Emotional support dog - therapy dog - ESA dog - emotional support animal

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.

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.

Comments 79

  1. Bella

    Hi,
    Is there an airline that always takes your letters? For example, what if I am denied to get on a plane with my dog?
    Thank you

  2. Justin

    I’m thinking about buying this letter, would Certapet also complete the verification form for the pet to fly with United Airlines?

  3. Richard gosetti

    We have two dogs and 2 people. What would be necessary for us to keep them in a mobile home Park that does not accept pets . We own the land and mobile.

  4. Sc

    An Esa must be potty trained and basic obedience trained to not only b an esa but live in housing the otherwise doesn’t accept pets

  5. Jean

    my sister has a ESA psychiatrist prescribed her to have one in May so she chose a 4 month old pup this month on the 8th two days after we turned in a reasonable accommodation and a second letter the inspector for the unit and dog warden come and take him he is at the APL and I am fighting for him back today to bring him back to her… was I in the right or wrong and were they wrong to remove him even after the papers

  6. Kayla

    I feel like you should be able to go to your mental healthcare provider and talk to them about the possibility of a dog helping you out with their problem…. Then they should be able to get you a letter at least stating your need for the dog, then once you adopt the dog they should be technically already your ESA since you already have the letter. Idk, I haven’t actually gone through any processes yet but if I were you, I would start with my mental care provider and see what they say about your condition and how a dog mixes in…

    1. Jaime

      Can I fly with 2 emotional support animals? What I mean is, can one person bring on both of their dogs as ESAs? Or is it one per person?

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      Author
    2. Shannon

      I had my primary care write me one as she is one the one cares for my disabilities. And she diagnosed me with my disability and prescribes my anxiety meds

  7. Breanne

    I am considering getting a dog and registering him/her as an ESA since I struggle with anxiety.
    However, my apartment complex does not allow dogs, so I want to have the certification letter before I even adopt a dog. Is it possible to receive the letter before I get a dog? Or do I have to register the dog with the letter?

    1. Min S. Lee

      You would be responsible for sourcing the pet itself. That being said, there are many places where you can adopt an animal for very cheap (if not free).

    2. minlee

      Unfortunately, you would have to source the animal yourself Sonya. As indicated earlier, there are several ways that you may be able to obtain an animal through the humane society or adoption for much less than what it would cost you otherwise. That being said, please also consider the costs of owning an animal in your case.

  8. Julia

    I am seriously considering getting a dog and registering him/her as an ESA. My building does not allow dogs, so I want to have the certification letter before I even adopt the dog. Is it possible to receive that before I have my pup?

    1. minlee

      Julia, the letter can be obtained before you actually find a dog. That being said, ESAs do not require registration. The letter itself is what you would need. The licensed therapist that we would assign to your case would be the one that would provide this.

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      2. Amber

        Actually, Keri you can have an ESA in a college dorm, but it depends on the college. Some are more strict than others and depending on that, it may have to be a service animal instead of an ESA.

  9. morgan t

    Hi I registered my dog as an ESA dog and put his weight in wrong. If there anyway to have this updated on my letter so that all of his information is correct?

    1. Post
      Author
      certapet

      Morgan,
      Email customer support at [email protected]

    1. Post
      Author
    2. Tayler

      I know it takes two days to recieve the digital copy, but how long does it take to receive the paper copy? I need it asap to show to my apartment manager to avoid eviction.

  10. Sue Hanson

    How soon can I get ESA certification? I need to travel Sunday night and American Airlines wants a 48 hour notification with a letter faxed to them. Is there any way that I can do this on short notice?

    1. Post
      Author
      certapet

      Sue,
      Contact our team at [email protected] or call at (877) 207-0561 we can connect your with a Therapist.

    1. Post
      Author
  11. Luisa

    Hi,
    I am experiencing homesickness and feeling depressed. I have a dog, who helps me a lot and I would like to check the possibility of getting an ESA letter, mainly for him to fly with me when I need to visit my family.

    I checked with the airline company and they might call the doctor´s office to validate the letter. Is it ok if the airline company calls you?? Are you used to this validation procedure?

    Thank you,

    Luisa.

    1. Post
      Author
      certapet

      Luisa,
      All The Licensed Mental Health Professionals will be available to validate your letter for the airlines or housing authorities. Email us at [email protected] if you have any more questions.

    1. Post
      Author
  12. Bailey

    Hi there,

    What does the housing letter consultation include? And is there another fee after that to receive my letter or is that just a one time fee?

  13. Angeline

    Hello,

    I wanted to change my payment option. I see that it costs $20 to make some changes on your ESA letter and I don’t mind it, but I want to use a different card. Thank you.

    1. Post
      Author
      certapet

      It depends, The ADA American Disabilities Act only applies to Service Animals not ESAs. ESAs are covered by the Fair Housing Act and Air Carrier Access Act.

      However, state law can vary and each institution (stores/school) may have different laws regarding Emotional Support Dogs.

  14. Sophia

    Okay I suffer from anxiety and I am considering an emotional support animal but I was wondering could I have my animal go through training as a service dog would for my sake so it would cause me less stress? Or are we not allowed to send an ESA through training at all?

