Emotional Support Animal Guide: 2019 Update

The Bottom Line.

An emotional support animal is a dog, or cat, or other pet that helps alleviate symptoms of an emotional or mental disability through companionship and affection.

Emotional support animals have improved and changed the lives of so many, and for those truly in need, having one of your own is only a letter away.

Can't Wait to Get Started?

The ESA Application process at CertaPet starts with a fast, free screening test that you can take right now. It takes only 5 minutes and shows if you may qualify for an ESA right away.

Once you receive the result, you can choose and pay for your desired letter.  

Overall, most dogs and cats are recognized as appropriate emotional support animals with the exception of a few outside breeds.

In order for your dog or cat to be accepted as an ESA, you must have an Emotional Support Animal Letter (ESA Letter, sometimes called an emotional support animal prescription) from a Licensed Mental Health Professional (LMHP). 

Table of Contents

Emotional Support Animal Letter

As mentioned, an Emotional Support Animal letter can only be issued by an LMHP, and should recognize that you are a patient under his/her care for mental and emotional disabilities.

The letter should prescribe an emotional support dog or cat for you as a necessary reinforcement for your mental well-being.

Letters are usually issued under the LMHP's letterhead and include licensing details and information for further correspondence with the LMHP if required.

Appropriate Emotional Support Animal

The ESA Letter options at CertaPet are as follows:

  • ESA Letter for Housing
  • ESA Letter for Travel
  • ESA Travel + Housing Combo Letter 

ESA Letter for Housing

Like the name suggests, an ESA letter for Housing, or an ESA Housing Letter, is written specifically for your housing needs in reference to the Fair Housing Act and relevant regulations in your state.

The ESA letter for housing enables access for your emotional support animal even in a no-pets housing complex, and helps you avoid pet fees and deposits if there is any.

The cost to get an ESA Housing Letter through CertaPet is just $149.

The price covers screening, evaluation, therapist consultation and free shipping - everything involved in getting an ESA Letter delivered to you.

You may also choose to get the House + Travel Combo letter for just $199.

Physical letter delivery not available in Canada.

To learn more about the Fair Housing Act, click here. 

If you are considering getting an ESA Letter for Housing, start by taking the free screening test here.

ESA Letter for Travel

ESA letter for Travel, or ESA Travel Letter, is written specifically for your flying needs in reference to the Air Carrier Access Act and relevant regulations in your state.

All US domestic Airlines allow ESA owners to travel with their Emotional Support Animals, with some exceptions depending on the Airlines.

The cost to get an ESA Travel Letter through CertaPet is just $149.

You may also choose to get the House + Travel Combo letter for just $199.

The price covers screening, evaluation, therapist consultation and free shipping - everything involved in getting an ESA Letter delivered to you.

Physical letter delivery not available in Canada.

To learn more about Air Carrier Access Act, click here.

If you are considering getting an ESA Letter for Travel, start by taking the free screening test here.

How to Get an Emotional Support Animal Letter

The process to obtain an ESA letter is simple.

Behind every letter is a Licensed Mental Health Professional (LMHP), such as a Psychiatrist, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, or Psychologist evaluating, working with, and testifying to their patient’s need of an emotional support animal.

An Emotional Support Animal letter will typically include the name of the patient plus details about the animal (name of the animal, breed type, etc).

Conditions that may qualify you for an emotional support animal.

CertaPet is an online platform that helps you get connected with a LMHP in your state and receive your ESA letter in as little as 48 hours right from the comfort of your home. CertaPet LMHPs are experts about animal-assisted therapy and understand the benefits emotional support animals bring to people in need.  

The CertaPet Process

To better clarify, watch the process and see just how CertaPet helps you get the treatment you need. The right way.

An ESA Letter from CertaPet provides:

  • Recognition that you are a patient on a case-by-case basis under a licensed mental health professional’s care for mental or emotional disabilities.
  • Verification that you are significantly limited by an individual disability, such as depression or a similar condition, affecting your mental well-being.
  • Prescription for an emotional support dog (also known as a companion dog), or other support animal, as a necessary reinforcement for your mental health within 48 business hour

Once you receive the letter, you are free to use it whenever you travel or live with your animal.

That’s it.

How much does CertaPet Cost?

The cost to get an ESA Travel Letter or an ESA Housing Letter through CertaPet is just $149.

You may also choose to get the House + Travel Combo letter for just $199.

ESA TRAVEL LETTER

$

149

  • Letter for air travel.
  • No airlines fees for your ESA.
  • ESA flies in cabin.

ESA Housing LETTER

$

149

  • Letter for housing complex.
  • No pet deposits.
  • No monthly pet fees.

Ready to Apply? Get Started Here

The ESA Application process at CertaPet starts with a fast, free screening test that you can take right now. It takes only 5 minutes and shows if you may qualify for an ESA right away.

Once you receive the result, you may proceed to choose and pay for your desired letter.  After payment, you will receive access to your account and will be put in connection with your therapist right away.

About Emotional Support Animal Registration Services

Emotional support animal registration or emotional support animal certification is not real or legitimate.

You do not need to register your ESA in any database to be a legal emotional support animal owner.

All assistance animal registration and certification should be avoided at all cost. No matter if it is called “national service dog registry”, “emotional support dog certification”, or any of the like, stay clear.

However, you do need an Emotional Support Animal Letter. It needs to be issued by a Licensed Mental Health Professional in your state. To learn how to get an Emotional Support Animal letter, click here.

