Getting an Emotional Support Animal in Santa Ana 

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santa ana california forestAre you thinking of getting an emotional support animal in Santa Ana, California? Read on to learn about what exactly emotional animals are, what they do, and how to get one, as well as the specific protection they are afforded.

Emotional Support Animal in Santa Ana, California: Specific protection

Before getting an emotional support animal in Santa Ana, you’ll want to get to grips with what an emotional support animal is, exactly, and what legal protections they enjoy under federal law. Don’t worry though, because we’ve rounded it all up for you here.

Definition of Assistance Animal

An assistance animal, as the name suggests, is an animal that provides assistance to people. More specifically, assistance animals help people with all kinds of tasks relating to disability, illness, and other conditions. “Assistance animal” is a general term, and these animals can be divided into different categories, depending on the kind of assistance they offer. There are two main kinds:

1. Service animal

Service animals are specially trained to help people with specific tasks relating to a physical disability. Common examples are a guide dog, a hearing assistance dog, and a dog trained to sense oncoming seizures. The most common kind of service animal is a service dog, though other kinds do exist. Service animals are the most protected by the laws we discuss below.

2. Emotional service animal (ESA)

Also known as a psychiatric service animal or companion animal, an ESA can be any kind of animal. They don’t require any special training, and cannot be certified. Rather, the owner is in need for an ESA for emotional comfort.

ESAs offer calming support to people with all sorts of mental disabilities, illnesses, and conditions, including anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Some of the laws below cover ESAs, but not all of them.

Not an Assistance Animal: Therapy animal

Again, these can be any kind of animal, though therapy dogs are the most common. Therapy animals work with a wide range of people, rather than one individual. They can often be seen visiting schools, hospitals, and residential care homes. Since they are not considered assistance animals, therapy dogs are not protected by any of the legislation covered below.

How to get an Emotional Support Animal in Santa Ana: CertaPet’s simple 5 min process

Getting an emotional support animal in Santa Ana can be a quick and simple process with CertaPet.

  1. Read up on what ESAs are, and whether one is right for you.
  2. Complete CertaPet’s free, quick, and easy screening process to see if you qualify.
  3. If you qualify for an ESA, CertaPet will connect you with a licensed mental health professional in your state. After a consultation, you could get your ESA letter in as little as 48 hours!

What is an ESA Letter?

An ESA letter is an official document that proves your need for an ESA. To be valid, it must be less than a year old, and written on letterhead paper or a prescription pad from a licensed medical doctor or mental health professional. The ESA letter must state the following:

  • That you have a diagnosed mental health condition or mental health-related disability
  • Your emotional support animal is necessary for your mental health or treatment
  • The type of animal
  • That the issuer of the letter is a licensed medical doctor or mental health professional, and that you are under their treatment or care for a mental health disability
  • The issuer’s license number, type of license, the license issue date, and the state or jurisdiction where it was licensed.

Travel Laws (Air Carrier Access Act)

The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) was brought in to protect people with disabilities from discrimination when traveling on commercial airlines. The Act protects people traveling with assistance animals, including both service animals and emotional support animals.

emotional support animal in santa ana airport

This means that these animals can travel in the cabin with their owners free of charge, even where the airline does not usually allow pets, and the airline must make reasonable accommodation to support them.

Do note, however, that a recent increase in passengers attempting to falsely pass their pets off as emotional support animals has caused many commercial airlines to tighten the rules on traveling with an ESA.

Many now require the passenger to provide an ESA letter proving their need for the animal, as well as veterinary certificates. If traveling with an ESA, make sure to check well in advance what your airline’s ESA policy is. Read on for more information on ESA letters.

Employment Laws

The ADA, or Americans with Disabilities Act protects people with disabilities from discrimination in the workplace. Part of this legislation states that employees must allow service dogs into the workplace, and make reasonable accommodation to support them.

The ADA does not cover ESAs, however. While some employees may permit ESAs in the workplace on a case-by-case basis with an ESA letter, they are not obliged to.

