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Emotional Support Animal FAQ

Emotional Support Animal FAQ

emotional support animal questions

When it comes to emotional support animals, or “ESA’s” -there’s no shortage of questions to ask, or misinformation to wade through. Here, we’ll attempt to answer the most frequently asked questions and to clear up the most common misconceptions concerning emotional support animals. If you still have any unanswered questions after reading the articles below, please send them to [email protected] and we’ll be sure to add them to our list.

What is an Emotional Support Animal?

An emotional support animal (ESA) is a pet that provides companionship to a person who suffers from symptoms of a mental or emotional disability. Learn more here.

How to get an Emotional Support Animal?

In order to qualify for an emotional support animal, you need a letter from a licensed mental health professional which outlines your need for the animal. Getting an emotional support animal letter used to be tedious but CertaPet has streamlined the entire process. Moreover, CertaPet is the only HIPPA Compliant website that can give you a certified ESA letter. Learn more here.

How to get an Emotional Support Dog?

Dogs are often preferred over other animals to serve as ESAs by both therapists and patients. If you are thinking about getting an emotional support dog letter and have specific questions, this article should be able to answer them. Learn more here.

What are the benefits of having an Emotional Support Animal?

Having an ESA comes with many benefits, such as being able to live with and even fly with your animal on commercial airlines free of charge. Learn more here.

Does my ESA need an Emotional Support Animal Vest?

A person who is assisted by an emotional support animal must have a properly formatted letter from a licensed mental health professional.

That’s all.

The ESA letter must state that the animal’s handler has an emotional or mental disability identified in the DSM V, and that the animal helps mitigate specific symptoms of the handler’s disability.

The letter is all that is required.

To reiterate however, an ESA vest made of a brightly-colored fabric, such as red or orange will help identify your pet as an emotional support animal.

Learn more here.

What is the Americans with Disabilities Act?

The Americans with Disabilities Act does not specifically address emotional support animals and primarily addresses Service Animals. Learn more here.

What is the Fair Housing Act?

Emotional support animals are protected under the Fair Housing Act, which prevents landlords from discriminating against people with disabilities. Learn more here.

What is Air Carrier Access Act?

The Air Carrier Access Act protects owners of emotional support animals from discrimination by commercial airlines, and allows them to bring their ESA’s in the cabin of the aircraft free of charge, even if the airline does not normally allow pets. Learn more here.

Should I use an Emotional Support Animal Registration Service?

There are plenty of websites who claim to ‘register’ of ‘certify’ your emotional support animal. Should you use such a service? Find the detailed answer in this article. Learn more here.

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212 Comments on "Emotional Support Animal FAQ"

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Kiana
Guest

I have a doctors note and I was wondering is it required to get the dog registered she got me the note but doesn’t know the next step and neither do I

CertaPet Staff
Admin

No, you do not need to register the dog anywhere. Make sure your letter includes a letterhead with your doctor’s details.

Faith
Guest

Can I have more than one ESA?

CertaPet Staff
Admin

Yes. Each animal must provide some separate therapeutic benefit. For that reason, many licensed mental health professionals are particularly cautious in recommending that 2 different dogs be Emotional Support Animals. Hope that helps. https://www.certapet.com/faq/what-is-an-emotional-support-animal/#7_Can_one_person_own_two_ESAs

Tiffany
Guest

I have 4 cats that I can not live with out do I have to have a separate letter for all of them and will you Write a letter for 4 animals

Melissa A.
Guest

I recently received a letter for a cat that I owned, but I discovered that I was too allergic and am now considering a dog instead. Would I be able to have my letter adjusted for a dog instead? Or would I have to purchase a whole new letter?

David
Admin

I’m so sorry to hear about your situation, but this would require a separate consultation with a licensed mental health professional and would require a second letter. I know this isn’t the best news, but the goal is to keep people from trying to manipulate the system for letters and to ensure the requirements licensed mental health professionals are met.

