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 192

  1. Cindy

    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?

  2. Chihuahuas

    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

  3. Erica

    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?

  4. Jayden

    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

  5. Isaiah

    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 🙂

  6. Phyllis

    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.

  7. Will

    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?


    1. Annette

      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.

  8. Vicki wildes

    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?

    1. Brittany

      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.

    2. Annonymous

      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.

  9. Vicki wildes

    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.

  10. Alleah Rich

    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.

  11. Vicki

    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?

  12. Tina

    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.

    1. Teri

      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.

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  14. Alex C

    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)


      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.

  15. Robyn

    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 her with me places, that’s why I ask.

  16. Amanda

    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 until they actually get certified as a “service” animal. I see way too many people with their purse puppies in stores. And they will yip at people with REAL service dogs

    I did some research because I’m going to be self training my dog until I can take classes for certification. I JUST rescued him from the shelter last week and he already reads my body language and knows when I’m having anxiety and either puts his paws on me or if I’m sitting down he jumps on my lap and “forces” me to pet him.

    Dogs are amazing. We don’t deserve them.

    My opinion if you want to take your ESA in stores or other businesses invest in some training so they can perform a task (such as calming a panic attack, stopping you from self harming exc) and especially as important they need to know when they are working outside of the home not to bark at other people or dogs.

  17. Selena

    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? I have not trained her to do these things she just does naturally. I’ve also had her since she was 2 months old.

  18. Tee

    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.

  19. Kay

    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 public bus however a esa is not allowed on the public bus

  20. Lauralie Francis

    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 ? + + +

  21. Rachel Flanagan

    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.

  22. AJ

    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.

  23. AJ Bennett

    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.

  24. Johnny

    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.

  25. Johnny

    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.

  26. Tom

    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?

  27. Annie Buerhahs

    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?

    1. Snotty Service Snake

      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, which your mom may benefit from. 🙂

      Best wishes to you and your mother.

      1. savanna

        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 make things easier when it comes to traveling on planes and dealing with landlords. You show the i.d. card or dog tag and it makes it easier rather than explaining it every time but you should always have your dr. note on hand anywhere you plan to take your animal.

    2. Susan Lince Blais

      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.

  28. W.M.L

    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!!

    1. Snotty Service Snake

      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 is for a glorified pet (I know, I have one) to prevent housing discrimination and enable an ESA pet owner to travel with their pet in the cabin with them. Otherwise the animal is crated and placed beneath the plane.

      If you have an ESA you may have them at your residence and while traveling (planes, trains, and hotels).

      Your ESA is not allowed in other public places (malls, offices, restaurants, grocery shopping). Taking your ESA to these places is a felony offense because your pet is impersonating a service animal.

      If you find the need to have your pet with you at all times please invest in service animal training. Your animal must perform a service or task. Merely being present does not count.

      There are no shortcuts here. Taking your untrained ESA to places that are off-limits (no matter how many people are afraid to approach you) makes you nothing more than a lawbreaker.

      1. Teri

        @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.

  29. W.M.L

    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!!

    1. Snotty Service Snake

      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 reason you have not been confronted for taking your ESA in public is because you present as an unhinged weirdo. You come on to a platform, giving bad advice, and (via keyboard) scream at people who disagree.

      You likely need the ESA and lots of therapy. Maybe stay home a while, turn off the computer, and try meditating. You seem to be coming unglued.

    2. jade

      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

  30. Caitlin Delgado

    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

    1. Snotty Service Snake

      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. Or Shep, the SERVICE DOG, is trained to help her sit down while she takes a few moments to breathe. This is but one way that a SERVICE ANIMAL can help with mental issues.

      Bad example: Peggy has PTSD and feels better having her dog with her. The dog is not trained to do anything, but just having the dog there makes Peggy feel better. This is an ESA and the dog must stay home when Peggy leaves the house.

      Please know the difference INVEST in your animal’s training.

      Don’t ruin it for society who has to put up with your PET in our public spaces. What you do at home is your business. Leave it there. Unless you train your dog to perform a service.

  31. Jordyn Peterson

    Can you change your support animal? or do you have to fill out a whole new application and go through everything again?

