Emotional Support Animal Pets

What Type Of Animals Can Be ESAs?

In Emotional Support Animalby Emotional Pet Support Team147 Comments

An emotional support animal or ESA is a dog or other common domestic animal that provides therapeutic support to a disabled or elderly owner through companionship, non-judgmental positive regard, affection, and a focus in life. Emotional support animals are typically dogs and cats but may include other animals. In order to be prescribed an emotional support animal by a physician or other medical professional, the person seeking such an animal must have a verifiable disability.

What Animals Qualify To Be An ESA?

All domesticated animals may qualify as an ESA (cats, dogs, mice, rabbits, birds, hedgehogs, rats, minipigs, ferrets, etc.) and they can be any age (young puppies and kittens, too!). These animals do not need any specific task-training because their very presence mitigates the symptoms associated with a persons psychological/emotional disability, unlike a working service dog. The only requirement is that the animal is manageable in public and does not create a nuisance in or around the home setting.

How To Qualify

types of animals

Unlike Service Dogs, Emotional Support Animals are much easier to qualify for because the animal does NOT need to be specifically trained to perform a task. Rather, you as the handler must qualify by having an emotional/mental need to have that animal be with you at home or when traveling to provide emotional support.
For a person to legally qualify for an emotional support animal (ESA), he/she must be considered emotionally disabled by a licensed mental health professional (therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, etc.), as evidenced by a properly formatted prescription letter. Typically, a medical doctor does not qualify because they are not a licensed mental health professional. Some airlines and property managers will accept a verification form completed by a family doctor, however.

animal types catIs my dog required to wear any identifying clothes or a harness?

No. Federal law does not require Service Dogs/ESAs to wear any type of clothing or harnesses. However, we strongly encourage you to make your dog look as official as possible. It will cause you far less confusion when taking them places and you will definitely be happy you did!

Although the law does not exclude any particular species from qualifying as an ESA, commonsense will nearly always prevail. For example, despite there not being written exclusions, if an emotionally disabled airline passenger wants to to be accompanied in the cabin of the aircraft by his ESA and the ESA is a full sized goat, the airlines will likely require the goat to be in a crate and travel in cargo. Similarly, a landlord would likely be able to successfully defend the rejection of a tenant with a hippo as an ESA. Remember that it is important to keep the ESA in manageable condition because a disruptive emotional support pig and its owner had to get their plane trip canceled for causing too much havoc.

Comments

  1. Hello,
    I liked your post.All domesticated animals may qualify as an ESA (cats, dog, mice, rabbits, birds, hedgehogs, rats, mini pigs, ferrets, etc.) and they can be any age (young puppies and kittens, too!). Rather, you as the handler must qualify by having an emotional/mental need to have that animal be with you at home or when traveling to provide emotional support.Similarly, a landlord would likely be able to successfully defend the rejection of a tenant with a hippo as an ESA.I agree with your post.

  2. Hello. I was wondering if here was an age limit for ESAs. If there is not, would one be aloud in school. (Assuming it is domestic and hypoallergenic).

    1. Author

      Hi Fynn,
      There is no age limit for ESAs. We have serviced people from 20 years old to 80 years old.

      1. Would my highschool daughter be able to get one? She is fourteen years of age. She has severe anxiety, OCD, and ADD/ADHD and we have been considering an ESA as a form of therapy. Would her age prevent her from being eligible?

        1. while some schools and public places allow ESA’s most do not and they are strictly allowed in housing areas. it is incredibly hard to get permission for ESA’s public access (laws differ by state). A service dog would be much better for you as service dogs are legally allowed to go everywhere with their handler and as you said her condition is severe she should have no problems qualifying for a service dog. As the animal would be going to school with her, it would already need service dog level training so going the service dog route would be a much safer bet legally when it comes to public access. Especially because her animal will need to meet those training requirements anyways you might as well have the legal protection that goes with it. (in my area some schools are even pushing back against service dogs on classrooms which is illegal so it would not surprise me if ESA’s were outright banned from public places)

          1. Can you have a reptile as a support animal and register it for school and how? I’m in high school and how do I register a animal for school

      2. so fynn also asked if an esa would be allowed to travel to school with an owner if need be? and also is their a specific age ( 18+) to be qualified to need a esa? for instance could my 14 yr old daughter qualify and then bring her esa to jr high?