Erin
Guest

Hi thereI have 2 dogs. Can I submit a request for 2 letters from the same practioner?

David
Admin

Yes, it is possible to have 2 ESAs, but this is not common. Each animal must provide some separate therapeutic benefit. For that reason, many licensed mental health professionals are particularly cautious in recommending that 2 different dogs be Emotional Support Animals. Hope that helps.

Carola Handler
Guest

How can I exchange the medium vest for a small for my dog. Just
Received it and is way to big. Thank you.

CertaPet Staff
Admin

Hi Carola. Just return it to our address with a note saying what size do you want. Thank you.

Emma
Guest

What if I don’t have a Doctors note?

David
Admin

We are happy to put you in contact with a licensed mental health professional to communicate with you about your potential need for an ESA. That said, you MUST have a letter stating your doctor or a licensed mental health professional is recommending you for an ESA for you to be granted the rights afforded to people with an emotional support animal.

Jeff
Guest

Is there a way to get this letter in the form of a .pdf? I’m traveling now, and would like to have a copy before I get home.

Thomas
Guest

Hi there! I was wondering if the ESA letter from CertaPet gets incorporated into your permanent medical record. There are times in my profession that require me to give written permission to release my medical records for insurance and certification purposes – would the diagnosis from this letter come up?
Thanks so much in advance
T

UBhate
Guest

Hi Thomas, did you get any information about your question?

Rosalinda Griffith
Guest

How long take after fill the questions and recibe the message that you waiting for the therapist to take the request and to know if you have aprove your esa letter?

David
Admin

Hey Rosalinda,
This depends on the individual therapist. They are typically very quick to respond during the week and many will even respond on weekends.

Nancy Tulowitzki
Guest

I have two small Yorkers. Does the letter work for both? They can’t be separated.

Katie
Guest

I’m not affiliated with the site (I came here to look into getting a letter, actually) but you’d have to get a letter for each dog.

Cindy
Guest

The home I rent is a single rental home of the owner and is not through a property management company. Is the landlord exempt from complying with the ESA based on this?

Chihuahuas
Guest

I have 2 small chihuahuas and I have a letter from a licensed clinical psychologist that I need an ESA comfort and why . They came as puppies both together. Does that letter qualify for both ? Because their is nooo way I can be without the other and them either

Erica
Guest

I was wondering if Cetrapet has any business locations anywhere in the USA (Preferably Oregon in my case) where I can go in and choose any dog/cat for an ESA?

Shirlann Sanderson
Guest

I’m wondering the same thing

Jayden
Guest

Due to HIPAA/Privacy Laws, employers can’t actually get access to your medical records unless you were trying to enlist in the armed services

Em
Guest

I was wondering if this ESA certificate is valid in other countries?

Isaiah
Guest

Hi there quick question, what all did u have to do to be able to have your kitten living with u in your dorm? I’m trying to have my puppy able to do so as well. Thanks 🙂

Phyllis
Guest

Will, Disabilities are private due to HIPAA. It is your responsibility to determine when, how, and to whom to disclose your disability. For example, in a college setting, you don’t need to tell your Professor what you “have” only that you have documentation that necessitates an emotional support animal and if he has any questions she/he can discuss the situation with the Disability Support Office, who would have read through your documentation fully.

Jenna
Guest

I am planning on getting a dog within the next couple of days, do I need to train the dog or not?

Will
Guest

I was wondering if anyone knew about The designation of being mentally ill or disabled by a mental illness is something that will affect you for the rest of your life?

For example, the designation of being mentally ill or disabled by mental illness is part of your public record which is available for viewing by potential employers, law enforcement agencies, landlords and rental agencies, real estate offices, banking institutions, credit extenders, social services agencies, and anyone else who wishes to view your public records?

Anyone?

michelle
Guest

Your medical records are not public information. HIPAA protects patient information

Annette
Guest

If it is stated in your medical records than you are protected by HIPPA. Your medical team has access to it. If anyone wants to see it they have to get written permission, release of records, filled out and signed by you. Police and employers can’t just go in to see it.