  32. Andrea Dehart

    That is not legal. Unless your friend came over after 10pm at night. Check your city’s noise ordinances for their hours. However, if your friend came over at 2pm, your manager is discriminating against you and your ESA. You could sue him for this!

  33. NP

    I understand that it can be frustrating to have a service dog with you and having other people with dogs that aren’t trained but at the same time you have to look at it from another persons view. ESAs are not just there to be there, they can provide as much support as a service dog for the owner and are more than just friends. They are there to prevent panic attacks, depressive outbursts, etc. Just because they aren’t trained to stop something when it’s happening doesn’t mean they can’t and won’t prevent it. Certified service dogs are not the only pets that can help and if someone qualifies for an ESA they should be able to walk their dogs next to service dogs. I’m not trying to argue I just feel the need to state my opinion coming from someone who truly needs their ESA

    1. Snotty Service Snake

      That is where you are incorrect. An ESA IS there just to be there.

      Only an animal trained to perform a service can be a service dog. A service dog is NOT A PET. It is there to make up for a deficiency due to a disability (e.g. it is the eyes for the blind, ears for the deaf, arms and legs for the quadriplegic). That’s not to say that a person with a mental illness (not just physical ones) cannot benefit from a service dog. **If the dog performs a task or tasks, then it is a service animal.** An animal that performs a service for a person having panic attacks, PTSD episodes, or behavioral issues due to Autism is a service animal. For example the animal can be TRAINED to help the person get away from a crowd, sit down if they are having an outburst, or perform a physical task for a person with a disability.

      If the animal just being there provides comfort, then it’s just an ESA. Having symptoms and seeing your faithful dog or cat Fluffy and then feeling better is not a service animal. It’s an ESA. I have one. I work with service animal trainers. Know the difference. Your pet is not on par with a service animal.

      When you know better you do better.

  34. Mickey

    I understand your frustration, but please do not assume that someone with an esa has them just for “companionship”. As a person with two esas, I can tell you it is much more complex than that. Some of our issues can also be debilitating, and you would do well to remember that.
    However, I do agree that they should not be allowed to interfere with your service animal. Before my animals were certified I did the research and do not take my animals into public places other than what is allowed by law.

    1. Snotty Service Snake

      Thank you!
      As someone with PTSD I also have an ESA. He does not go everywhere with me, though sometimes I wish he did; I hate crowds and at times I get overstimulated and “shut down”. While the issues that push us to certify our pets as ESAs are complex, the law is the law: Trained service animals go everywhere, ESAs help at home. Period.

      The trainer I am working with now (we are working on a Therapy Dog cert) is suggesting I get him trained as a service dog for those times when the light and sound causes my brain to short circuit. Because I have too much integrity to slap a service vest on him and take him out, I am waiting for a spot in the service dog training program. In the mean time I only go to places that will trigger me when I have a human to support me through it. It’s the only responsible way to manage it for now

  35. Connor

    I’ve got a question for you guys. My girlfriend and her emotional support dog moved in with me to the apartment that I am leasing. They do not allow dogs but have made the exception for her ESA because they aren’t allowed to say no. So one day, a friend comes over and our dog barked when he came through the door (like almost all dogs do). Our dog is normally very quiet and this is the only time she barks. So, management heard the dog the one time and wrote a noise complaint against us. Now, because of that noise complaint, they are not offering us a chance to resign the lease and stay for another year. Does anyone know if this is legal?

  36. Lisa

    I take my emotional support dog EVERYWHERE I go. If I go to the bank..she goes to the bank. If I go to wal mart she goes…if I go to culvers or wherever…it depends on your individual situation, needs, and requirements for you. Everybodies situations are all different.

    1. Aria

      Do you mean service animal? An emotional support animal is not legally allowed anywhere but into no pet housing and airlines. If the dog just being there is all it does, meaning no training to assist during a panic attack or stop certain hand movements that may cause issues by touching or restraining you then the animal is NOT a service dog. Therefore NOT ALLOWED to go into public areas. I have issues with people in stores with their dog marked ESA then causing an issue with my SERVICE dog. When I ask them to please leave they pop out some fake little card. There is NO card for a service animal unless the dog is trained by a company. My dog is self trained but will assist me in ways other than companionship. If it is not a service animal please. I beg you, please. Leave the dog at home. Especially if it’s going to not assist you other than just being next to you. It makes it harder on actual service dogs and handlers then gives us a bad rap for our actually trained dogs.