        1. Author

          As long as a parent/guardian assists her and signs a consent form, then yes, we can assist minors. However, taking an ESA to a school will be outside the scope of our services.

    2. You usually are not allowed to bring your ESA into schools unless you have permission from your teachers and principle.

  3. In California, ferrets are illegal. Can you override that law and have a ferret as an ESA even if it is illegal.

    1. Author

      Hi Marek,

      We cannot override that law. Ferrets can serve as an ESA but, only in States that allow ferrets to serve as a pet in the first place.

    2. Ferrets are illegal to sell and purchase in California. However, I do believe you can but a ferret across state lines where they are legally sold and travel back into California with your ferret. I’m not sure if any sort of licensing or certification is necessary for ownership. But I am sure you must be able to provide proof of ownership, as well as whether or not the ferret has been fixed.

  4. Hello when I moved into housing I had to sign a form agreeing that if I wanted to bring a pet in they first had to approve It and leave a deposit just in case the animal damage anything. Now my doctor feels that I would benefit from a emotional support animal. Could housing still make me pay for this ESA? I hope not because I really need this

    1. Author

      Hi Wilma,

      We can provide you with the Housing ESA Letter and complete the accommodation form that the landlord may have for the doctor to complete. With an ESA, you are exempt from pet deposits and fees.

      1. I had all the paperwork filled out by my psychiatrist to fly Delta. He is an African Grey Parrot.He tells me I must use your site and his legal team advised him of this. Can you explain.Does your pw override the airline policy.

        Sue

        1. Author

          Hi Susan,

          Thank you for reaching out! You can use our services for that airlines form!

    1. Author

      Hi Kacena,

      Yes, but it will depend upon the rules of the school itself. Some are more difficult to bring ESAs to than others.

  5. Once you get the paperwork out who do you call or send the paperwork to in Cattaraugus country NY. I would like a hedgehog. I’m bedridden & in a wheelchair. I was wondering if I would have to pay for everything? I live on SSI & disability that just get me by.

    1. Author

      We wouldn’t know the specific details but, before getting started with our services, be sure to look-up the laws in NY about hedgehogs being a pet.

        1. Author

          Hi Emma,

          Yes, fish can serve as ESAs in spite of not being able to provide much physical contact.

  6. Can reptiles be ESA animals examples like a ball python or a leopard gecko?

  7. I am 66 years old. I had bird as a companion for 11 years. Quaker Parrot. We were inseparable. My family said I was too close to her.
    I was diagnosed BiPolar, suicidal and homicidal tendencies in 1995. PTSD from a major car accident in 1994.
    I have issues nearly everyday, especially now that I’m pushing 70 years old.
    I loved my Sadi Girl. Please help me qualify for a bird as a Service Animal.
    My condition is somewhat soothed with my 4 cats, dog and garden.
    The last 3 years I’ve had back surgery; L4, L5 and scrum, fused with hardware, cervical surgery C3,C4,C5,C6,C7 fused with hardware. Right knee surgery. Fall risk. Panic attacks often.

  8. Hi I was wondering if sugar gliders can also be emotional support animal

  9. I know this is a strange question but could ball pythons qualify for ESAs?

    1. Author

      Hi Jessica,

      Generally speaking, yes, snakes can qualify as an ESA.

      1. My daughter has an ESA bearded dragon. She is flying Southwest Airlines on Saturday. Can they deny her ESA because it is not a cat or dog?

  10. I work for a rather large retailer and a customer came in recently claiming to have an emotional support animal, but the animal was a snake. I was just wondering, can a snake be an ESA or was he the guy likely faking? Thanks

    1. Author

      Hi,

      Snakes can serve as an ESA. Just be sure to view the accompanying documentation and verify that the doctor who wrote it is authentic by either calling the doctor or emailing them, do be sure to check the doctor’s credentials online as well.

      1. I thought the fine print read that public places are not required by law to allow ESAs – just flying and housing arrangements. Am I wrong? Another question – are mice and snakes allowed on planes?

        1. Author

          Hi Maria,

          To clarify, ESAs are protected under FHA/HUD for dwellings and the Air Carrier Access Act for airline travel only. So, ESAs are not permitted in public places including hotels, taxis, restaurants, trains, busses, or stores.