Donita
Guest

If your primary doctor is treating you for your emotional/mental disabilities, then he/she would write the letter.

Vicki wildes
Guest

I have an ESA but she also acts as a service dog in that she tells me when I’m going to have a severe panic attack or “shut down” and has pulled me out of these attacks. Where can I get more specific training than her Good Canine Citizen training?

Annonymous
Guest

Vicki, she counts as a service animal. Under the law you need no documentation to prove she is a service animal. All you need to do is when asked “is this a service animal” and “how does she help you” is say that she alerts you to severe panic attacks. This is for the USA, though.

Brittany
Guest

First you would need to make sure your anxiety and panic attacks are severe enough to be considered a disability in order to qualify for a service dog. After that you can google different service dog organizations in your state to find a trainer that will work with you to see if you dog is fit to become a service dog. Because not all dogs have the right temperament or would enjoy working. Then they can work with you to train tasks and make sure they get the training needed to work in public.

Vicki wildes
Guest

Only if your doctor has stated in writing that you need the animal

Vicki wildes
Guest

No you can not be charged either a deposit or “pet rent”. Get your doctor to write a letter on their professional letter head stating that you require the animal.

Daisha
Guest

How do you classify it as a service dog if it’s just for emotional support?

Alleah Rich
Guest

It is allowed because ESA’s are like any other SA. Show them your license if you have to. It nullifies that 100%, it’s illegal for them to not let you take your ESA animal.

Vicki
Guest

What is the purpose of registering your ESA? Is it required? I don’t see anywhere that states it’s required, just various amounts to buy a certificate and tags, and vest?? I have my letter from my actual Dr. isn’t that enough?

Tina
Guest

Not sure where to ask this, hopefully this is the right place. I have an ESA and was recently told that I was not allowed to have him in my car while picking my fiancé up at work because they say “no dogs on premises”. I am only there for a total of maybe 5 minutes. Does anyone know if this is allowed? He never gets out of my car.

Teri
Guest

I’m no expert. But if your dog is in your car the entire time, he should be allowed. Technically, your dog does not put a paw on their property.

Dai-yja
Guest

Yes. I am bringing my kitten to college with me. Just talk to your resident hall, they can help you.

Would you like your business to be on tv?
Guest
Hi there! I honestly can’t think of any business that wouldn’t want their business in a tv commercial. However its really expensive and so untargeted! How many sales or customers do you think you will gain if you had a commercial running when they were looking for your business? My name is Steve and I am looking to work with a few businesses for an online commercial. Instead of being on TV, I want to put your business front and center with a video billboard (commercial) on Google & Youtube in your local area. Not just 1. Not just 5.… Read more »
Alex C
Guest

Not true. At least in the several states I’ve lived in. Places are, however, afraid of getting in trouble so they have let my ESA into restaurants before. (I’m bad lol)

LORETTA DICENSO
Guest

yep-had one sitting across from me last week. He was better behaved than the kids at table behind me. WOULD RATHER DINE WITH THE LITTKE DOG THAN SOME PROPLE.

Alex C
Guest

Yep! I was able to.

Katy
Guest

Would this allow me to be able to bring my ESA to college with me and stay in the dorms with me?

Robyn
Guest
I suffer from severe anxiety and depression disorders and I have severe panic attacks in certain situations. My therapist had never heard of needing to write a letter to have an ESA. I used one of the online sites to get ‘registered’ which I know now was wrong. My ESA is a small snake. She stays in her little critter carrier most of the time. Does it still bother people even though no one can see her and she doesn’t make any noise or smell? I know it’s hard to train snakes as service animals but I need to take… Read more »
Amanda
Guest
In all honesty if it’s that bad train your own dog. Pay to take the classes. I knew a person who selfed harmed and her dog became a service dog after learning to “not allow” that type of behavior. The dog still went though some basic training to learn how to ignore other people and dogs. And eventually self learned how to know before her owner was going to have a panic attack and would warn her ahead of time. Dogs who start out as Esas can become service dogs. I just don’t think it’s right to take them places… Read more »
Selena
Guest
I just registered my dog as my ESA and would like to know if I still have to pay a pet deposit with my landlord? I keep looking at different sites to find out and get mixed answers. She is registered because since I’ve had her she is able to sense my seizures before they happen and alert me to stay near my phone, call someone just in case, and she also senses when I’m about to have a bad anxiety or panic attack. Should I also get her registered as my service dog? Or leave her as my esa?… Read more »
Tee
Guest

