how to get a companion dog

How to Get an Emotional Support Animal

How to Get an Emotional Support Dog

Emotional Support dog

Are you wondering how to get an Emotional Support Dog or other ESA?

Well, if you’re one of the estimated 61.5 million Americans (one-in-four) who will suffer from a mental or emotional disability this year, AND you have an animal that helps alleviate your symptoms…

You may already have one.

In case you didn’t know, an Emotional Support Animal is a pet that helps alleviate symptoms of a mental or emotional disability through companionship and affection.

Unlike most types of assistance animals, such as service dogs, ESAs are not required to have any kind of specialized training or experience.

Here’s what the Department of Housing and Urban Development has to say:

“The Department’s position has been that animals necessary as a reasonable accommodation do not necessarily need to have specialized training. Some animals perform tasks that require training, and others provide assistance that does not require training.”

Moreover, Emotional Support Animal certification isn’t limited to just companion dogs.

People have used emotional support cats, pigs and even miniature horses as Emotional Support Animals.

See If You Qualify for an Emotional Support Animal

Emotional Support Cat Laying Down

Emotional Support Animal Certification

In order to enjoy the benefits of having an ESA, all you need is an official letter written by a licensed mental health professional, such as a Psychiatrist, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, or Psychologist.

So long as you pass our screening, based on questions from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), you can get a prescription for an Emotional Support Animal.

Unlike most other places you can get an ESA letter online, ours meets all requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, other emotional support animal laws and is 100% HIPAA compliant.

An ESA Letter from CertaPet provides:

  • Recognition that you are a patient under a licensed mental health professional’s care for a mental or emotional disability.
  • Verification that you are significantly limited by a disability, such as depression or a similar condition, affecting your mental well-being.
  • Prescription for an emotional support dog (also known as a companion dog), or other support animal, as a necessary reinforcement for your mental health.

To get your ESA Letter online, all you need to do is take a free 5-minute screening which will determine your eligibility.

The brief questionnaire is completely confidential and only takes a few minutes to complete.

Find out if you qualify by clicking below:

See If You Qualify for an Emotional Support Animal

Comments 75

  1. Chris

    I love that you can register the animal of your choice as an Emotional Support Animal. For people like me who bond with a particular breed, it is essential that I be allowed to have my Malamute. My first Malamute saved my life as a teenager. I shut down in the worst way and he pulled me threw it. Now I bond with Malamutes in a way that is far more productive for me then any other breed would provide for me.

    However! My roommate is a completely different story. He has never had a dog of his own and is timid by nature. Because you can register any breed, he got himself a German Shepherd because he thought they looked cool. Problem now is, the dog ignores him. He is not getting the emotional support he needs. The dog’s lack of attention is causing more damage then good.

    I have been looking for a service that trains and can pair a support animal to an owner. Some place that can ask questions and find out what breed will be best for his lifestyle and what he expects to get out of the animal. I would greatly appreciate some incite. “Whatever dog you feel is best for you” is just not going to cut it as an answer. He needs someone who knows the dogs and can help him pick the right dog.

  2. Diana

    Hi, my therapist thinks it’s a good idea to make my dog an emotional support dog. Exactly how do I go about making him one. Do I need to register at a specific place. I live in NYC. Does it cost anything to make him one? I have looked at other sites and have seen them trying to charge at least $80+. Thank you

  3. Anita Urban

    If i qualify your questions,how do i get the letter? I would like to get a maltese for to help me. Im not doing good since my little Tanner passed away 5 months ago. My best friend passed 2weeks after him,then my aunt. Thanksgiving i lost my long time boyfriend. I cant function. Wirhout Tanner I rock. Please i need a companion maltese from where? Shelter? Thank you.

  4. Ally

    Brief background: I am no longer seeing a psychiatrist, don’t believe/trust in medication much as I was over medicated as a child to point where my blood levels were toxic every time I got blood work, but have been diagnosed with many things such as ptsd, major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, seizures, and a few other things as well. Still have bad down periods and I had animals growing up and looking back I can see how they helped me with dealing in my home life. I just happened upon an article about emotional support dogs and thought it might help me. Also took the test and it told me i would be a good candidate.

