For centuries, animals have been companions to people. Some, like, dogs, are also protectors. Over time, animals have come to play a much more intimate and functional role in people’s lives. These days, there are assistant animals that provide not only companionship and emotional support but also help to people living with physical or psychological disabilities. Therapy animals, service animals, and emotional support animals are all types of assistant animals.
An emotional support animal can save you from loneliness. Click the button below to get your ESA letter.
What Is an Emotional Support Animal?
Pets provide comfort, companionship, and emotional support that help their owners to cope with challenges that would otherwise reduce the quality of their lives. These pets are known as emotional support animals (ESAs). All animals that provide emotional support are considered ESAs. Dogs are perhaps the most popular ESA.
All dogs give their owners emotional connection but for one to be considered an ESA, it has to be certified to a person with a mental disorder by a licensed health care provider. This could be a psychiatrist, psychologist, or therapist who will determine that a person needs the help of the pet to cope with their condition. The condition could be anxiety, depression, autism, or any other mental disorder. The dog can be of any breed and any age.
It is important to distinguish between emotional support dogs and service dogs. Emotional support animals support their owners emotionally by offering them companionship that helps them cope with a mental disorder. Service dogs, on the other hand, provide the same support but additionally, they help cope with physical disabilities like blindness, deafness, and mobility problems.
The service these dogs provide is another point of distinction from ESAs. Service dogs are allowed everywhere with their owners but ESAs are not. Service dogs can go into public places like malls, restaurants, and schools. They are also allowed on public transport channels like trains, cabs, and airplanes. The precise definition of service dogs as stipulated in the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) is dogs that are individually trained to perform tasks or do work for people with disabilities.
The training a service dog has to perform a specific task or job related to the disability of its owner is a key distinction from ESAs. For instance, there are service dogs that are trained to help blind people to get around including crossing streets, to alert a deaf person to a doorbell ringing or other form of communication they can’t hear.
The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) definition of a service dog does not include the provision of support. Providing comfort and emotional support are not included. These are considered things that a dog, cat or other pet does naturally by instinct. There are some local and state laws that have a broader definition of ESAs. If you need further clarification, you can check with a local government agency to confirm whether your ESA can access public areas in your life.
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What Is an ESA Letter for?
An ESA letter or recommendation letter will grant your animal companion official status as an emotional support animal. Under federal law, the only legitimate way to get an ESA letter is from a licensed health care professional. Having a license, vest, or ID card for your furry helper does not mean that your dog is certified as an ESA. This has a number of benefits. One is that you will have special rights as granted in the Fair Housing Act.
With an ESA letter, you cannot be stopped from renting or buying a house even f there is a no-pet policy because your animal is more than a pet. If you wish to travel with your ESA, it must satisfy an airline’s criteria for normal pets. Also, you will have to pay a pet fee as the airline will assess. The new rules also mean that only smaller pets that can fit into a carrier can get aboard. All service dogs can board the cabins no matter their size and at no cost.
Things to Know before Getting ESA Online Registration
Ever since the pandemic started, there has been a turn to facilitating digital operations and this includes registering ESAs. So it is possible to register your ESA online but you need to do it right away. You also need to be aware that they are scam online registration companies. It is also important to understand that a certificate does not give a pet official certification as an ESA. A certificate is not an ESA letter. What you need to get official certification from a licensed professional who offers online and in-person services.
ESA Online Registration
It is very convenient to be able to get your ESA letter online. Apart from being a time-saver, it also saves the cost of seeing a licensed health care provider in person. And, most importantly, an ESA letter that you get online is as legitimate as one that you get when you see a health care provider in person. If you have a particular doctor or therapist that you have been seeing, they can give you an ESA letter.
Service Animal and Emotional Support Animal Laws
There are major federal civil rights laws that govern the rights of people who need ESAs and service animals. There are also instructions on how to go filing a complaint if these rights are violated. Additionally, a lot of states also have in place laws that give a precise definition of service animals. If you are not clear on the laws about ESAs and service animals, it is advisable to familiarize yourself with them.
As stated above, service animals are dogs that are individually trained to perform specific tasks or do specific work for a person who has a disability. The disability may be intellectual, physical, sensory, or mental. Some of the tasks that service animals are trained to perform are pressing elevator buttons, reminding their owner to take medication, and picking up dropped items. To be more specific, animals that satisfy the criteria laid out by the ADA are:
- Guide Dogs or Seeing Eye Dogs: These are trained to help a blind person get around safely including getting across streets.
- Hearing or Signal Dogs: These are trained to alert a deaf person or one who has significant hearing loss to sounds like someone knocking on the door or ringing the doorbell.
- Psychiatric Service Dogs: These are trained to perform tasks that help people living with mental conditions and disorders to beware of psychiatric episodes and take steps to get their own get through them. Some of the things these dogs are trained to do are reminding their handler to take their medicine, turning on the lights when a person with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is having a panic attack, outburst, or another form of breakdown at night. Others are trained to carry out safety checks such as searching a room to calm down and reassure people with anxiety, OCD, or PTSD. These dogs are also trained to interrupt self-mutilation by persons with mental conditions like depression and dissociative identity disorders like schizophrenia.
