What is an Emotional Support Dog?
An Emotional Support Dog is a dog that a licensed mental health professional has determined provides some benefit to an individual with a mental or emotional disability. They do not require specific training and provide emotional or mental stability to their owner through their love and companionship. Emotional Support Dogs are also commonly called Companion Dogs and are a specific type of Emotional Support Animal (ESA). They are not service dogs.
What Disabilities Qualify for an Emotional Support Dog?
- Social Anxiety Disorder
- General Anxiety Disorder
- Panic Disorder
- Postpartum Depression
- Bipolar Disorder
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
- Phobias and Fears
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Seasonal Affective Disorder
Emotional Support Animal Prescription
An Emotional Support Animal Prescription is actually a letter from a Licensed Mental Health Professional or Physician. This is the ONLY requirement for your dog or cat to be an Emotional Support Animal. There are a number of websites and companies that offer to “register” your animal – this is not required and does not legally allow you to live or travel with your animal.
Legal Protections for Emotional Support Dogs
Two Federal Laws primarily protect the rights of people with Support Animals. Although the rights are not as expansive as those granted to Service Animals, there are still two very important points to be aware of.
- Living With Your Dog – The Fair Housing Act ensures that an individual requiring an Emotional Support Dog will be allowed to live with their animal. Furthermore, it prevents landlords and rental companies from being able to charge pet fees or deposits.
- Traveling With Your Dog – The Air Carrier Access Act ensures that people are able to fly with their Emotional Support Dog without having to pay additional fees. The airlines do require that they be informed in advance and that a recent (less than one year old) medical letter is provided as well.