You might already know that emotional support animals (ESAs) can help manage mental health conditions—a fact proven by a 2018 study published in BMC Psychiatry. The power of support from animals can bring happiness and relief to people struggling with a variety of issues—from depression and panic attacks to attention deficit hyperactivity disorders (ADHD) and certain phobias.
However, even if you’re familiar with the basics, there are several other helpful facts you might not know about ESAs.
Facts to Remember About ESAs
Here are ten of the most important things you should know about emotional support animals.
1. You need a letter from a licensed medical professional
Emotional support animals have a licensing process. To qualify, a licensed therapist needs to submit a letter that details your condition and need for an ESA. Many conditions qualify you for an emotional support animal. These include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), bipolar disorder, and many others. In some cases, individuals who have these conditions do not have a formal diagnosis, but working with a licensed clinician can still move the process along and help patients get treatment with an ESA.
Complete this free one-minute assessment form to help the specialists here at Emotional Pet Support LLC pre-determine whether you qualify for an emotional support animal or psychiatric service dog (PSD) letter. If you’re eligible, rest assured that we’ll make the next steps easy and convenient for you.
2. Emotional support animals are not limited to dogs
Although dogs are the most popular ESAs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, hedgehogs, birds, lizards, and most domesticated animals reasonably sized and have the temperament for the job can be an ESA. Even larger animals, such as horses and pigs, can be ESAs, but if you will be boarding an airplane, keep in mind that many airlines may not allow you to fly alongside these animals due to their size. Certain pets, such as tarantulas or snakes, are also challenging to qualify.
Are you planning to travel with your ESA? We recommend reading What You Should Know Before Traveling With An ESA to guarantee a smooth and hassle-free flight with your beloved pet.
3. Emotional support animals are part of a larger treatment plan
Similar to how medicine and therapy from psychiatric professionals are part of a treatment plan, so, too, are ESAs. Many people find that these companions are crucial to their progress in moving forward with life. Of course, while these creatures are not standalone “cures,” they do provide a level of comfort and support that most people cannot find amongst friends and family members. Having a good support system, as many of us know, is essential to coping with complex emotional disorders.
4. ESAs need to comply with import regulations, including quarantine laws
Emotional support animals can accompany you on planes and other modes of public transport in many instances, but you still need to follow the rules and regulations of your origin point and destination. For example, if you will be traveling to Canada, you may only cross the border with your companion if they have been vaccinated against rabies within three years of your date of arrival. In the Bahamas, an import permit from the Ministry of Agriculture, Trade, and Industry (Nassau) is necessary before you can enter the islands with your ESA.
Ensure to review all regulations before attempting to cross any border. If you don’t know where to start, read this guide to international pet travel.
5. The Fair Housing Act advocates for ESAs
If your prospective apartment complex has a “no pets” policy, you may still keep your emotional support animal thanks to the U.S. Fair Housing Act. This federal legislation enlists that landlords cannot refuse a potential tenant based on discriminatory factors, including race, color, national origin, and disability. Emotional support animals fall under the latter provision.
To become eligible for this accommodation, you must provide legitimate documentation from a licensed medical professional or present a valid ESA letter.
6. Students living in dormitories can qualify for an ESA
Campus housing systems should comply with the U.S. Fair Housing Act as landlords do. Many college and university students struggle with mental health challenges that the companionship of an emotional support animal can alleviate.
The process that allows ESAs in university settings is the same as it is for other settings—it involves documentation from a licensed therapist.
7. Housing providers should not require deposits for ESAs
Though some landlords require tenants to pay a deposit or additional fee for animals, legitimate emotional support animals are the exception, as ESAs are associated with a disability. However, there are limitations, which we will discuss below.
8. ESAs have limitations
In most cases, emotional support animals can accompany their owners anywhere. But certain types of housing providers, such as those who are renting out fewer than three units, can refuse to accommodate ESAs according to the guidelines of the Fair Housing Act.
9. Special training for ESAs is not necessary
The main difference between an emotional support animal and a service animal is that ESAs do not require any special training. There is a court ruling stating that an emotional service animal must facilitate their human companion’s ability to function in regards to their disability, but that does not entail specific or specialized training.
10. You don’t need to disclose the nature of your disability
The places that an ESA can company you to can legally require you to provide documentation of the disability necessitating you to have an emotional support animal, but they may not ask you about the nature of your disability. Privacy is guaranteed in the case of men, women, or children with a disability, including those that require the company of an emotional support animal. The complete details of any disability associated with an ESA should and will remain between you and your care provider.
Where Can I Get an Emotional Support Animal Letter?
Our services here at Emotional Pet Support LLC can help you to determine the documentation needed to certify the emotional support animal you need. More than another treatment method for disabilities, an ESA can give you the support and comfort you need to live a happier, more fulfilled life. Contact us today to join our 2,000+ satisfied patients.