There are many treatments available for people who struggle with mental health, and one of the most popular treatments these days is using an emotional support animal. These loveable, furry friends are there to listen without judgment, cuddle when loneliness feels imminent, and bring spirits back up when they are low. However, ESA-letter scams are on the rise, so how can you ensure that you qualify and go through the proper process? Read on to understand more!
What is an ESA Letter?
An ESA prescription letter is an official letter from a licensed mental health professional, that is required to obtain an emotional support animal. Usually, an ESA letter is written and issued by a mental health practitioner. This mental health practitioner needs to have personal knowledge that you meet criteria for a mental health diagnosis. The practitioner confirms the person’s condition and symptoms and suggests an ESA as a therapy and for the betterment of the individual.
Right now there is a growing mess of online scammers and dishonest businesses attempting to pass for licensed professionals who can offer ESA letters quickly, on the cheap, or without having to consult with a therapist. Beware of these scams. Do your research and verify the license before beginning the process.
ESA’s are covered under the fair housing act and air carrier act. Allowing you to live and air travel without discrimination. ESA letters are valid for one year and need to be renewed on an annual basis.
The housing letter helps the ESA owner in getting better and undiscriminated housing opportunities. According to the Fair Housing Act, no landlord will discriminate against any tenant, based on the presence of an emotional support animal. Due to this law, the ESA owners can have their pets in their house without paying any pet fees. It should be noted that landlords do have the right to kick you out if your animal is posing a threat to other tenets.
The travel letter allows the ESA owners to air travel with their pets. Normally, flights do not allow passengers to travel with their pets. However, with an ESA letter, according to the Air Carrier Access Act, the flight is required to make proper arrangements for your companion animal. However, your ESA should be well mannered and pose no possible threat or disturbance to other passengers.
Who Qualifies for an ESA?
To qualify for an ESA, you will need to fulfil some requirements. Generally, people suffering from mental disorder, anxiety and depression, mental disability and emotional disabilities require some companionship to overcome their condition and live a normal life.
People suffering from severe physical limitations and disabilities take assistance from service animals like a service dog, who is trained to perform specific tasks as per the person’s physical requirements.
However, for an emotional animal, or dog, this special training is not needed since they will not be performing any special tasks or duties. Your ESA only needs to be well mannered and safe to have around yourself and others.
What about the badge, vest, and certificate?
Does my emotional support animal have to wear a vest? No! While the answer may seem simple enough, the laws and rights concerning service and support animals can be confusing. Many people tend to confuse the roles of emotional support animals and service animals. While both provide vital services, it is important to understand the differences between the two. While it is not necessary for ESA’s to have a vest it can be recommended to help navigate an airport when traveling to ensure strangers are not petting your dog without permission.
There is no national registry for emotional support animals. Therefore, registering your dog as an ESA through an online website and receiving a certificate will not suffice. Again, please visit a licensed mental health professional to receive your ESA Letter.
What is the difference between an ESA and Service Animal?
While serving a similar service, Emotional Support Animals assist their owners as a part of their treatment plan. They do not assist individuals with everyday tasks, but rather they provide emotional comfort and help to improve the symptoms of certain psychological disorders.
Like service animals, these pets help a specific person, but they do not go through any special training or certification. Emotional support animals do not have the same level of access as service dogs and are only allowed in planes for travel and in homes that normally don’t allow pets.
A service animal is an animal specifically trained to do certain major life tasks for a person with physical or severe psychiatric disabilities. This may include but isn’t limited to providing: Seeing eyes for the blind, Hearing and alerts for the deaf, Seizure-detection and alerts, Reminder to take medication or stop a certain behavior, Opening doors, refrigerators, carrying items, etc. Rigorously trained to perform certain functions, these animals live with the people they assist; are certified and registered; and receive certain rights of entry to otherwise no-animals-allowed facilities.
Are you in Florida and looking to obtain an ESA Letter?
Carly Stansell is a licensed clinical social worker certified in animal assisted therapy. She completes online clinical interviews through her private practice and issues emotional support animal letters to those in need. She also provides ongoing remote therapy/life coaching services.
For more information visit her website
or reach out for a free consultation