          Only Service Animals that are trained and certified for a specific work/function/task for the disabled are permitted in public.

          Some airlines have gotten strict on the the weight limit of ESAs and what type of animals can and can’t fly on board their planes while other airlines are more lenient.

    1. Author

      Yes, that is protected only for housing but not air travel.

  11. What are the rules for animals who provide care in a school setting? I suffer from depression, anxiety, and experience psychosis daily, me and my psychiatrist were thinking about perhaps purchasing an animal as an Emotional Support Animal, but I need help at school too.
    I want to get something small and manageable, such as a ferret, that I would keep a harness on and carry a pet carrier for hallways and such, but I’m not sure what the rules are.

    1. Author

      Hi Angela,

      It typically depends on what school you’re going to. Please contact your school advisor to see what they have to say about ESAs before considering our services.

  12. I have a question, I looked at a place and per their insurance, the bully breed isn’t allowed can they do that? I have a bully breed ESA.

    1. Author

      Hi Angel,

      ESAs are not allowed to be breed restricted. Any breed can serve as an ESA.

    2. Actually they can restrict a breed if it could cause their insurance to be dropped.

    1. Author

      Yes, for housing / dwelling only as airlines have blocked most species.

  13. Alaska Airlines no longer allows birds on planes as emotional support animals. Are they allowed to do that?

    1. Author

      Airlines have simply been getting more and more strict. They can impose restrictions.

  14. How many animals can a person have at the same time as emotional support?( ex; 2 goats, 4 dogs and 14 chickens)

    1. Author

      Hi Tina,

      Most airlines usually have a limit of one ESA per person. Landlords can allow up to three usually.

  15. I am in middle school and I was wondering if you think I could get a support animal.

    1. Author

      We suggest that you ask your parents about the idea for an ESA and be sure to ask your middle school counselors about their rules for ESAs. It is also a good idea to visit a psychiatrist to see if you do have a qualifying mental health issue so that our services can be useful to you.

    1. Author

      Hi Maria,

      Yes, we’ve successfully handled cases with ferrets before. Ferrets can be an ESA.

  16. I would like to know if a small rodent can be my ESA? Do you know of any agencies that will supply me with one free of charge?
    I am on a very low fixed income and will be 65 years old in March of 2019. I already received a letter from my Psychiatrist saying that I would benefit well by having an ESA.

    1. Author

      Hi Haley,

      Your mouse can be considered an ESA. It may need to be in the cage though. Also, do ask your college’s counselor about their rules for ESAs.

  17. Hi,
    Can a landlord request that my ESA puppy is vaccinated and licensed before entering the premises? The puppy I am rescuing is unfortunately too young to have all his vaccinations, and to be licensed(needs to be 4 months of age). Thank you.

    1. Author

      Hi Kim,

      Landlords usually request for many things to happen such as vaccinations, a certain breed, a certain weight or age. Usually, it is a good idea to try and abide by their requests/rules, even with ESAs.

  18. Can I have a snake in a restaurant knowing full well people are deathly afraid of them? Some people are afraid of dogs too.

  19. Can my turtle be considered an emotional support animal? She is only 5in so she is quite small and wouldn’t be a lot.

  20. Can my turtle be considered an emotional support animal? She is only 5in so she is quite small and wouldn’t be a lot.

    1. Author

      Hi Alex,

      Your turtle could definitely qualify as an ESA. As long as it helps alleviate any emotional distress symptoms.

    1. Author

      Hi! Yes, we’ve successfully handled cases with birds (parrots/parakeets).

    1. Author

      Canada has some different rules but, we have successfully helped patients with flights from the US to/fro Canada (specifically WestJet cases).

  21. I’ve been diagnosed in january 2016 with BPD with major symptoms being Severe Clinical Depression and Anxiety. I’m also currently taking meds and therapy. A year ago I adopted a black Lab that was rescued from the streets. This dog helped me greatly in coping with two Hurricanes, the loss of my gramps, my last year in university amidst the response and recuperating of my country and family problems that are of a persistent nature.

