Many people who are not in the military or don’t have close loved ones in the military believe that once a veteran comes home from war, he or she is no longer in danger and can resume a normal life. However, those who are in the military life know better. A veteran returning from combat rarely transitions easily back into civilian life. S/he may be plagued with a number of physical, mental, and/or emotional problems. In some cases, an Emotional Support Animal (or ESA) can provide the comfort, security, and support these veterans need to heal.
Challenges Veterans Face
The most widely-recognized mental health condition suffered by combat veterans is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Those with PTSD can experience symptoms such as chronic anxiety, insomnia, sleep apnea, irrational fears, an aversion to loud noises. Oftentimes they experience difficulty or an inability to connect with or relate to others who did not experience the same traumatic events as they did. Some PTSD patients are successfully treated with counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy, or medications. However, others do not respond well to traditional treatments or find that additional therapy is needed.
In addition to PTSD, veterans often experience depression, addictions, anxiety disorders, violent outbursts, and other negative consequences due to their exposure to battle-related trauma. Those who suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or blast-related exposure are subject to even more symptoms such as cognitive or memory issues, headaches, inability to process information, and an increased risk in developing dementia.
It is estimated that 8.5 to 14 percent of vets returning from battle experience PTSD or severe depression. Furthermore, 20 percent report experiencing a head injury severe enough to cause a concussion. Fortunately for these veterans, an ESA animal can have a number of positive effects on their conditions and help them on the road to recovery.
Why Emotional Support Animals Can Help
ESAs are any type of animal that can be used for comfort and companionship for those individuals with mental or emotional disorders. Though they are not specially trained as Service Animals are, Emotional Support pets can still be of enormous benefit to those suffering from battle-related issues.
Many veterans have a difficult time connecting with friends and loved ones when they return from the battlefield. Having an animal as a companion can be incredibly soothing as the veteran can experience unconditional love and undivided attention from their pet. They do not have to explain why they feel the way they do or justify any irrational thoughts or behaviors. Having a non-judgmental presence to talk to, spend time with, and grow closer to often helps the vet make the transition to re-connecting with their loved ones.
Vets can also benefit by taking care of an animal’s needs. The necessity of feeding, taking a pet for walks, and grooming an animal can provide meaning to a vet’s life and help them focus on something other than their own problems.
It has also been proven in studies that animal-assisted therapy such as the presence of an animal—especially a dog—can help those with sleeping issues. Patients usually get more deep sleep by mitigating anxiety. Dogs can also wake a vet from a nightmare or if they are displaying visible signs of sleep apnea.
Though Emotional Support Animals do not qualify for many of the benefits that Service Animals do, they can still accompany their owner to many public places and be allowed into housing where other animals are normally not allowed. To register your pet as an Emotional Support Animal, you must have a diagnosed mental or emotional disorder and be evaluated by a qualified physician. If you qualify, you will be issued a letter that you can use to distinguish your pet as an ESA so you can keep it with you to provide comfort and support.
Obtaining Your Emotional Support Animal Prescription
If you are a veteran and suffer from PTSD or other emotional disorder talk to a doctor at Mango Clinic to find out if you qualify for an ESA prescription. Call Mango Clinic Miami at (786) 391-0269 to schedule an appointment with a Board Certified physician. You can also complete a simple ESA Online Form to have a doctor contact your via Telehealth.
What Do I Need to Qualify for Emotional Support Animal Letter?
ESAs (Emotional Support Animals) are animals that provide love, support, and companionship to mitigate symptoms associated with psychological, behavioral, and emotional disorders. Although pets do provide such companionship to their owners, ESAs are prescribed to only persons who have been diagnosed with a mental disorder. Since they require no special training to provide relief to their charges, ESAs are different from service animals. To see how much does it cost to get an Emotional Support Animal prescription click here.
Disorders That Qualify for Emotional Support Animal
Individuals who have mental disabilities such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, anti-social personality disorder, depression, or other related psychological disorders are qualified to receive an ESA letter; however, they must be diagnosed by a certified mental health professional such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist, etc. Other kinds of doctors such as cardiologists, neurologists or general health practitioners are unable to give such diagnoses since they are not trained in the field and do not qualify as mental health professionals. However, some airlines and property managers may accept a verification form/letter that has been filled out and signed by a family doctor.
The following are some of the disorders listed in the DSM-IV as grounds for qualifying for ESA certification:
ADD (i.e., Attention Deficit Disorder)
Motor skills disorders
Substance abuse related disorder (alcohol, drugs, etc.)