      1. Snotty Service Snake

        I have an ESA and what you described is my biggest headache. It’s obvious when the animals are not trained service animals. I would love to take my ESA everywhere, but my personal integrity won’t allow it.

        Some people think a vest is a shortcut to dealing with their issues. It’s bullcrap.

        I have invested a lot of money and time into my dog (though he is an ESA), but I would never try to be a lazy jerk and break the law so I could feel better.

        I do wish there was some federal crack down on this issue. We DO need regulation to protect those with disabilities and trained service animals and to prosecute those who don’t want to shell out the money to properly train their animals.

      2. Alex

        I completely agree with you. I have an emotional support animal and i find it reprehensible when people bring their companion dog to the store or bank and try to argue with me about the laws.

        If you got your ESA card online, its fake and a scam, and makes it harder for ME someone with severe ptsd and depression, to get my properly certified ESA into apartments when I move.

        It is a slap in the face to those who need a dog to physically make it around or perform a tast to warn them of an event in their health. This is unfair to them and people need to stop doing this.

        Everyone’s just jumped on this bandwagon of ” oh go to http://www.companionanimals.org (not a real sight to my knowledge) and got a false certificate and even go as far as getting identification and vests for their dog… its a scam and a lie and you can be fined for it.

        1. Niko

          Hello, I see everyone is frustrated about these fake sites. I am looking into ESA for my depression and PTSD. I do not have an animal and will not get one unless I know my animal is protected and myself. I want to find a reliable site or advice on how I can get a real ESA letter. I used to go to therapy but moved for school and stop going. Moving and starting somewhere new has been very stressful and someone told me about getting an ESA. I am conducting research on this, but any real advice will be great!

        2. Tabetha

          We got my sons dog registered with the AKC as a service dog. His dog came from the service dog training company. And what we have been informed of is . if you have a registered service dog and a business kicks you out. you will have the proof when it comes to court that the dog is registered service dog. now with a ESA dog that is not registered as a service animal and does not have the same rights as a service dog, a public business can kick you out with out having to worry about a lawsuit because the dog or animal is not registered as a service animal . This information you can find if you read up on the ADA.

  37. Kayla

    Have anyone flown with Alaska airlines with a certapet letter? Just nervous about the letter having all the qualifications they ask for

    1. Jenny

      Yes, I flew from LA to Boise, and back again. Didn’t have an ESA but paid the $100.00 each way. On the way to Boise, the stewardess was great. Sat in the back of the plane, and she told me I could bring my dog onto my lap, if I wanted. On the way back to LA, the stewardess was a bitch. Made sure our dog kept her whole head in the carrier, zipped up, and made her sit. Was miserable. She kept coming by to make sure she was fully in the container and under the seat. Alaska airlines was terrible. Don’t know if having a ESA certificate would have helped.

  38. Antoinette

    I need a letter my pet is certified with two agencies and my doctor approved the emotional dog. I am currently out of work, I can not afford your fee and I need this letter because of my apartment complex is denying my dog. Please help me out

  39. Cheryl Trevethan

    I was devastated after my husband’s early death. 13 days from onset to death! I underwent therapy but the thing that helped me the most was a neighbor who gave me a puppy. This puppy became my lifesaver and I had him registered as an emotional therapy pet. I travel with him, take him to restaurants etc. Time moves forward and I have a new husband, but I still need my dog, in fact, today is the 4th anniversary of Art’s death. My little one holds lots of secrets, tears and joys; I cannot imagine being without him.

  40. Donna

    Isn’t it illegal for a licensed professional that’s treating you for an illness to charge for a letter.? One doesn’t from mail from someone not treating you is fraudulent.