    During this period of a year I have noted certain behaviors that he has when I am about to have or have or have either an anxiety attack or a depressive episode. Said behaviors are markedly different than his normal attitude. These have markedly made a difference in my coping and dealing with said situations. These are: passively getting my attention by placing his head on my lap (normally he forcefully nudges your hand so you can pet him), sitting in alert mode to my left of my body. He makes sure that when he sits he can put his weight on my side, doesn’t let me out of his side or sight, he doesn’t budge when I hug him nor he will push me to pet him,lifks my face when I’m hyperventilating or sobbing hard, gets between me and the person shouting at me or stays by my side when someone talks in a harsh manner, and doesn’t lay down unless I sit on the floor next to him or when I head to my bedroom.

    Now, I do not know if he had formal training or not. But what I do know is that he was mistreated (he has horrible yelping and whimpering nightmares) previously to this and that he has made my life a heckload more simple to live through since he came.

    He knows basic commands and such. In your experience, for what he can qualify for and why?

    1. Author

      Hi Sara,
      This black Labrador can probably be an ESA at best. Service animals needs real training and usually cost a lot of money and are for individuals who have life-impairing conditions like being blind.

    1. Author

      Hi Genevieve,

      As unique as these animals are, they can be ESAs.

  22. I’m just curious if my snake could be a emotional support animal? And what if I’m not currently a patient anymore with my counselor?

  23. Can mynsnake be a ESA? also what if I am no longer a patient with my counselor?

    1. Author

      Hi Kaitlynn,

      Yes, a snake can be considered an ESA. Also, we have licensed mental health professionals that we can assign you to specifically for our services and they can assess your exam and situation from there.

    1. Author

      Hi,

      That will depend upon what your school guidance counselor says or what the rules are for the school you’re currently attending.

  24. will i be able to bring my ESA to high school? i would really like to know. thank you

  25. Please advise as to different types of animals I can consider for emotional support for a family with teens suffering from PTSD. There are other pets in the family a dog and a cat already. Thank you. Happy Holidays!

  26. Hi, I am a bipolar kid and i was wandering if any of my dogscan be allowed in school,I don’t really listen without my pet. thanks.

  27. Dose ADD or Social anxiety Count for a ESA

    And do goats count and teacup pigs

    1. Author

      Yes, those conditions can qualify for the need of an ESA as long as the ESA helps alleviate those symptoms. Those animals can be considered ESAs yes, but airlines and landlords may fight back with those.

    1. Author

      Yes,

      However, that may be inappropriate for flights and housing cases. Airlines have gotten a bit stricter with ESAs because of some incidents with pigs and turkeys being on board flights.

    1. Author

      Hi Jordan,

      Yes, a snake can be considered an Emotional Support Animal.

  28. hi i’m 12 and i have depression and i self harm a lot and i wanted an emotional support animal but my mom said no so i don’t know what to do. have any suggestions?

    1. Author

      Hi Cailey,

      You can try to ask your mom to see if you can visit a psychiatrist and have them test you to see if you do have a mental health disability. If you do, then you can ask her to reconsider and with her assistance, you can both view our services and exam here: https://www.emotionalpetsupport.com/#assessment

      1. Does emotional support has to be certified? also if a resident said their pet is use for emotional support, and as landlord we faxed over a Service /Animal Verification form to their physician, but the physician refused to filled out the form because their patience’s pet is not certified.
        can we ask that resident to pay the pet fee and pet rent, since her physician doesn’t feel comfortable filling out the form.

        1. Author

          Hi,

          The resident needs to have an ESA Letter from a physician (certifying is an outdated practice for emotional support animals). Service animals however, do need to be certified.

          A service animal is different than an emotional support animal, due to the potential liabilities of signing a form for a “service animal” and not an “emotional support animal”, that is usually why physicians are reluctant to complete such forms. Some landlords have forms that are more flexible with the verbiage and say “emotional support animal” and this helps the physician complete the form.

          The best option is to create a form that says “emotional support animal” and send then send the form to the physician for them to complete.

  29. If you want an emotional support animal that is exotic like a hedgehog where you can’t legally have one as a pet in Cali where I live. Can you still get one if its as an ESA?

    1. Author

      We highly suggest that you try to have another animal serve as your ESA. Simply because of the resistance you will receive and because of the nature of this animal. Our services only help you have a legal pet serve as your ESA for Housing and Travel cases, it doesn’t help you go above the law of an animal not being allowed to be your pet.

  30. Hello, can a goat be a emotional support animal in the city. I’m wondering because they classified it as a farm pet and not aloud in the city.