Housing Laws (Fair Housing Act)

The Fair Housing Act (FHA) protects people with disabilities who live in rented accommodation against discrimination by landlords.

The Act supports the rights of people with both ESAs and service dogs to keep them in their homes. However, landlords may require a valid ESA letter for emotional support animals.

ESA Campus Housing

University campus housing is also covered under the FHA, though again, housing providers are permitted to ask for an ESA letter.

Exception to Rules

While some of these Acts protect the rights of people with emotional support animals, they are focused more on the rights of people with service animals.

As such, there are certain exceptions to the rules where an ESA may be refused entry. Failure to supply a valid ESA letter or other required documentation, failure of the animal to behave properly in public places, and failure of the owner to keep the animal clean may all result in an ESA not being permitted.

Punishment for misrepresenting an assistance animal

In the state of California, falsely claiming that your pet is an assistance animal is classed as a misdemeanor. Perpetrators can face up to six months in jail or a fine of up to $1,000.

emotional support animals in santa ana apartment

5 Facts You Need to Know Before Receiving Your ESA

Before getting an emotional support animal in Santa Ana, make sure you’ve read up on these key facts.

  1. Emotional support animals are not the same as service animals and do not have the same rights of access. If you missed the round up of where you can and can’t bring an ESA, scroll back up now.
  2. There is no way of certifying or registering emotional support animals. Be wary of any service that offers to do this, as it is almost certainly a scam! Only an ESA letter can be used as proof of an owner’s need for an ESA.
  3. Although the ACAA protects the rights of people with ESAs to bring them on board aircraft, this does not cover all species of animals. Exotic or dangerous animals, for example, are not permitted. Different carriers have different restrictions, so make sure to check before you travel.
  4. ESAs do not need special training; however, they must be able to behave properly in public, and never become aggressive around people or other animals.
  5. Although there is no law requiring ESAs to wear vests or harnesses identifying them, it can be helpful when taking them into places where pets are not normally allowed.

Where to Find a Suitable ESA!

Any well-behaved animal can be an emotional support animal, so what better place to get one that an animal shelter or humane society? These places have lots of stray dogs and cats with lots of love to give! Try OC Animal Care on Victory Road in Tustin, where lots of lost dogs turn up looking for a new home.

We would always recommend taking your emotional support animal (or any new pet) to a veterinarian for a rabies vaccination and spay or neuter operation. Many veterinary surgeries offer all-inclusive packages that cover low-cost spay neuter options and low-cost vaccination options, including the rabies vaccine.

Where to Take your Emotional Support Animal

Once you have an emotional support animal in Santa Ana, you’ll want to go places together! The city has plenty of great dog-friendly spots where you and your emotional support dog can bond and hang out. Here are our top picks:

Dog Parks and Dog Runs

Let your emotional support dog run off some excess energy at one of Santa Ana’s dog parks, such as the Laguna Beach Dog Park or Recreation Park Dog Park in Long Beach.

Dog-friendly restaurants and bars

Going out to eat with your emotional support dog? The Filling Station, Citrus City Grille and Lucille’s Smokehouse Barbeque all welcome dogs, and come well recommended.

Resorts, fitness, and spas

What dog doesn’t love a good run on the beach? Why not take your emotional support dog to one of the many great beach resorts near Santa Ana for some rest and relaxation? The Tides at Laguna Beach, Hotel Current at Long Beach, and The Pacific Inn at Seal Beach are all great dog-friendly options.

emotional support dog in santa ana dog event


Look out for dog-friendly events, as these can be a great way to meet other dog owners and have some fun. Walkathons, fancy-dress parades, and even doggy swims can all be found in and around Santa Ana.

ESAs in Santa Ana: How to Get Connected with an LMHP in Your State Today!

Getting an emotional support animal in Santa Ana has never been easier. CertaPet can help you get connected with a licensed mental health professional in your state, and, if you’re eligible, you could get your ESA letter in just 48 hours.

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