    1. Snotty Service Snake

      As a social worker and someone with disabilities, it is perfectly legal for a doctor to charge you for a letter. Their fees may feel like robbery, sometimes, but it’s still legal. The rationale behind this is they are using their time to legally document your illness in accordance with the law. It may be worth it to ask if you can get a break on the fees. But, legally, there is now way out of it.

      Best wishes.

  41. Will

    It honestly sounds like what you need ro help mittigate your symptoms is going to be a psychiatric service animal, not an esa.

    The process to obtain your ‘perscription’ as it were is the same; speaking to a mental health professional and aquiring a letter.

    But the law states that the dog or minature horse must be poliet (its considered vital by most sd handlers that your dog pass a public access test) followed by ‘task training’.

    Thats the big difference between an esa and a service animal. An esa is a pet that provides comfort by simply being there while a service animal performs tasks to mittigate the symptoms.

    My service animal performs blocking and alert tasks to my anxiety and ptsd. It might be a good idea to look into a list of public access test requirments and psychiatric service dog tasks to help you start on the path of getting a fully fledged service animal.

      1. Aria

        I self trained. My service animal is able to do a take down right as a panic attack starts helping me get to the ground so I dont pass out. She also will touch me or paw at me to let me know when my hands are shaking or if Im going to have a seizure. To train her with the panic attack take down I just let her jump on my as I mimicked a panic attack and used an up command. Now she does this fully on her own. This company is not legit though. If they sell certification then its not a real company. You’re only choices are self training or going to a trainer in your area.

  42. Morgan Turner

    I have seen emotional support dogs in stores but what I have been reading they are not allowed in stores. If I were to have my dog certified it would be so I could take them into stores, and non-eating establishments as I have social anxiety, clinical depression and PTSD. Being able to have my dog with me in a store where I could run into people who make me nervous would be helpful, but I worry that my dog will get taken away if I do take them and it’s not allowed. What is the point of only being able to have them in a home or plane for those of us who need them outside in public?

    1. Maggy

      It’s not that you aren’t allowed to go into a place at all. The dog is simply not protected under federal law to have a right to be in an establishment, unlike an assistance animal. With the proper documentation, most people will allow you to stay as long your dog is well behaved and house broken. But if the dog is misbehaving, the establishment has a right to ask you to leave, but they can not take your dog away or take away its status as an emotional support animal. So you technically are allowed to bring the dog anywhere (besides where it compromises a sterile environment), but that allowance depends on the establishment which has a right to ask you to remove the dog since it is not a service animal. There are many programs like Canine Companions for Independence who are doing studies and providing PTSD dogs. You should look into one of those organizations to see if you qualify!

    2. Donna

      My ESA goes every where with me. A Service Dog can go anywhere unquestioned. A ESA can go anywhere with permission. I carry my dog in a cross body pouch with a medical ESA badge on it. She also has the ESA red jacket. I asked the dentist and they allow her to sit in the chair with me. Of course she goes to the doctor with me. I asked at church and they allow it and so do our grocery stores. So far even Restaurants have even allowed her in.
      I will say that my dog has had a lot of training. She is an 8 pound Brussesl Griffin and I carry all her paperwork in a leather folder in my purse. Her letter from the trainer (ESA training) says her manners are impecable. If you need an emotional support animal than you need it wi
      th you all the time with you. So the training is really worth it.

      1. Kate Collins

        Then what you have is a service animal. People who are taking ESAs places make things much more difficult for people with Service Animals. Service Animals have Public Access rights, ESAs do NOT. By pulling out ‘identification’ and ‘documentation’ because you want to have an ESA in public with you, you make that so that people with invisible disabilities with highly trained dogs are interrogated and refused access.

        Also important to note- claiming a dog is a Service Dog when they are not is a misdemeanor in many states, so you could in fact be breaking the law if the establishment asks if it is a service dog and you say yes.

