Emotional support animals are becoming more and more popular as more people discover their therapeutic benefits. People who suffer from depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other mental health issues often find that their emotional support animals provide comfort, reduce stress, and provide a sense of calm and relaxation. Emotional support animals can also provide a therapeutic benefit to those with autism, chronic pain, or other physical ailments.
However, emotional support animals do not qualify as service animals under the ADA or Texas state law. Service animals must be individually trained to perform tasks that mitigate their handler’s disability. The tasks may include but are not limited to pulling a wheelchair, retrieving items, or guiding the blind. Meanwhile, emotional support animals are typically meant to provide comfort, but they do not provide any task-related assistance and they do not go through a thorough training process.
Generally, when a pet owner has an emotional support animal, they’d be allowed to bring these pets along to restaurants, shopping malls, and other public places. However, for your pet to be acknowledged as one, you’d need to have the necessary documents. Here’s what you need to know about emotional support animal certification in Texas.
Understanding Emotional Support Animal Certification in Texas
Unlike service animals, you do not need certification of the same caliber for an emotional support animal. Instead, what you’d need is an ESA letter or written statement from a licensed mental health professional (LMHP). This LMHP can come in the form of a counselor, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other licensed professional. In general, it must state that the patient is in need of emotional support and that the animal is able to provide this support.
You should note that not every disability can be eligible for an emotional support animal. Your condition would need to be significantly debilitating and considerably limit you from performing at your best independently. In addition, the LMHP must confidently state that owning an emotional support animal can actually benefit you. The statement must be issued in the form of a letter.
The good news is that this process is quite simple. You can ask for an ESA letter either through online means or by physically going to an LMHP’s office. This process can be expected to finish within a day or two on average. However, this letter is only valid for twelve months, so you’ll need to renew it every year. You can also renew it online through an online form.
By owning an ESA letter, you’d be able to bring your emotional support animal to public places like restaurants, shops, and public transportation. The letter would also serve as a reference for other agencies, like hotels and airlines.
Note that the ESA letter does not certify that your pet is trained to provide therapeutic benefits. It only certifies that the pet can provide emotional support to you. If you’re in need of a service animal, you’ll need a separate service animal certification or license from the state.
JulieJulie is a graduate of the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, where she studied Animal science. Though contrary to the opinion of her parents she was meant to study pharmacy, but she was in love with animals especially cats. Julie currently works in an animal research institute (NGO) in California and loves spending quality time with her little cat. She has the passion for making research about animals, how they survive, their way of life among others and publishes it. Julie is also happily married with two kids.
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