ESA Certification in Pennsylvania
An emotional support animal (ESA) is a domesticated animal that provides emotional support and comfort to its owner. People with disabilities have the right to bring their ESA into public places such as restaurants, stores, and hotels. Those who adopt an emotional support animal are usually allowed to take their animal with them on airplanes. Emotional support animals are also allowed in many public housing and assisted living facilities.
Emotional support animals can help their owner deal with a variety of issues including depression, anxiety, and panic attacks. It is also common for an emotional support animal to be used to help a person cope with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They are not the same as service animals, however, which are trained to perform specific tasks for their owner. In fact, an emotional support animal does not actually need to be properly trained. An emotional support animal also does not have to be a dog or cat. Any domesticated animal can qualify as an ESA, including rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, and even gerbils.
For an emotional support animal to be allowed in certain places, the owner must provide proof that the animal is trained to behave appropriately in a public setting.
Understanding Emotional Support Animal Certification in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, a pet owner needs to get an ESA letter for the state to recognize that they need an emotional support animal. The ESA letter is a letter that the owner needs to provide to public places such as restaurants, stores, and hotels, among other places.
You can get an ESA letter from any licensed mental health professional (LMHP) who is working in the same state where you live. The LMHP will be able to provide you with an ESA letter that is on the state’s approved list. You don’t need any certifications or special training beyond having this letter in hand, contrary to popular belief.
The contents of the letter will include details on your disabilities and conditions, the type of emotional support animal you need, and a formal prescription by the LMHP for you to own and bring your emotional support assistant along with you. Keep in mind that this letter only remains valid for twelve months, and you’d need to renew it annually to keep benefitting from it.
There are many ways this letter can come in handy. You can show it to landlords when you’re looking for a place to live, or you can use it when you’re planning to take your emotional support animal on an airplane. A landlord will be required to accommodate your needs of an ESA, even if the place has a no-pet policy.
However, public places are still allowed to enforce the same rules and regulations they enforce for regular animals. For example, you may be asked to leave if your pet is particularly aggressive or poses a health risk to other people. And while your landlord needs to give you some leeway if you own an ESA, they are still allowed to ask you to move out if your ESA is disturbing the other tenants significantly.