    3. Donna

      Morgan, to take it every where you would have to get permission from the establishment first. . You would have to train it so that it would be very mannerly. Be sure you have your doctors letter on you. With that letter you can certify or not. Don’t put it in the grocery cart. If it is small get a cross body pouch to carry it in. When you go into the store (grocery) get permission first. Some Department stores are dog friendly and you can take your dog in without permission. Macy’s is one that comes to mind. My ESA goes everywhere with me. She is with me 24/7. ( even dentist, doctors and restraunts and church) She is trained and I carry all her paperwork with me ( doctors letter, certification, shot records and letter from a Certified dog trainer that says she has been through what she calls the full ESA training course and that her manners are impeciable) and I have the ESA medical badge on her pouch. When out of the pouch she wears a red Certified ESA jacket. The training was well worth it

  43. Maddison

    If my ESA is less than four months old, lives in Los Angeles, (therefore not licensed yet), can my apartment turn my esa away? Also, in LA, is my esa required to be spayed at 4 months?

    1. Jeanne bassett

      Although sometimes I feel suicidal I would never take my own life but that’s where I need my dog to help me keep it together for me to care for someone and have him with me at all times to help me Go forward

    2. Buffy Convert

      I don’t know what the law says about it, but I have frequently seen small dogs (one at a time) at Wal-Marts. I didn’t see or hear anyone complaining. I don’t complain because the human keeps the dog with him/her. Unlike some parents who leave their children in the toy department or let them lean into the fresh food areas or punch holes in various products.

  44. Maddison

    If I put TBD on my housing letter and updated it with my pet’s information, how long will it take to update my physical letter? Also, will I be mailed a physical copy now that I updated the pet information? Also, how long will it take to approve my letter for my pet ID?

  45. Henry

    My girlfriend lives in a condo that does not allow pets, I usually visit and stay several days at a time with 2 of my very well trained dogs. In this case would it better for her to get an ESA Certification or just me or both of us?

    1. Maggy

      NO! It is not okay to get your pets certified just to enjoy the housing perks. Even if your dogs are well trained, many people have the same idea that you do but their pets are NOT well trained. When they take these unruly animals into public, it gives a negative stigma to legitimate ESAs and assistance dogs. Even though it is against the law to deny assistance animals, it still happens, and the humiliation and embarrassment a person with a disability faces when they are publicly asked to leave cannot be rectified with a court case and a fine for the establishment that turned them away. You should never certify your pets solely for the purpose of free pet air fares and housing. I understand it seems harmless because you wouldn’t be taking your dogs into public, but to do that you would have to go through an online registry that simply has you pay a fee to skip the psychiatric evaluation, and by using their services, you are only giving them more money and make it easier for people to exploit this very accessible, but psychiatric need based, option.

  46. Nancy


    I was wondering did you have any specific training for your dog so he was well behaved in public? Did you teach him certain commands to keep him by your side?

  47. Rebecca Stevens

    I am a certified disabled person. My therapist did write a letter for me. I have 2 dogs; I’ve had 1 for 10 years & the other is her son who is 8 years old. They are all I have to hold onto. This last year & a half I moved to another state next door to my sister. She was supposed to help me get “back on my feet” financially & help me to gain some emotional stability in order to function w/ day to day basic challenges w/ the help of a psychiatrist & counselor. Anyway, the opposite occured. She stole money from me, tried to use my credit card several times, told people I was an awful person, a bad mother, daughter, sister , & friend & most importantly I was crazy & I was using her. And many people believed her, because I had become so depressed, anxious, sometimes having suicidal thoughts, I’d become a recluse & afraid to leave the house or be around people. After a few weeks in a mental facility I became a renewed person; ready to move forward positively to a new life. It all fell apart after she began & continued w/ emotional, financial abuse & even tried to give me wrong medication on purpose. It was not until she had taken 90% of what I owned, yelling at me in the middle of the street, on the phone, & texting me that I was worthless & should go ahead & kill myself, she wanted to rip my _______, _____ head off, & tell the police & local sheriff department lies about me & how I had stolen from her, someone finally believed me & said I could stay in one of their bedrooms for a couple months & save;some money to move back to my home state. She said she’d take a lie detector test because she knew how to beat it. My life became a living nightmare, a LIFETIME MOVIE OF THE WEEK, if you will. Anyway, now I’m broke, w/ bad credit due to medical bills, & I’m trying to find someplace to live & dole money out to keep my 15 year old car still drivable, I eed glasses, oral surgery, I’ve list some bone & find koney from somewhere to et ome dentures. Sometimes i winder ehy bother, its just becoming too much. MY dogs are the only love I receive & it would tear me apart to have to get rid of one, which one would I choose. SO, I’m sorry for the short story, please tell me I can keep both dogs as ESA’s.