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Qualifying Procedures for ESA
The procedure for getting an emotional support letter is simple, non-invasive, and usually short. In special cases, the consultation can be done from home. This allows patients with depressive and anxiety disorders (who don’t feel comfortable with leaving the comfort of their homes) to be qualified for an ESA. The first step in qualifying for an ESA requires you to complete an online questionnaire (online ESA application), which briefly outlines your ailment. After this, you will undergo a session with a certified mental health professional who assesses your suitability for an Emotional Support Pet. The professional will ask some questions about your emotional and mental state to ascertain the extent of the malaise. If the professional finds you eligible for ESA certification, you will be informed right away and you’ll receive the letter within a few days.
The format of an ESA document
An ESA prescription is in the form of a formal and properly formatted letter. The letter must contain the license type of the mental health professional, license number, date of licensing, as well as the date and state of issue, and must be written on the official letterhead of the professional.
The letter must contain pertinent details that informs recipients that you are:
Currently a patient of the certified doctor.
Receiving treatment and care for an emotional disability, which must be described in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) of Mental Disorders Version IV or V.
Substantively limited in participating in or performing a major life activity due to the disability.
Prescribed an ESA as part of the treatment program for your disability.
Finally, the letter must be dated no later than a year from the date of departure.
Emotional Support Animals can be extremely beneficial companions to those who are experiencing mental or emotional distress. They can range from the usual dogs and cats to more exotic pets such as hedgehogs, rabbits, pot-bellied pigs, and even snakes. If you believe you qualify for an Emotional Support Animal and would like to receive a letter so you can enjoy the benefits of living and traveling with your pet, contact a professional today who can perform an evaluation and issue you a certified letter.
Did you know that an estimated 61.5 million Americans suffer from some type of emotional or mental disability? Extreme stress, depression, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder are just some of the issues impacting some people’s lives. While they may be helped with therapy, medication, or a combination of the two, there are some with emotional disorders who can also benefit from the companionship of a pet. Emotional Support Animals are those pets that are designated by a mental health professional as essential to their owner’s mental health and benefit from several concessions in housing units and on airlines. If you have an emotional disorder and want to find out more about emotional support pets, here is what you need to know.
What is an Emotional Support Animal?
Emotional Support Animals are different from service animals, which are required to have specialized training and/or experience in order to help their owners. Emotional Support Animals, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, may sometimes perform tasks that require training but others provide assistance that requires no training. Any type of animal can be used as an Emotional Support Animal as long as they are providing the comfort and support their owner needs to treat their condition. Dogs and cats are very common ESAs, but others have used pigs, birds, hedgehogs, or even miniature horses as emotional service animals.
What Laws Are Related to Emotional Support Animals?
When you have a pet that has been certified by a mental health professional as an ESA, you will benefit from concessions in two laws: the Air Carrier Access Act and the Fair Housing Act. If you are considering going through the process of getting an ESA letter for your pet, you should be aware of how these laws will apply to you.
If you do not have an ESA letter and want to take your pet on an aircraft, you will be charged extra to have your pet in the cabin with you or your pet will be required to ride in the cargo hold. Under the Air Carrier Access Act, if you have an ESA letter for your pet, the airline cannot prevent you from keeping your pet in the cabin, require advance notice to allow you to keep your pet in the cabin, or charge you extra for this benefit.
The Fair Housing Act requires that landlords make reasonable accommodations for those with Emotional Support Animals even in housing communities that restrict pets. A resident who is in possession of a valid ESA letter cannot be denied housing because they have a pet unless that resident is neglecting the pet or the pet is doing significant damage to the housing unit.
To get these benefits for your Emotional Support Animal, you must have an ESA letter that meets all the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. You may get one of these letters either by meeting with a qualified mental health professional in person or you may be referred to one through a valid online service that helps connect you with a therapist who can write you an ESA letter.
How Do I Get a Valid ESA Letter?
Valid ESA letters must be issued by a licensed mental health professional such as a psychologist, therapist, licensed clinical social worker, or psychiatrist. Many of these professionals will either require that you are a patient of theirs undergoing therapy or, if the process is done online, they will go through your medical records and interview you to determine your need for an ESA.
Some of the qualifying conditions to get an ESA letter are depression, anxiety, panic disorder or panic attacks, personality disorders such as borderline or bipolar disorder, fears or phobias, social anxiety disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder.