Then you are breaking the law. Only trained service animals are allowed in grocery stores, restaurants,…etc it’s a felony offense to impersonate a serivce dog, no matter what you believe your needs are. If it’s that important for your dog to be with you..do as the rest of us with a legal service animal did and learn the laws and get them trained and certified as such. Just because you think you ‘need’ your emotional service animal with you, doesn’t mean the law allows you to take them everywhere you go.

Kay
Guest
I know here where i live they are not allowed to ask if my dog is a service animal or what i need a service animal for but they are allowed to ask what task they can preform like my dog alets me before having an asthma attack siezer or black out spell he can preform the task check me on comand when asked after i notice him winning depending where he liks me tells me whats going on with me that is causing him to wine now my service dog is a boxer mix he is allowed on the… Read more »
Lauralie Francis
Guest

YOU ARE a Unsympathetic, ARRS !
How is it YOU feel the Ability to KNOW an Individuals Physical and Psychological NEEDS ?
I Pray for your Mentality AND Needs if… OR When YOU ARE ever inn; ” OUR ” Physical OR Mental State / Condition!
Are you Qualified to UNDERSTAND, FEEL for Another’s NEEDS ?
OBVIOUSLY…. Not !
Do Not Judge Lest Be Judged… May The One and Only God in Trinity be With your soul… Empty ? + + +

Rachel Flanagan
Guest

Its been a week since I was approved and I still haven’t received my letter. My flight is on monday so I’m concerned that paying for this will have been pointless since I wont have my letter in time to use it.

AJ
Guest

They have the right to ask you 2 questions…1. What has the dog been trained to do and 2. What does the dog do for you. The answersbto these questions will quickly tell the person whether the dog is a service animal and not simply an ESA.

AJ Bennett
Guest

No it is not. Please do not mislead people. The ADA does NOT recognize ESAs as a service dog. Many of the grocery stores and restaurants have signs that fully state that while service dogs are welcome strictly ESA dogs are not allowed.

Johnny
Guest

Your comments are stupid and pointless. You obviously think you know everything and dictate the law because you read a book and didn’t finish it. Anybody can have a dog and with proper letter can take to the Mall, Store ect. No one will stop you and if that bothers you stay home in your safe space as you seem to be the one unhinged and on the edge because people don’t conform to the way things you think should be.
I’m more worried that they don’t screen people like you for issues when fire arms are allowed.

Johnny
Guest

Wow what a crime bringing your dog with you to the mall. Call me unhinged because Id rather be with my dog than most people who are aholes like yourself. And a felony for impersonating a service dog really how much time would my dog do for that one?
Get of your high horse lawyer wannabe.

Tom
Guest

I have a service dog for emotional support. It’s under my daughters name though. She can’t keep the for anymore because her child is allergic. Can i keep the dog and if so does the housing law still apply?

Annie Buerhahs
Guest

My mother has stage 3 COPD and becomes easily anxious in new situations. I travel for work and want to take her with me on occasion. I have found when she has her dog with her she remains calm and everything is good. Without the dog she has panic attacks, breathing becomes so labored she needs to do a breathing treatment and lye down. She has a diagnosis of Anxiety. So when I do the ESA registry will this allow me to bring the dog to hotels?