    1. Janine Kosek

      I’m sorry for what you are going through — it sounds like you need immediate help beyond ESAs. There are numbers to call to report people abusing/exploiting disabled and elders. In FL the number is 1-800-ABUSE. Please call! and also call your local services for assistance. Hope things will go better for you soon, Janine

  48. Shearbeautygrl

    I take my ESA with me everywhere. She has a vest I put on her so they recognize her as such. The only time/place she doesn’t go is restaurants & doctors office, otherwise she’s with me at all times.

    1. Donna

      My ESA does go to the doctors with me, church, dentists, shopping and most restraunts. She is with me 24/7. She may go with permission, which I get. She has her Red ESA jacket and I carry her in a cross body pouch. I carry all her paperwork with me. Doctors letter, Certification, shot records, and letter from a Certified dog trainer that she has completed w
      hat she calls a full ESA training course. The letter mentions that her manners are impecable.

      1. Kate Collins

        They do not make vests for ESAs! If you are putting your dog in a vest to imply that the dog has public access rights and to avoid being questions you are committing fraud and could be fined and charged with a misdemeanor in some states! If the establishment DOES ask you if it is a service dog and you say yes, same thing. If they ask and you say “No, it’s an ESA” and they are letting you stay in places that don’t allow dogs, that doesn’t mean you have the right to be there, it means they don’t know the laws and they are afraid of being sued. I would be terrified of being caught and getting sued for faking.

    1. Amy

      My son and his therapist have submitted paper work to get one, he is in college too. Did your daughters college have any issue with it?

  49. Julia wright

    I know personally through a manager of wal mart that they cannot ask u of ure dog is a support dog or ask u for a letter.. just to let u know so if u need ure four legged baby with u in there u can take it in there.

  50. Katelynn

    Just letting the people know in the comments ESA are not covered under the ADA meaning they are NOT allowed in public. They are only allowed on planes and housing that’s it. They can’t be taken to school with you they can’t go to Walmart with you etc

    1. Donna

      Katelynn, A trained ESA can go any where with you “with permission”. I have permission from all the places I go so mine is with me 24/7. Doctors, Dentists, Church, shopping and even most Restaurants. If I need an emotional support I need her all the time so I took the time to get her trained and then made sure I had permission. The training was just to make sure she would get her permission to enter.

  51. Bella

    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

  52. Justin

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

    1. Donna

      A doctor’s note (mental or emotional disability) that says you need the dog to be with you. You don’t have to certify it to fly. Just the letter.

  53. 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.

    1. AJ

      I work at a hotel. We allow ESAs without the pet fee but even with service dogs we try to put them in our pet designated rooms to protect those with allergies. If it is a service dog, I will put them in a pet room if possible but if none are available, I will put them in another room.

  54. 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

    1. Lindsey

      An ESA does not have to be potty trained. It does not have to be “basic obedience trained.” The only thing is a letter from your doctor stating that an ESA will be beneficial to you for whatever your reasons may be. (I have an ESA because my doctor felt one would help with my anxiety, depression, and PTSD.)

  55. 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

  56. 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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    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

  57. 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. Lindsey

      You don’t need to “register” an ESA. There is no ESA registry. In my case, I saw my doctor, got my letter, submitted it to the landlord, waited for approval from the landlord, and then I adopted my dog.

    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.

  58. 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.

    1. Donna

      The letter comes from a licensed therypist or a phsychiatrist stating that there is a mental disability or emotional one.

  59. 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?

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    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.

  60. 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?

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  61. Luisa

    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,


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  62. 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?

  63. Angeline


    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

      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.

  64. 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

      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

  65. Murphy


    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.


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  66. Erika


    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.

  67. 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?

  68. 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

      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.

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  69. 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

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

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  70. 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?

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    1. Post

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

  71. 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

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  72. 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!

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  73. 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.


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  74. 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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