We have detailed the ways you can identify a fake ESA Service in the following section. Click to expand it.

How to Identify a Fake ESA Service

Are Emotional Support Animal Registration Sites Legitimate?

What is an Emotional Support Animal 'Certification'? Do I need to get my ESA 'certified'?

Frequently Asked Questions about Emotional Support Animals

Do emotional support animals require training?

Is the ESA letter all I need to become an emotional support animal owner?

What happens when the airlines staff or landlord ask to see my proof that I’m an ESA owner? Are they just asking for my ESA letter?

Can my landlord reject my ESA?

Does my ESA need a vest?

Can an emotional support animal go anywhere?

Can one person own two ESAs?

Who can prescribe an emotional support animal?

Can an emotional support animal application be denied?

Can you bring an emotional support animal to school or college?

Can you bring an emotional support animal to work?

Does an emotional support animal have to be certified?

Can I take my emotional support animal to a no-pet hotel?

Are emotional support animals allowed in restaurants?

The 2 Main Emotional Support Animal Laws

There are two main federal laws applicable to ESAs and their owners, these include the Air Carrier Access Act and the Fair Housing Act.

It is important that anyone considering obtaining an ESA letter be aware of the laws that apply to owners and what they should expect from Emotional Support Animal Letter provider under the law.

Flying Laws 101: The Air Carrier Access Act

The Air Carrier Access Act was passed in 1990 and works alongside Department of Transportation rules prohibiting discrimination of disabled individuals traveling by air.

According to the Air Carrier Act provisions, airlines are not allowed to refuse transportation, limit, or require advanced notice before offering service to individuals who are disabled, which covers the need to accommodate ESA owners who have verified identification.

The ACAA grants ESA and Service animal owners the right to bring aboard their assistance animal free of charge. But before you fly with your ESA, make sure to have:

All domestic airlines companies now require that you prepare a few more documents to travel with your ESA. These forms may include:
  • Your Emotional Support Animal Letter
  • Any additional forms required by the specific airline. These usually include:
    • Veterinary Health Form (ensuring your emotional support animal or dog has been vaccinated and is registered - must be signed by a Vet)
    • Copy of the Animal’s Current Shot Record
    • Signed Testament to the Animal’s Behavior

Housing Laws 101: The Fair Housing Act

The Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 (FHA) states that apartments or housing communities that do not allow pets must make an exception for emotional support animals and make suitable accommodation for them and their owner.

  • ESA owners must be legally allowed to keep their support animal even in no-pet housing.
  • ESA owners are exempted from pet deposits or pet fees.

The landlord of the apartments or housing community may require a proof of documentation indicating that the patient is in the need of an emotional support animal due to their mental or emotional disability. This documentation is an emotional support animal letter or ESA letter, which is written a licensed mental health professional (LMHP).

Want to read about the laws in even great details? Check out this comprehensive article about emotional support animal laws.

Do Not Confuse Emotional Support Animals with Service Animals and Therapy Animals

ESAs, service animals, and therapy animals all provided different aid to specific disabilities or situations. Learn the key difference between the three!

First, the term “assistance animal” only cover two types:

  1. Emotional Support Animals
  2. Service Animals

While therapy animals do give comfort and care, they do not have individual owners but rather are used in retirement homes, nursing schools, hospices, disaster areas, and more. Because of this, they are not eligible to receive the reasonable accommodations commonly extended to service dog or emotional support animal owners.

Registries often (deliberately, we might add) confuse service animals and emotional support animals.

While an emotional support animal helps ease the pain of a mental or emotional disability through companionship and affection, a service animal (including psychiatric service dogs) is any animal that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a disabled person.

ESA are NOT service dogs.

We don’t advertise as so and is important for you to understand if you are wanting to obtain an ESA letter.

Here’s a quick rundown on what ESAs can and can not do when compared to Service Animals

How to Ask Doctor for Emotional Support Animal Letter?

If you are significantly limited by a disability and believe that an emotional support animal will help with your mental well-being, feel free to confidently approach your doctor and request a letter. From there, they will determine if you benefit from an ESA.

If you are not seeing a doctor or a licensed mental health professional, CertaPet is always here for you.

Get connected with a LMHP today, and you could receive your ESA letter in as little as 48 business hours!

And remember - emotional support animals are more than just pets; they’re family.

All product and Company names are Trademarks™ or Registered® trademarks of their respective holders.

  • Barbara Urbahns says:

    Housing wants me to give them a name and address so they can contact whoever personally about a disability and/or need for an ESA. How does this work if i am getting it through certapet and online?

  • Yvonne Farquhar says:

    Does your screening include requirements for Canada?

  • Eva says:

    I know it /you say ESAs don’t need
    To be legally trained but is there
    Other things besides my Letter
    From my Dr and my dogs ID Card?
    I would like to make sure I’m doing
    Everything Legally and have My
    Boy as Legal as possible for Both the ACAA & FHA o talked to a couple Airlines one said a vest ID tag as well as a letter (s) From. The vet
    Is what this specific Airline Requires
    And how where can
    I find out if My ESA
    Is allowed on over seas flight
    As I don’t wanna get half way to my
    Destination and find out my ESA
    Is not allowed on the International flight

    • CertaPet Staff says:

      You need your letter.
      You don’t legally need a vest. But like the airlines staff suggested, some organizations may prefer that ESAs wear a vest.
      For an overseas flight, you must talk to your airlines beforehand as not all international destinations recognize Emotional Support Animals.