    1. Post
      Author
      certapet

      Service Animals require rigorous training while Emotional Support Animals do not. If you require a Service Animal you can connect with one of the many Service Animal training centers around the country.

      1. Sophia

        Another question, I keep seeing questions that say you would get a vest. Do you get a vest with your letter? Cause reading those has made me confused I thought you just got a letter

  15. Murphy

    Hello,

    Do your mental health professionals provide signatures for additional documentation that is required by airlines. For example, American Airlines requires an additional document for ESA animals to fly on their aircrafts. I have included a link to their site which contains an additional document.

    Thanks!

    1. Post
      Author
  16. Erika

    HI!

    Has this service worked for everyone? I am afraid I wont get the letter after being assessed. I am a college student far from home and having a companion during school stress and being away from my comfort zone would really help a lot, but that isn’t exactly a medical illness is it? This is what I am afraid of I already have a precious little girl and don’t want to have to find her a new home because of our dorm rules.

  17. Seiarrah Johnson

    I got approved 2 days ago and recieved my digital copy. How long does it take for you to receive the physical copy in the mail?

  18. Taylor

    I can’t seem to find the chat feature. I’m trying to find out if there is any way to get a same-day cert. I’m leaving town for the holiday weekend tomorrow and have a dog sitter coming, but was just notified today that my neighbor (whom is crazy lunatic that hates dogs) has contacted my property manager and notified her that I have a dog– and my property manager has asked the dog be removed from the premises within 3 days.

    1. Post
      Author
      certapet

      Hi Taylor!

      Give us a call at (877) 207-0561 and we can connect you with a Licensed Mental Health Professional today. I will let Customer Service know you are going to call.

        1. Post
          Author
    1. Post
      Author
      certapet

      Jenna,
      We represent Therapists from all over the country so no, you do not have to be a California Resident.

      Shoot us an email at [email protected] or call us at (877) 207-0561 if you have any more questions 🙂

  19. Stephanie

    I have a psychiatrist that believes I would benefit from an ESA. However she is unclear on how to proceed from there. Such as the requirements for a letter, etc. Can you give me some information that will make those more clear?

    1. Post
      Author
      certapet

      Stephanie,
      Your psychiatrist would just write you a recommendation letter for an Emotional Support Animal and you would be good to go :-). Hope that helps!

    1. Post
      Author
      certapet

      Ashlyn,
      If you have a doctor that is a Licensed Mental Health Professional, then YES! If not, we can connect you with one via the CertaPet network.

      If you have any other questions about Emotional Support Animal Letters or how the whole process works, shoot us an email at [email protected]

  20. Keith bergstein

    Is a vest and I’d card included in the cost? This is Saturday I need this done by Saturday of next week. I’m flying next Sunday, can you get me 2 vest and letters before next Sunday?

    1. Post
      Author
      certapet

      Keith,
      Our turnaround time for consultations is typically less than 48 hours. I recommend you give us a call or email us at [email protected] if you need more details on the process.

    1. Post
      Author
      certapet

      Kayla,
      Our technology platform will connect you with a Therapists instantly and the typical turn around time for the consultation is under 24 hours.

  21. Deborah

    Need explanation of what to get asap see counselor on. Wed. Need to turn into apt soon for my service Cat. ! Thanks. Oh don’t have 200.00 to spend on a form to fill out or a letter to wait on for a year ? I am on A S S D I that means I am poor , And this will help
    Me many ways to keep my life saver Cat !:). D L

    1. Post
      Author
      certapet

      Email us at [email protected] and we can answer all of your questions.

  22. Denise

    Hi there,
    I am in need of an ESA letter for my apartment complex. The office tells me that if I give them the letter they will send it off to corporate and then corporate makes the final approval as to whether or not I can have an ESA living in my apartment. What happens if I purchase your service and then the corporate office says well no we won’t accept this letter? Thank you!

    1. Post
      Author
      certapet

      Denise,
      Shoot our customer service team an email at [email protected]. We have compiled tons of resources to help you better understand your rights. 🙂

  23. evan

    Hello there.

    My name is Evan Beck and I used your service for a housing esa letter back in January. (you were kind enough to provide me with a 10% off coupon at that time). I now have a need for an esa letter so that I may fly with my pet. I dealt with Julie Martinez before and I emailed her regarding my request but did not hear back.
    I was happy with certapet and the service I received but am very price sensitive due to some financial challenges I have lately. I found a competing service that can provide me with an esa airline compliant letter for 99 dollars. I know that you provide this service but charge more than this. I was hoping you could beat this price and I can use certapet for my airline letter. Kindly let me know if you would be able to do so.

    I appreciate your consideration and can hopefully continue to use your service.

    Regards,
    Evan

    1. Post
      Author
      certapet

      Evan,
      Please email us at [email protected] or give us a call at (877) 207-0561 so that we can help you out 🙂 Julie is the VP of Customer Experience so she will make sure that everything goes smoothly.

  24. Margaret E Morgan

    How much do you charge?

    Also I have two pets, two cats, that I want to travel with me. Can you issue one letter with both animals mentioned?

    How long is the letter good for?

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