    1. Author

      Yes, a goat can serve as an emotional support animal, but please know that some airlines and landlords may fight back because of the needs and maintenance of this animal. Also, because of how uncommon this animal is as an emotional companion animal.

  31. hi

    I am doing this for a report I was wondering what is the largest animal that can be an emotional support animal?

    1. Author

      Hi Emma,

      The largest animal could be any breed of a dog that is roughly 120 pounds. Some airlines (United Airlines) have weight restrictions of up to 60 pounds for an ESA.

  32. how young can you be to have an esa? if i have depression and anxiety, what animal could be a good fit for me? i am still in school.

  33. Hey! Can a possum be considered an ESA? If so, what are the restrictions?

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    1. Hi,

      I suffer from major depression and anxiety. I also have PTSD and ADD. Would I qualify for an esa?

      1. Author

        Hi,
        Yes, you would. If you have an animal and strongly feel that that animal can help alleviate your mental health symptoms, you may want to consider taking our assessment. We may be able to help you. Reach out to us if you have any questions.

  35. Well, yes there are so many types of animals that can be esas though conventionally the two main types are cats and dogs. The thing is if you are looking to get an animal then you should opt between a cat or dog because there are many perks which come along with them. Like some flights dont allow you to fly with pets other than cats and dogs. It is preferrable to get a cat or a dog. I for say have a terrier. Got him an esa letter about two months back from this website myesadoctor. Just stumbled upon your article so thought to share my experience. Anyways great work.

  36. Do you need to be diagnosed with anxiety or depression to have an esa? Because if you have anxiety and panic attacks and cry yourself to sleep it’s alreaud pretty clear you have them?

    1. Author

      Yes, that is why we have an assessment for the doctor we will assign you to.

  37. It looks like you much of your verbiage is the same as National Service Animal Registry (NSAR). Are you affiliated with them?

    1. Author

      Hi Wayne,

      Some of our competition has copied and pasted our content on their own sites, word for word. We are not affiliated with any of our competitors, some of them tend to use our content.

  38. I currently have a letter/prescription from my physician (not a therapist) for my cat. But My new landlord is saying I need to have my animal registered as a certified service animal for a registered disability in order to be protected under ADA. But an ESA is different, right? If I get an updated ESA letter from a therapist, will I be protected?

    1. Author

      Hi Rachel,

      They are, but there is just a lot more regulations and paperwork necessary to have schools accommodate ESAs.

  39. How can a tea cup / mini pig be allowed as a pet? I have paranoid schizophrenia and high functioning autism. How can this be approved within city limits? How can I find a landlord that wouldn’t try to fight this?

    1. Author

      Hi Elizabeth,

      Yes, those dogs can serve as emotional support animals. Every landlord is different in how they attempt to interpret the ever-changing the rules and laws pertaining to ESAs.

    1. Author

      Hi Michelle,

      Yes, but there are standards and rules for how big it is and/or how much it weighs.

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  42. Hi there. we are in Massachusettes, my question is this, our town does not allow us to have our goats (3) at our house due to our lot size is smaller than required for livestock, would having them as an esa bypass this for mental health reasons?

  43. My daughter is almost 15 and has Moderate to severe depression and Anxiety. She also has ADHD/ADD. Could she qualify for an ESA?

  44. My son just moved into an apartment in college that has 5 individually owned rooms with a common living area and kitchen. Two of the five tenants had been in the apartment prior and 3 (including my son) are new this year. One of the 3 new tenants showed up with a pit bull as his “emotional support” animal. Even as a one year old puppy, the dog is aggressive and has to be restrained by the owner. To think this dog will always be restrained and never get out of the owners room is not realistic. The two existing tenants are petrified of this animal and it is causing them emotional distress. My wife and I are not happy about this either, as this breed is known to be unpredictable at best. Where do the laws fall when one’s emotional support pet is causing others emotional distress? The apartment management seems to be between a rock and a hard place as there is no vacancy to move this owner and his dog. Thanks for advice.

  45. Can you have a pig, rooster or cow in a city as an ESA if the city doesn’t allow farm animals or do you have to get an allowable animal for the city? thanks very much

    1. Author

      Hi,

      Yes, but there may be more pushback on those animals.

  46. hi i have a rabbit and would like to get her qulified asa service pet i am a vetern with 100% disable from the veterns what do i need to do

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