With your certified ESA letter, you will be recognized as a patient or a patient on a case-by-case basis under the care of a licensed mental health professional for emotional or mental disabilities. The letter also verifies that your disability significantly limits your daily life and affects your ability to perform everyday tasks. Finally, the letter will state the need for your emotional support animal as a necessary part of your therapy.
Frequently Asked Questions About Emotional Support Animal Letters
Do I Need to Get My ESA Certified?
Certification for an Emotional Support Animal is not only unnecessary, but it is technically impossible. There is no recognized registry for ESAs and ‘registering’ your animal will not give it any special privileges. To designate your pet as an Emotional Support Animal, you need only get a valid ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional. If you are working with a company that says they sell registered Emotional Support Animals or official ESA certifications, you are likely being scammed.
Can I Get an ESA Letter Online?
Yes, you can get an ESA letter online from an online company. However, you must be careful and look out for red flags that would indicate the service is not legitimate. The online company must connect you with a licensed mental health professional as that is the only valid way to get an ESA letter. If the service offers to ‘instantly’ approve you or tells you that your letter will be cheaper than other services, you are probably not working with a legitimate company.
Can I Buy an Emotional Support Dog or Other Animal?
No. Owners of animals are certified with ESA letters, not the pets themselves. If you see any ‘registered’ or ‘licensed’ Emotional Support Animals for sale, those who are selling them are not legitimate. Only those with valid mental or emotional disabilities can be approved to have an ESA and that approval can only come from a licensed mental health professional who has evaluated and/or treated you for your condition.
What Type of Animals Make the Best ESAs?
This is a question without an easy answer because those with emotional or mental health disorders get support from different types of animals. In many cases, the ideal ESA will be the pet you already own. If you have a dog, cat, bird, guinea pig, or any other animal that gives you comfort and helps you manage your symptoms, you have the right Emotional Support Animal.
If you have a mental or emotional disorder and do not currently have a pet but think one might help you, your best bet is to go to a shelter. Spend some time with the dogs, cats, or other animals at the shelter and see which one offers you the most comfort. In many cases, dogs or cats make excellent ESAs because of their naturally loving temperaments, ability to be in the home, and because they do not need the specialized care that a more exotic pet would require.
What is the Difference Between Emotional Support Animals and Service Animals?
Service animals and Emotional Support Animals are not the same. Service animals must be specially trained to perform duties for their owners. In many cases, the owners of service animals are physically disabled. Service animals can be trained to assist those who are blind or deaf or who are in wheelchairs or who experience debilitating mental disorders.
Service animals are allowed by law into any private establishment while Emotional Support Animals are not. It is much more difficult and expensive to obtain a service animal as they must fit certain training criteria before they can qualify. Some service dogs perform psychiatric services for those with severe emotional or mental health issues while others perform more physical tasks for those who are hearing, seeing, or otherwise physically impaired. Because they perform crucial services for those with disabilities, service dogs have much more public accommodation than their ESA counterparts.
What is the Difference Between Emotional Support Animals and Therapy Dogs?
Emotional Support Animals provide valuable support and comfort by simply acting as a companion to their owners. Because they have one owner and can be with their owner at all times, the bond between owner and ESA can grow very strong. In contrast, therapy dogs are not usually owned by the people they provide treatment too.
Therapy dogs are usually brought into hospitals, nursing homes, or other facilities where treatment is being given to individuals with emotional or physical ailments to provide comfort. Service dogs may also be used in areas where a disaster, such as an earthquake or bombing, has occurred to provide support and comfort to survivors. Because they are not technically considered ESAs or service animals, they are normally not given the same accommodations as either group of animals.
Owners of ESAs must be careful never to misrepresent their animal as either a service dog or a therapy dog and must respect the laws that govern their pet.
Asking Your Doctor for an Emotional Support Animal Letter
If you are currently seeing a mental health professional for an emotional or mental disorder, it’s likely that your doctor is already aware of the many benefits of Emotional Support Animals. More than likely, if you bring up the possibility of obtaining one, he or she will be more than happy to issue you a verified letter.
If you are not currently seeing a mental health professional, you can still obtain a verified ESA letter. There are numerous online services that will provide you with a connection to a mental health professional who can go through your health records, evaluate you, and determine if you qualify for an ESA. If so, they can provide the verified letter that you will need for your pet to receive ESA benefits.
With your verified ESA letter, your Emotional Support Animal can live with you in housing units, homes, condos, dormitories, or any other form of public housing. All of these facilities are included in the Fair Housing Act to accommodate you as a resident or student.
