A cat in a convenience store, a dog in the cabinet of an airplane, and a bird in a restaurant: what do all of them have in common? All these animals function as emotional support animals (ESAs). The current trend of showing up with an ESA in public places is growing rapidly. It is not a part of a culture or a growing lifestyle, rather a cause that provides emotional assistance to individuals with mental disabilities.
However, there are certain laws associated with emotional support animals and you have to comply with the laws. One of the laws clearly states that you need to first have a qualifying mental condition.
To qualify for an emotional support animal an individual must first be certified by a licensed mental health professional, psychologist, therapist, or psychiatrist as emotionally disabled. Only after a thorough analysis of your mental disability, the licensed mental health practitioner will provide you with an ESA letter.
But it is important to note that no other doctor (cardiologist or a pathologist) than psychologists and mental health professionals can give you an ESA letter. So, ensure that you have a qualifying medical condition and you get your letter from a licensed authority because airlines and rental apartment owners might need the letter for verification.
A licensed therapist will give you an ESA letter defining your mental disability as categorized under the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – DSM-IV and DSM -5.
- Attention deficit disorder (ADD)
- Specific learning disorder
- Panic disorder without agoraphobia
- Post-traumatic disorder (PTSD)
- Bipolar disorder
- Dissociative identity disorder
- Substance abuse disorder
- Cognitive and motor skills disorders
The ailments mentioned-above qualify as mental disorders. If you seek an emotional support dog or an emotional support cat, ensure that you are being diagnosed by a mental health professional on a regular basis. Pre-diagnosis will help you get an emotional support animal letter easily.
Whereas, individuals making an appointment for the first with a psychologist or a therapist should confide in the doctor and ask them whether or not an emotional support animal will improve their mental condition. Also, remember that only a doctor will state your eligibility to qualify for an emotional support animal.
Why do you need a licensed mental health practitioner to qualify for an ESA? Given the rise in ESA forgeries and fake ESA letters, it has become vital to recognize why only a psychologist or an LMHP can recommend you an ESA letter. In a recent news story, it was reported that several individuals are designating their pets as ESAs. However, such claims without a valid proof (an ESA letter) are punishable by law. Not only this, but abuse of this system impacts people with genuine needs. This is why it is essential to get an ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional. Interestingly, applicable ESA letter owners enjoy two privileges. In other words, there are two laws that ESA owners benefit from. One is the Air Carrier Access Act and the other is the Fair Housing Act. According to these laws, an ESA owner can rent an apartment and fly with an ESA without any obligations. However, some miscreants, in order to avail of these advantages generate fake ESA letters. While others simply fall in the trap of people providing fake ESA letters. To save yourself from the trouble of fake ESA letters, ensure a valid assessment by licensed psychiatrists or therapists. Take note of the letter’s authenticity. The letter must have the license number, signature, and letterhead of the doctor.
Characteristics of a legitimate ESA letter
A legitimate ESA letter will consist of the following things:
- Mental health practitioners letterhead, signature or stamp, and also the date of expiration and issuance.
- The doctors’ state license number, license type, and the date of the license.
- A detailed description of the individual’s mental health, cause and how the ESA assistance will help treat the medical condition.
- Your name, other personal details. The name of the pet, type of breed are optional requirements. But if the doctor deems it fit he or she can include these details as well.
How to get an Emotional Support Animal Letter?
The best way to get an emotional support animal letter is by visiting a therapist regularly. A licensed therapist will analyze your condition and then decide whether or not you require an ESAs assistant. However, if an individual is incapable of visiting a clinic, there is an alternative that allows you to obtain the recommendation – online ESA letter recommendation.
This method requires you to provide identity records, medical records, and personal information online. Once you submit the medical form, a licensed mental health practitioner will assess your condition and the medical records over a video call. Furthermore, if the doctor deems it fit and you have a qualifying condition, he or she will mail you the recommendation letter. You can download the letter from your mail and your pet will fall under the emotional support animal category.
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