How to Get an Emotional Support Animal & an ESA Letter
Emotional support animals offer a number of benefits to their owners and having one means that you will get support in many ways. However, many people do not know about the process of getting an ESA and they have to either live without the animal or have to give it up at some point.
This blog will help you know and understand the process of getting an emotional support animal and a genuine ESA letter. The said letter is the core requirement of getting and living with the animal.
But, unfortunately, there are a lot of scam companies that mislead the new and unsuspecting ESA owners and give them fake letters.
Want to have an emotional support dog but do not know how to get one? Here, we have explained all the important steps to get an ESA.
What is an Emotional Support Animal?
An emotional support animal is an assistance animal that is more than a pet. These animals are different from service, psychiatric, and therapy animals and they stay by their owners’ side to provide the necessary support and companionship.
Many people think that these animals are the same as pets, which is wrong. They are different and where a pet provides companionship only, these animals provide substantial mental and emotional support to the owners.
They do not need to be individually trained only but need to be disciplined only.
These animals are protected by some emotional support animal laws. These include the Americans with Disabilities Act, ADA, and Fair Housing Act, FHA, a federal law, which states that no landlord could deny any tenant because he has an ESA. According to the HUD housing rules for an emotional support animal, they can live in no-pet facilities also and do not have to pay a penny for their animal.
Small ESAs like small dogs and cats could travel in planes also. As per the Department of Transportation’s new policies, airlines could reject your animal but small animals could still manage. Unfortunately, these animals are not allowed in public places like shopping malls, restaurants, and marts.
Are ESAs Same as Therapy and Service Animals?
No, ESAs are different from both therapy and service animals. Therapy animals are not trained as service animals but having it does not require an ESA letter. These animals visit hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, and even hostel dorms.
They provide companionship to the patients and students and help them relieve stress and anxiety. These animals are usually dogs and cats and they visit these places with their owners.
Service animals are mostly dogs and they get special training and are trained to do work for the owner. People having physical disabilities like deafness, blindness, and paralysis have these dogs to help with their daily activities. Besides, psychiatric service dogs also exist and they help people having psychiatric issues
Other than dogs, miniature horses are also used as service animals. Since these animals are trained to perform specific tasks for the owners and have to provide support to their owners in moving around. This is why cats and other animals are not suitable for it
How to Get an Emotional Support Animal?
Getting an emotional support cat could be a time-consuming process for first-time ESA owners. Since many of them do not know about them, they face various difficulties before getting their animal.
To make the process easy for them, we have explained the essential steps of getting an ESA below.
- Understand the Purpose of an ESA
Before getting the animal, it is important that you understand the purpose of an ESA. These animals are here for a purpose and that purpose is more than providing entertainment and companionship.
ESAs are specialized pets that provide emotional and mental support to people with disabilities like various emotional and mental illnesses and limitations. Therefore, understand the purpose of these animals first.
- Understand Whether you Need an ESA or a Pet
Sometimes people confuse their need for a pet with an ESA. Both the pets and ESAs are different and serve entirely different purposes. Where anyone could get a pet, not everyone could get an ESA. These animals need proper qualification and the owners have to have an evaluation before getting the animal.
Therefore, analyze your symptoms properly and understand if an ESA is what you need.
- Choose the Kind of Animal
Once you have identified that an ESA is what you need, it is time that you decide about the kind of animal you need. There are no restrictions on the kind and breed of an ESA.
You can get any animal, ranging from cats, dogs, and reptiles but, if you live in a rented apartment, you should consider a few things.
- The animal should not be unreasonably large, like an ostrich or a peacock.
- If a dog, it should not be vicious or banned in your state; some states have banned American Pitbulls.
- It is not dangerous for other tenants.
- It is not something that is banned like exotic pets.
It is better that you choose reasonably sized cats or dogs that could travel with you also.
- Connect with an LMHP or an Online ESA Letter Source
Decided about the animal? Good, now find an LMHP for yourself. A licensed mental health practitioner would evaluate your symptoms and decide whether you qualify for an ESA or not.
Besides, you can also contact an online ESA letter provider to help you with the evaluation and letter. However, make sure that you choose a genuine ESA letter provider that works with licensed therapists and could guide you properly.
- Train your Animal
Though these animals do not need specific training, they do need to be properly disciplined and housebroken. Train your animal yourself or get help from a professional trainer. Either way, make sure that your animal does not damage the property or pose any danger to other people.
- Learn the Rights and Responsibilities of an ESA Owner
ESA owners have both rights and responsibilities. They have equal housing rights as the landlord could not deny proper housing to them and their animals. With rights come responsibilities and as a responsible ESA owner, you must fulfill those responsibilities.