- Sig Dogs: Also known as sensory signal dogs or social signal dogs are trained to help people with autism. They alert their handler when they are doing repetitive movements that are characteristic of this condition. Interrupting the movement such as hand flapping helps the autistic person to stop the movement.
- Seizure Response Dogs: They are trained to help people living with a condition that causes them to go into seizures. The dog may offer assistance in form of standing guard over their handler until the seizure stops or going for help. Some of these service dogs are trained to predict that a seizure is coming on. They alert their handler of this so that the person can either sit down or move to a safe place.
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By the definition given for service animals in Title II and Title of the ADA, ESAs, therapy dogs and comfort animals are not service animals. This definition also excludes other species of animals except for dogs. It does not matter whether these other species are wild or domestic, trained or untrained.
It is also important to note that service animals are trained to help people with specific disabilities, unlike ESAs that primarily provide emotional support and comfort but do not perform tasks. Having a note from a licensed health care provider stating that one has a disability and needs the emotional support of their pet does not make their pet a service animal.
While Title II and III of the ADA recognize only dogs as service animals. However, it is urged that those who make or reinforce the rules make modifications in policies so that people living with disabilities can use miniature horses if they have been trained individually to perform certain tasks or work for people with disabilities.
Additionally, it is hoped that ESAs or animals that provide comfort, emotional support, and companionship will be recognized as service animals. Even though they cannot perform specific tasks or do certain work, they should be recognized for their role in helping people to cope with anxiety, depression, phobias, and other mental conditions and disorders.
In some states, there are laws that define and recognize therapy animals. However, they and their owners do not have the same rights as those who have service dogs. This is another group of animals that will hopefully soon be recognized for the difference they make in their owners’ lives.
Ready to Get Started?
Before you can get an ESA letter, you will need the following:
This test will determine whether you meet the criteria for an ESA letter or not. It is important to note that having an evaluation done by a mental health professional is not the same as being evaluated for an ESA letter. Rather, a screening test is done specifically to determine whether or not you qualify to be an ESA owner. If you are approved to have an ESA, you will be given a list of certified, licensed mental health professionals in your area.
Some of the questions that you can expect to be asked during a screening task are about your mental health history, the current state of your mental health, and any recent changes to your behavior. The idea is not to diagnose a mental condition or illness but only to determine if you would benefit from having an ESA based on the state of your mental health.
Talking to a Licensed Therapist
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in five of the adult population in the U.S has had or currently has a mental illness. Depression is at the top of the list of these illnesses. There is also anxiety, PTSD, and other mental conditions or emotional disabilities. A certified, licensed medical professional will be in a position to do an accurate diagnosis and create a customized treatment plan that will work well for you.
If you don’t know any mental health care professional, you can ask your GP to recommend one. A social worker can also help if you know one. The ESA agency where you get your screening test done can also recommend a psychologist, psychiatrist, or other mental health care professional. Having been approved to have an ESA by a licensed agency, you can now bring this up with this professional. Ask them if they will write an ESA evaluation letter for you. You may find it surprising, but not all of them believe that having an ESA can help a patient cope with their mental condition or emotional disability.
Check if ESA Letter Is Valid
When you have gotten your ESA letter, there are fewer things that you want to check to be sure that it is valid and it will be recognized such as by property owners and airlines. First, check that the letter is done on your therapist’s official letterhead. The letterhead should include the name of their practice, their physical address, a logo, and other information that makes it easy to verify that they are registered and licensed.
An ESA letter that is not on letterhead is not valid. The letter should also have your therapist’s license number and their direct contact like a telephone number. Again, an ESA letter missing these things will not be valid. Additionally, the letter should have details like your full name as the patient, the precise mental or emotional disorder you have been diagnosed with, the problems the condition is causing, and how an ESA would help you cope with them. The letter should also have a date of issue and expiration date.
Can You Have More than One Emotional Support Animal?
It is allowed to have more than one ESA. There are no precise laws that give a maximum number of ESAs that one person can have. This is as long the ESAs are not in violation of any local or state laws and if a therapist will indicate on an ESA that it would be helpful for you to have more than one ESA. You must also make sure that you can take good care of all your ESAs including giving them enough healthy food and water and having them seen by a veterinarian if they are ill and for ongoing check-ups.
Can I Bring My Emotional Support Animal on Flights?
You will also be able to travel with your ESA including on flights. However, they cannot be with you the way service dogs can. The U.S Department of Transportation put in place new rules on December 2, 2020. These rules were effected on January 11, 2021, and they gave airlines the option to recognize or not recognize ESAs.
Many airlines in the U.S are no longer accepting ESAs on flights. They are allowed by law to ask a person with a service dog will be needed during a flight and they cannot refuse the dog to board if its handler says they need it with them at all times. However, it is different with ESAs. Even with a valid ESA letter, your animal will have to be in a carrier in a specific part of the plane and not with you. Additionally, you will have to pay a fee.
A valid ESA letter can bring you comfortable accommodation with your pet. Click the button below to get your ESA letter.
Emotional support animals can help you with many mental disorders like depression, anxiety, and ADHD. To keep an emotional support animal with you in the areas where they are not allowed, you will need to have an authentic emotional support animal letter from a licensed mental health professional. If you are looking for a valid ESA letter do not hesitate to contact us at Mango Clinic or click the banner below to book your appointment.