recognized legal term as an ‘ESA certification’. You don’t need a certification or document of registration for your ESA. However, there is a legal term called the ‘ESA letter’ that is often interchangeably used with ESA certification.
An ESA Letter is a letter or ‘properly formatted prescription’ written by a state certified mental health physician. It prescribes an emotional support animal to a patient with a disabling mental or emotional condition. The letter explains the medical condition of the patient and also states the need of having an emotional support animal. The ESA letter basically states that a patient must have their emotional support dog or cat with them at all times to manage their mental health condition.
An ESA letter is a legal prescription by the US laws. If you get an ESA letter, you can access the legal benefits provided to ESA owners by the US government.
Steps to Get an ESA Certification for Your Dog
Step 1 : Find a legit doctor or clinic like My ESA Doctor
Step 2 : Fill in the application form
Step 3 : Complete an online medical evaluation with a licensed therapist or doctor.
Step 4 : Get approved and receive your ESA letter by email
NOTE : You don’t have to ‘register’ your ESA in any registry. An ESA letter is the only document and proof you need. Beware of all services that demand a ‘registration’ or ‘certification’.
The process is simple, easy and 100% online. With the help of telemedicine, you can complete the process from anywhere. There is no hassle of appointments or long queues. You can get an ESA letter whenever you are ready. All you have to do is follow the steps.
Now before you apply for an ESA certification, make sure that you are clear about having an ESA. You must also find out if you are eligible for the same or not.
Related : Who can write an ESA Letter?
Eligibility for Emotional Support Dog Certification
A patient is eligible for an emotional support dog certification if they are diagnosed to be suffering from a disabling mental or emotional disorder by a licensed mental health physician. Some of the most common mental health conditions that qualify for an ESA are –
- Anxiety disorders
- Bipolar disorder
- Learning disabilities
- Intellectual disabilities
There is no age requirement for having an ESA. You can get an ESA letter for emotional support if your doctor deems it necessary and explains the same with an appropriate ESA letter.
An ESA letter must be written by a licensed mental health physician such as a therapist, psychiatrist, social worker, etc. Any other doctor such as cardiologist or doctor of general medicine are not authorized to write an ESA letter.
How to Make Your Dog an Emotional Support Dog?
You can make your dog an emotional support dog by getting an ESA letter from a licensed mental health physician. Since it is a legally accepted document, your dog will be identified as an emotional support animal.
While there is no legal restriction of having a ‘certification’ or ‘registration’ to qualify your dog as an ESA, it is advised to carry an ESA letter. It is especially beneficial if your dog will be with you at all times. You can enjoy the legal benefits that come along with having an ESA.
Also Read : Emotional Support Animal vs Service Animals
Fair Housing Act
As per the Fair Housing Act of the HUD, no individual can be discriminated against or denied accommodation based on factors such as race, religion, and in this case, mental disability. The law provides those with a mental disability the right to a ‘reasonable accommodation’.
In simple words, a reasonable accommodation is a slight modification in the rules for having a residential property. In the case of people with emotional support animals, these rules include –
- No-pet policies
- Restriction on the number of pets
- Restriction on the size of the pet
- Restriction on the kind/breed of pet
- Pet deposits or fee
You can skip the restrictions of all these rules with an ESA letter. The landlord will have to accept your ESA irrespective of the breed or size and also exempt the pet deposits.
In order to provide a reasonable accommodation, the landlord may ask for documents proving your need for an ESA. In this case, an ESA certification or letter helps. But, you must always get it from reliable doctors or clinics. You can choose online clinics like My ESA Doctor to have a medical evaluation at home and get an ESA letter for your emotional support dog.
The modifications in the Air Carrier Access Act no longer mandates the acceptance of emotional support animals in an airplane cabin without additional fee. However, there are exceptions. Several airlines may allow your ESA in the cabin if it fits your lap or the leg space. Provided you pay the additional fee.
These rules and regulations will vary from one airline to another. So, you will have to contact the airline you are traveling with to understand their stance in the matter. In any case, an ESA letter will prove to be useful as it stands as a legally accepted document stating your need for an ESA.
Now that you know how to certify your dog as an emotional support animal, you can visit your doctor and get a letter right away. It will make your life easier. You can stop worrying about no-pet policies or expensive pet deposits and focus on having a healthy body and mind with your ESA.