Obtaining an Emotional Support Animal letter from a legitimate provider is a must for those who truly need an Emotional Support Animal. Sadly, too many individuals are finding that the letter they have obtained online is not valid. And unfortunately, finding out the letter is invalid typically coincides with an event that is already highly stressful.
For instance, airlines are not allowed to charge owners of emotional support animals additional fees, and your animal will be allowed to remain with you for the duration of the flight instead of being held with other pets. However, an ESA letter that is from a scam website can mean hours of lost time at the airport arguing about your need for a support animal.
Landlords are also prohibited from charging a person with an emotional support animal letter additional pet fees or deposits, and your rental application cannot be denied due to your ownership of an emotional support animal. Once again, those who may have obtained an ESA letter from a scam website may be unhappy to find that they are denied the ability to rent or must pay an extra fee.
If you attempt to present a fake document to a landlord, they are within their right to deny your application or charge you additional pet ownership fees. It is also illegal to misrepresent an animal as an emotional support animal, and some states may issue a fine if a person attempts to use a fake ESA letter. Sadly, it can be difficult to tell illegitimate ESA letter sites apart from the rest, and many have a very professional appearance.
An ESA letter carries a certain amount of power, but before you purchase one, you should learn the difference between legitimate and illegitimate letter providers.
How Does One Attain a Legitimate ESA Letter?
In order to ensure your ESA letter is legit, you must be seen in person by a licensed medical doctor. Offices like Mango Clinic in Miami offer either standard appointment setting or walk-in care for those with harder schedules. You can also apply for an ESA letter online through Mango Clinic.
Mango Clinic is fully legitimate medical practice with locations in Florida, New York, and California. All of our physicians are licensed to practice medicine in the state of California, New York, and Florida.
What Does TherapyPet.Org Do?
Simply Googling Support Animal ESA letter brings up hundreds of suggested websites. For instance, TherapyPet.Org offers a free online assessment; lets a customer select a letter that seems to fit the bill and then can chat online with a licensed therapist about the nitty-gritty. Oh, and they promise to get that letter out to you within 24 hours. What service… right?
When you see the tiny green lock just to the left of a website’s URL address, it signifies that the site is secure.
– Is the website registered in the US?
Take a minute to check the domain of a website that you might be questioning. For instance, some scam websites are not even registered in the United States which can be a red flag, like Therapypet.org, which is registered in the Bahamas. Also, pay attention to how long the website has been around. Sites that are only a year or two old might be shady.
– Does the website provide info about the “medical staff” or information about their state licensing information?
Any website offering visits with real therapists should offer information about their trained medical staff. It just makes sense, if only to put potential customers at ease. Sites that do not offer such detail are often contracting with out-of-country doctors who are not licensed in the United States.
– Does the site offer to register your pet with a state database?
There is no national database for registering support animals. If the website you are looking at claims this is part of their ESA letter package, it could be a scam.
– Does the company running the website request information about your specific pet?
Many scam websites are noticeably out of date with claims such as Therapypet.org’s claim of “bypass breed and size restrictions”. Customers who believe the website and purchase an ESA letter from them may be surprised to show up for a Delta flight with their pit bull-type service dog only to find that Delta has changed its policy and they are not allowed to fly.
Also, many scam websites do not ask details about your specific pet before providing the scam ESA letter. All ESA letters must include information about your pet and its role in your therapy to be valid. Legitimate providers know the importance of a service or support animal and as such, take great care to stay up-to-date on current policies.
Stories About Fake ESA Letter Mills
There are many false ESA letter mills in existence, but they can be spotted. These sites are a dime a dozen, and here are some testimonials from pet owners who trusted such sites:
After attempting the take her emotional support cat on a flight to Miami, the author of this blog was shocked when the attendant at the airline desk refused to accept her letter. The letter, which was purchased online, was not valid because it lacked information about her disability and was not endorsed by a licensed mental health professional.
Ripoffreport.com is a valid website to search if you are wondering if a website is valid or not. One simple click brought up several negative reviews for TherapyPet.Org.
In this story, the writer registered a stuffed animal with the one site for $65.00, proving not all ESA letter sites are legitimate.
Pet owners should be wary of sites like these – a fake ESA letter is just a click away.
Why Choose ESA Letter form MangoClinic
Here at MangoClinic’s cost and expertise make it the best place to obtain an official ESA letter from. Making sure you are getting a verifiable and legal ESA letter can mean the difference between peace and happiness and stress and anxiety in many situations. Let our medical professionals help.