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Emotional Support Animal FAQ

emotional support animal questionsWhen 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 emotional or mental disability such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and more. Unlike a service animal, an emotional support animal is not granted access to places of public accommodation. An ESA is an animal that is not specifically trained to perform, tasks for a person who suffers from emotional disabilities. Under the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA), an emotional support animal is viewed as a “reasonable accommodation” in a housing unit that has a “no pets” rule for its residents.
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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 verifiable ESA letter.
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What are the benefits of having an emotional support animal?

As an owner of an Emotional Support Animal, you can enjoy two legal benefits: You can fly on a plane with your ESA regardless of breed or weight restrictions at no additional cost but please keep in mind that airline companies have their own policy of what type of animals you can bring on board, cats and dogs are okay; and you can live in housing that usually requires pet rent or deposit and regardless of pet policy at no additional cost.

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What is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?

The Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, does not specifically address emotional support animals and primarily addresses Service Animals.
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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.
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What is the 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. However, though ESAs do not have to be trained or do certain tasks like service dogs, they are expected to act appropriately and not cause any disturbance or harm to other passengers or animals.
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“Is CertaPet Legit? How Do I Know It’s Legal?”

CertaPet has helped over 61,000 pet owners, just like you, get an Emotional Support Animal.

We have over 1,500 reviews on Google, Yelp, Facebook, and ShopperApproved.

We can assure you that all of our mental health professionals are licensed. Our Licensed Mental Health Professional network covers 50 states and has more than 30 members.

Additionally, CertaPet is BBB Accredited.

There are two main federal laws that apply to ESAs: the Air Carrier Access Act, and the Fair Housing Act. Our ESA Letters are fully compliant with these laws and are all approved by fully qualified mental health professionals. This ensures our letters are 100% legal.

CertaPet is also the only HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) Compliant website that can give you a certified ESA letter.

Still unsure about CertaPet? Just call us at (877) 207-0561 and speak with a member of our customer support team.

I just completed the screening. What’s next?

First you need to select which ESA Letter is best suited for you: Housing, Travel or Combined. You then need to purchase a consultation with a mental health professional.

You will then fill out a more in-depth assessment and your assigned mental health professional will determine whether or not you would benefit from an ESA. If approved, they will personally write a licensed recommendation for an Emotional Support Animal.

How long does the approval process take?

If approved, you will get a digital copy of your emotional support animal letter within 2 business days and a physical copy will be sent via USPS Priority Mail within 5 days.

If you do not hear from us within this time, please contact our support team.

What is the refund policy?

Your consultation is protected by CertaPet’s Money-Back Guarantee.

If, for any reason, your application is not approved by the Licensed Mental Health Professional your fee will be refunded, excluding a $35 consultation fee.

What kind of Licensed Mental Health Professional will sign my letter?

Our LMHPs consist of Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists, Licensed Clinical Social Workers, Licensed Clinical Professional Counselors, and Licensed Mental Health Counselors.

All of our Licensed Mental Health Professionals are fully qualified and have passed board exams. The LMHP we select will be one that is legally qualified to approve ESA Letters for your state.

Which ESA Letter should I choose?

First you need to select which ESA Letter is best suited for you: Housing, Travel or Combined. You then need to purchase a consultation with a mental health professional.

If your pet lives with you then you should get the Housing letter. If you expect to fly at least once in the next year, then we recommend getting the combined Housing and Travel letter. This combination will save you the most money. If you own your own home or already have a Housing letter, then you should get the Travel letter on its own.

What does the letter look like?

The ESA Letter comes directly from a LMHP with their license number and their contact information. The letter will come on the professional letterhead of the licensed mental health professional and have everything legally needed for an ESA prescription within the body of the letter.

Will I need additional forms besides the letter?

No. Your ESA Letter covers all the legal requirements.

Occasionally, custom forms are required. More airlines such as Delta and Alaska Airlines have started requiring more forms in order to fly with your ESA so be aware if you need additional documentation. Find more ESA Policy for specific airlines such as Jetblue, Spirit, and more hereIf a custom form is needed then you can login to the CertaPet platform and request one from your therapist.

 

How do I submit my ESA Letter to a landlord or airline?

We send you copies of your ESA letter both digitally and in the mail.

For landlords, we strongly recommend that you present the letter immediately in-person. Nearly all landlords are extremely accommodating.