Here are some of the responsibilities of an ESA owner.
- The animal must not damage the property.
- The animal should be safe to have around other people.
- It should be properly potty trained.
- It should not be noisy and a disturbance for others.
Besides, you should keep your animal clean and well-groomed.
What are the Different Types of ESAs?
When it comes to choosing an ESA, there are endless possibilities. Since there are no restrictions on the type and breed of the animal, the owners could get any animal.
Below are some common emotional support animal choices.
- Miniature horses
- Snakes and other reptiles
Other than these, you can get a number of other kinds of animals. However, we suggest that you choose a reasonable animal that would be easy to accommodate and maintain.
How to Get Approved for an Emotional Support Animal?
You will have to submit an assessment form to get the ESA prescription. Unlike pets that you can get without any assessment or qualification, you need to qualify to get an ESA. Since these animals provide emotional and mental support, the person must have a condition that is disrupting his routine life.
“How do you qualify for an emotional support animal?”
Here are some mental disabilities that qualify for an ESA.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Anxiety, depression
- Panic Attacks
- Stress disorder
- Separation anxiety
- Attention Deficit Disorder
- Bipolar Disorder
- Fear and Phobias
- Postpartum Depression
- Social Anxiety Disorder
- Mood disorders
- Personality disorders
People having these conditions could get an ESA prescription from an LMHP.
How to Get an Emotional Support Animal Letter?
When getting an ESA letter, you have two options. You can either get in touch with a licensed mental health professional of your state or contact an online ESA letter provider.
Both ways are right but you will have to be diligent that you get a real and genuine ESA letter. Having a fake letter could land you in dire trouble and imprisonment.
How to Get an ESA Letter from an LMHP?
If you are already receiving treatment for your condition then you can talk to your therapist about it. If you are currently not under treatment then you can get in touch with an LMHP and discuss your symptoms.
However, do not ask for the prescription directly and start by discussing how you have read or known about ESAs and their therapeutic effects. Some people try to pass their pets as ESAs to escape the pet fee. This is why doctors do not succumb to such requests easily.
How to Get an ESA Letter Online?
The online process is rather simple. Find a genuine ESA letter provider and fill their online questionnaire. Their mental health therapist will check your symptoms and may ask some additional questions. If you qualify for an emotional support animal, he will write the letter for you.
How to Get my Dog Registered as an Emotional Support Animal?
‘How to Get a Dog Declared an Emotional Support Animal?’
If your pet dog is disciplined and you feel that he can provide the needed emotional and mental support then you can apply to make him your ESA. the process is simple and all you have to do is add the details of your dog in the questionnaire when applying for the letter.
‘How to Get a Cat Certified as an Emotional Support Animal?’
The process is the same as when you certify your dog for being an ESA. Fill in the details of your cat in the questionnaire when filling it. Having an ESA is a great experience for anyone. These animals provide emotional and mental support to their owners and help them have a happy and peaceful life.
Fill the online questionnaire now if you need an ESA and want to know whether you qualify.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you qualify for an emotional support animal?
To qualify, you must have a mental or emotional disability like stress, anxiety, PTSD, phobia, or personality disorder. The disability must interfere with your daily life and explain the role of an ESA to ease the symptoms.
Who can write an ESA letter?
Below are the professionals that could write an ESA letter for you.
- Psychiatric nurses
- Licensed therapists
- Clinical social workers
- Professional counselors
- Family doctors that are mental health practitioners.
How much does it cost to get an ESA letter?
The cost of the letter varies from state to state but, usually, it could cost anywhere between $150 and $200.
Can a landlord deny an ESA?
No, a landlord cannot deny your ESA or discriminate against you due to it. However, if your animal is too big or dangerous then he could refuse to accommodate it.
Can I get an ESA for anxiety?
Yes, you can get an emotional support animal if you are suffering from anxiety. It is a serious mental issue and it could leave a person unable to do the daily routine tasks.
How can I get a free ESA letter?
The only way of getting a free ESA letter is if your mental health therapist agrees to write it for you. It is the only way your letter won’t cost you a penny. However, if you are getting it online then you will have to pay a cost for it. Be aware that if a company is offering to provide a free ESA letter then most probably, it is fake.
Can my doctor write an ESA letter?
Yes, if your doctor is a mental health professional, psychiatrist, or mental therapist, and is licensed to work in your state then he can write the letter for you.
How long does it take to get an ESA letter?
If your therapist is writing it then you can get the letter in a day or so. If you are getting it online then the time duration may vary.
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