Raksha
Guest

Yes. But it unfortunately would not let the dog in stores or other public places even if it is well trained

Susan Lince Blais
Guest

No. Emotional Support Animals ONLY are permitted in Housing where dogs not allowed and fly in Cabin on Commercial Airlines. FHA/HUD are the legal Housing Authorities and ecplains in greater detail.

Snotty Service Snake
Guest
Having a prescribed ESA is exactly what this is for: housing and travel. While your mother cannot take her dog shopping or to restaurants, she can have it in the hotel with her and on the plane (without crating). If you find that your mother needs the dog to help with anxiety in most situations, then it is time to invest in some service animal training. The dog must be able to perform a task or tasks to be of “service” when your mom is having a panic attack. Merely being present is not enough to be a service animal,… Read more »
Anonymous
Guest

not necessarily true. I work at a Marriott resort that does NOT allow ESAs.

savanna
Guest
The hotel is not required by law to allow the ESA animal. It is not covered under the fair housing act because a hotel/motel is not considered a “dwelling”. The only animal that is covered is a service dog. I would suggest a pet-friendly hotel to save all the hassle and troubles. I also wanted to point out that it is not necessary to register the animal. All your mother would need is a note from her mental health doctor and that is it. The animal does not have to have special training or anything else. The registry is to… Read more »
W.M.L
Guest

That statement is ALSO false! An ESA IS allowed anywhere a service dog is allowed. Grocery store, retail store, courthouse, no dogs allowed beaches, etc…… I KNOW this FROM experience!! A person’s ESA IS performing a “service”, by keeping the pet owner relaxed, & calm in different settings. THAT to me IS a “service” performed by the ESA!!

Jen Baker
Guest

This is simply wrong. This doesn’t not comply with the law at all. Look it up

Snotty Service Snake
Guest
W.M.L. Your experience is not the same as the law. Additionally, typing with an exclamation point or interobangs also does not make your statement true. You are ill informed at best and well, an indiscriminate law breaker at worst. Giving bad information takes you to new lows that I have not yet labeled, but will eventually as my background in law, social work, SPECIAL education, and dog training will enable me to grope for an accurate description of your bad advice and terrible writing. To wit: An ESA is not a service animal (irrespective of all punctuation). An ESA classification… Read more »
Teri
Guest

@Service Snake-
It seems you have a lot of information to share. But please don’t answer any of my questions. You are very insulting.

JoMammas Arse
Guest

Felony? Your heads up your arse. Quit being a douchebag,

W.M.L
Guest

You just said your dog is self trained, therefore your service dog is NOT certified. So, if a person’s ESA has to be left home because it interferes with YOUR dog, maybe your “service” dog NEEDS to remain home, because IT interferes​ with another person’s ESA!!

jade
Guest

legally Emotional support animal are NOT allowed in places service dog’s are allowed so technically your “esa” is the one interfering with a service animal

Snotty Service Snake
Guest
W.M.L., A service dog can be “self-trained” as there is no formal certification for a service animal. However, slapping a vest on your pet and typing with poor punctuation does not make them a service animal. I have paid thousands of dollars and spent hundreds of hours training my dog. He still just an ESA and either stays home or goes to day care when he cannot be with me because I have enough integrity to not break the law. Maybe something you want to think about before giving unwitting, but law abiding people, your ill-informed advice. I suspect the… Read more »
Caitlin Delgado
Guest

This is not just so you can have your pet in the house with you when they otherwise wouldn’t be allowed. …. some people actually need an emotional support animal. Please don’t ruin it for those of us who actually have mental disabilities

Snotty Service Snake
Guest
If the severity of the disability is such that the animal needs to be with you all the time, then invest in service dog training. The dog (I assume it’s a dog) must be trained to perform a task. Example: Peggy has PTSD and when she has an episode or a bout with it, she becomes disoriented and panicky; she starts breathing hard and may verbally or physically lash out when people offer help. Shep, her SERVICE DOG, is trained to lead her to a quiet place and “body block” her to keep a safe distance between her and others.… Read more »