For airlines, you must call the airline during booking or a couple of weeks prior to your flight.

What rights do I get with an ESA Letter? Where can I take my ESA Letter?

Your rights depend on which ESA letter you applied for.

Because HUD states emotional support animals require “reasonable accommodation”, the Housing ESA letter entitles you to qualify for no-pet housing (in apartments with more than 4 units and houses where the landlord owns multiple properties). This means that even if an apartment is listed as not allowing pets, you are legally protected to have one. You also won’t have to pay a pet deposit and can’t be charged a pet fee by the owner.

With the travel letter you will also be able to to fly with your pet in the cabin with no additional fee.

Does the ESA Letter expire? How often do I need to renew?

Your ESA Letter will last for one year. You can then have the opportunity to renew your ESA Letter via CertaPet at a discounted rate.

Can I use this for on-campus housing?

Yes, to use an emotional support animal letter for university housing, during the Assessment you can select the option for Campus Housing Letter.

If you are need of an ESA letter for college, click this link to get started!

Do I need to use a “registration” site to make my pet as an ESA?

NO! The ESA letter signed by a mental health professional is all you need. Registering your pet on a “registry site” is not a legal requirement for ESAs.

Read more about esa registration here.

Do I need Additional Accessories like an Emotional Support Animal vest or ID card?

The letter, signed by a Licensed Mental Health Professional, is the only thing that is legally recognized.

Vests, ID Cards, and tags are accessories that may make it easier to identify your ESA but are not necessary. Still, many of our customers find the accessories very helpful for letting others know you have an ESA.

 

Can I get a letter for more than one ESA?

It is very rare that a therapist would agree to approve more than one ESA. This is mostly due to the fact that it is extremely difficult to justify more than one animal being clinically necessary. Additionally, airline companies and housing authorities seem to push back hard if there is more than one ESA. With that said, therapists are willing to consider a second ESA on a case-by-case basis. If approved for a first ESA, a client then has the ability to request a clinical review for a second animal.

Does it have to be an Emotional Support Dog or can it be an another animal?

There are no legal restrictions over what type of animals can be companion animals but emotional support animals are typically emotional support cats and emotional support dogs. Please note there are airline restrictions on what type of animals you can bring on board.

 

Comments 272

  1. So what makes CertaPet affiliated mental health professionals more qualified than the person’s own mental health professional to issue the letter for an ESA? As a Service Dog partner and dog trainer who travels frequently by air I have one comment. Leave your pets at home and ESA’s are suppose to be in carriers in the airport and on the plane. Please do so. I have already lost one Service Dog to idiots with either a “Fake” Service Dog or ESA. I am now scared to travel because of increase in people feeling entitled to take their pet everywhere with them. Yes, an ESA provides comfort.. So do pets. Leave them at home where they belong! Especially being as when you get to the other end of your trip they do not have public access rights.

  2. How much time can a landlord take to approve the ESA? Mine is telling me it takes about 6 weeks. I have all the relevant documents and the pup is ready to come. Any recommendation is highly appreciated.

  3. You need to specify in your questionnaire whether your symptoms are WITH a pet or without. My answers would have been a lot darker w/o the dog.

  4. Do I need to have the if card and certificate to be able to fly with my esa? Or is the registration number itself all I need ?

    1. You should contact the airline beforehand. Some require additional paperwork to be filled out. At a minimum, you’ll need to provide the recommendation letter signed by your mental health professional that recommended you have an emotional support animal.

  5. I’ve been paying a $25 pet fee for my cat for the past 11 years. Based on my responses, I seem to be a good candidate for ESA and have already placed my order for my letter. I’ve already been offered the renewal of my lease in November and I’m wondering if I’ll have a problem with my letter. I don’t want the office to think that all of a sudden I have a need for an ESA when my cat has always been my emotional support.

  6. For those with ESA’s & a letter from your physician….LIVING WITH SOMEONE WHO’S LEASING OR RENTING…& SAYING THE LANDLORD TOLD YOU THAT THE ANIMAL IS NOT ALLOWED…I DO BELIEVE THE LANDLORD CAN TELL YOU THAT BECAUSE YOUR NAME IS NOT ON THE LEASE! SO LAWFULLY THEY HAVE THAT RIGHT… IF IT IS, THEN THEY CANNOT DENY YOU UNLESS THERE ARE OTHER ISSUES…

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