Emotional support animals (ESAs) are dogs and other animals that provide therapeutic benefits to their owners by providing companionship, therapeutic benefits, or comfort. Therapeutic benefits can include reducing anxiety, depression, and improving self-esteem. ESAs are considered assistance animals under the Fair Housing Act and the Air Carrier Access Act, which means they may be allowed to be kept in an owner’s housing or taken along on a plane.
Many assume an emotional support animal is the same as a service animal, but they are not. A service animal is trained to perform a specific task or work, while an emotional support animal is trained to provide comfort. An animal would need to go through a training and certification process before they can be recognized as a service animal. In contrast, an emotional support animal doesn’t need training; they are simply any animals that provide emotional comfort and benefits to their owner.
Do Emotional Support Animals Require Registration?
Many aspiring owners of ESAs may wonder if they need to register their ESA with the government. The answer is that no, they do not. Although you may see offers on the Internet and elsewhere for emotional support animal registration and certification, they are not required to do so by the federal government. Most of these sites are likely scams.
So, you don’t need to go through a registration process for your emotional support animal. However, you do need to have a valid ESA letter from your doctor or a licensed mental health professional (LMHP). This letter can be sent to your landlord or airline to help them understand that you have a legitimate ESA and why you need to bring it with you.
What to Know About Getting an ESA Letter
If you do need to get an ESA letter, there are some things you should know. First, you will need to make sure that the therapist who wrote the letter is a licensed mental health professional. A therapist can provide an ESA letter for any person with a disability who has been diagnosed with an emotional or mental disability, including anxiety disorders, depression, PTSD, and panic attacks.
You should also be aware that your therapist will probably not provide an ESA letter if they deem that your condition is not serious enough to warrant one. If they can’t actually prove that an emotional support animal is needed for your treatment or that it can actually help your condition, they’ll likely deny your request.
Lastly, you should always be wary of offers online for free ESA letters. Many of these sites claim that you can simply fill out a form and receive your ESA letter in a few days. This is not true. Although some therapists may provide you with an ESA letter without charging you, most therapists will require payment for their services.
Furthermore, you’d need to make sure it is signed by a licensed expert. Otherwise, your ESA letter will likely be marked as not valid. Finally, an ESA letter is only valid for 12 months, so a pet owner would need to have it renewed yearly.
KimKim is a talented author, who loves animals especially dogs. She engaged in writing books and articles relating to animals a decade ago. Kim resides in Chicago with her husband and son. The family is the proud owner of a dog and a parrot (Jack and Lily). Kim wanted more than these two pets, but her husband put his foot down... She often visits elementary schools to talk to the kids about what she learned about pets and how they could learn from them.
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