By now everyone in the United States has heard of Emotional Support Animals (ESAs). But what are they exactly, and how can you get one?
There is only one way: You need to get an ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional (LMHP).
Let’s take a closer look at an ESA letter and find out what information it needs to have!
Bringers of Calming Comfort and Companionship: Emotional Support Animals (ESAs)
We have the science to back up the massively beneficial impact which animals have on humans. Especially when people are stressed or having a rough time. For people who have emotional conditions, mood disorders or mental illnesses, the presence of an animal is even more important.
ESAs provide people suffering from disabilities with emotional support and calming comfort simply through their presence. Whether someone has a chronic anxiety disorder, manic depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), ESAs can help mitigate the symptoms of those disorders.
What is an ESA Letter and Why Do You Need One
An ESA letter is the legal document which distinguishes an assistance animal (ESA) from a pet. This letter is proof that you have an emotional and/or mental disability, and that your ESA is a part of your treatment of that disability.
ESAs also have legal protection. There are federal laws which give them certain rights and privileges, but more on that later.
Information That Should Be Included in a Legitimate ESA Letter
There is a clear list of information that every ESA letter should include. This information protects the privacy of the individual, in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but it does include the information that proves that the person has a right to make use of the ESA legal privileges.
Here is a list of what information an ESA letter sample must include:
- An official letterhead
- The name of the licensed mental health professional (LMHP)
- The name of the practice
- Phone number of the practice
- The type of medical license
- Date the medical license was issued
- The state of the therapist’s jurisdiction
- The type of animal
- That they are your therapist and are currently treating you for a disability recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM).
- The date the letter was issued
Most airlines require the therapist to include the following additional information:
- That you require the animal to travel
- The breed of the animal (mostly only dogs and cats are accepted on flights)
- The weight of the animal
Who Can Write an ESA Letter?
This is very, very important: only a licensed mental health professional (LMHP) in your state or your primary healthcare provider/doctor can issue an ESA letter.
If you’re ever confused about the technicality of who can write an ESA letter, just know that it will only be recognized by the law when written by the above health professionals.
ESAs Have Legal Rights to Help Their Owners Get Through the Day
There are two incredibly important federal laws that protect ESAs and their owners.
The Air Carrier Access Act
The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) states that anyone with a disability must be granted access to flights. This includes people with mental health problems. Anyone who has an emotional support dog or cat can fly with their assistance animal free of charge.
Although people may fly with a companion animal, they still have to adhere to the airline’s ESA or Pet Policy!
The Fair Housing Act
The second federal law that protects anyone with a mental disability is the Fair Housing Act (FHA). This Act states that people with disabilities must be provided with reasonable accommodation. This means that a landlord can’t discriminate against someone who needs to live with their emotional support animal (ESA).
The best part is that you can live with your ESA without paying any additional pet fees or deposits. Landlords even have to accommodate people despite there being a “no-pet policy” in place.
As you see, having that ESA letter opens up some great doors, so it’s not surprising that many people try to get their pets through those doors with a fake ESA letter!
An Emotional Support Animal Letter Sample is Just One Click Away
How convenient the internet is. Finding an ESA letter sample is only a quick Google search away. However, because only a licensed therapist such as a psychologist can issue an ESA letter, you cannot simply download one and expect to use it.
It’s fraud 101 and has hefty consequences when (not if) you are caught.
Ethics 101: Printing Out an ESA Sample Letter
There’s no wrong in printing out an ESA sample letter and taking/showing it to your licensed mental health professional to get a better idea of what it could look like. But it is up to your LMHP to write their own with the specific and proper information for you to have an emotional support animal. So it goes without saying: you should never fill it out yourself.
Faking an ESA letter is not only illegal, but it’s also completely unethical. The same goes for people passing their pets off as service dogs, a psychiatric service dog or support dog. People with real disabilities need their animals! People without disabilities don’t.
Remember: if you need an ESA letter, get an ESA letter from a LMHP and make sure everything on the ESA letter sample is on your ESA prescription!
The Bad Reputation ESAs Get Because of Fraudsters
Any animal lover would want their furry friend with them when they head off to college. But what happens when a whole bunch of people who don’t have mental illness uses fake ESA letters to make use of the legal protection only ESAs have. Printing out an ESA letter sample and filling it out yourself makes it a fake ESA letter, which is not ok!
New ESA Laws Aim to Make Using a Fake Emotional Support Dog Letter (or Cat Letter) Ilegal!
CertaPet is 100% behind all lawmakers who are creating systems to punish fraudsters. The same goes for airline policies that make it more difficult to get away with misrepresenting an ESA.
In certain states misrepresenting a pet as an assistance animal is a now misdemeanor. Most other states impose hefty fines for anyone caught committing this crime!
Be Wise When Printing Out an Emotional Support Animal Letter Template
It’s okay to print out an emotional support animal letter template when are you curious to learn what information an ESA letter should contain, but in no circumstances should you ever fill one out. Your licensed mental health professional is the only one who can and only after they have sat down and talked in-depth with you on your reasons why you need an ESA.
f you’re not currently seeing a doctor or a licensed mental health professional, CertaPet can help.
We know how time-consuming and stressful it can be to locate a healthcare provider within your network, commute to an appointment, and then wait in the lobby until your healthcare provider is able to see you. We also know that not everyone has access to health insurance or the means to pay for proper healthcare.
That’s why we’ve made it easier than ever for those living with a mental or emotional disability to get the support they need.
The first step is to take our free, 5-minute screening test.
If you qualify for an emotional support animal, then we’ll put you in touch with a licensed mental health professional, who will schedule a consultation with you.
They’ll determine if an emotional support animal is the right fit for your needs, and if it is, they’ll issue you an Emotional Support Animal Letter.
There’s no need to go another day struggling to manage the symptoms of your emotional or mental disability. The benefits of animal companionship are many, and an Emotional Support Animal can make a world of difference in your life. Take the free, 5 minute screening test today – your Emotional Support Animal Letter is just a few clicks away!