    Here are the questions:
    Will it not be possible to get a support dog if i don’t regularly go to a psychiatrist?
    Do i have to have a recommendation and be a good candidate on the test?

  5. Amber

    Any animal is aloud to be an ESA I’m not sure about the landlord but my cousin has a German shepherd ESA So that is no problem as long as he/she is not aggressive with people or other animals it will be just fine

  6. Rebecca

    Hello, my name is Rebecca and my daughter Isabella is depressed with anxiety. She needs companionship, so she needs a dog, however our landlord is adament about no dog. If I purchased a license for an emotional support animal, would she be able to have a dog?

    1. Brie

      The Fair Housing Act (FHA) disallows anyone with an ESA to be rejected housing due to the animal, as long as you have the proper documentation showing that it is in fact an ESA. It is also illegal for landlords to charge an advance deposit for the animal, but if there is significant damage done to the property because of the animal they are allowed to fine you for repairs needed.

      Here’s more about ESA laws: https://www.certapet.com/emotional-support-animal-laws/

      I wish you and your daughter luck; as someone with severe anxiety and depression, I understand her struggle.

    2. LLARRY

      Yes she will the dog is not considered a pet it is a work animal . Search around on lone for FHA (Fair Housing Association) Laws . Her Landlord also CAN NOT charge her a “pet” deposit for it or raise her rent or kick her out for it . AS long as she has the letter confirming by a doctor she NEEDS an ESA.

  7. Basha

    Hello, would German Shepherd be allowed as a ESA?
    Also, I need to move back in to my condo that I owe but we can’t have dogs. Are rules the same

    1. Brie

      I believe any animal can be certified as an ESA, and according to the Fair Housing Act (FHA) you cannot be denied housing because of an ESA. Even if a place of residence does not permit dogs (or other animals) you cannot legally be denied housing there. Landlords are also not legally permitted to charge an advance deposit for any ESA, but if there is significant damage done to the property by the animal they are allowed to charge a fine for repairs needed.

      Here’s more information about ESA laws: https://www.certapet.com/emotional-support-animal-laws/

  8. Roxy Stuart

    I need info. As to where to get an emotional service dog. A dog that is trained for this purpose.
    My nephew has asbergers, he is high functioning but cant cope with depression anxiety – if you can text me some agencys names and #’s that would be a great start. Thanks

  9. Cecil Ball

    Hey
    My name is Cecil Ball. I’m looking for an emotional support Bird. Preferably an Timitan or African grey or an Amazon Blue Front. But at least something that I can train or keep training to talk. We had an Amazon when I was younger and I learned I guess my fair share of working with the birds. I can trim their wings and toe nails. I’m on a fixed income so I need smaller payments or lower price. The Amazon Blue Front we had was a rescue from a local person. She was named Baby and she was pulling her feathers out. My mom became allergic to the dust on their feathers they clean themselves in. so she got rid of all our birds. Ihat’s been several (over 20 years) years ago. Now she misses her bird she said she would take the shots or medicine till she would be ok.
    I’m looking for something to talk or I can train to talk and can eventually carry on a few conversations with in time. I’ll take what I can get rescue bird partially trained just whatever. I’d like it as an emotional support animal that I can take places with me to help me when I get stressed. I do have a doctor’s excuse. If you cannot help maybe you can steer me in the right direction. All help would be appreciated.

    Thank you
    Cecil Ball

  10. Hannah

    I live in a college dorm and am diagnosed OCD. I was thinking that if I could adopt a kitten or even an older cat it would help me a lot (as my dog and cat back home help more than you can imagine). In order to get an ESA letter, do I need to have the pet first? I ask because I can’t bring my cat from home here as she is too old and would not understand but if I had a letter could I then adopt one? (The dorm won’t let me have it unless I have a letter first). Thank you.

  11. Robyn

    I’m under the treatment of a general practitioner for my mental health issues. Will a letter from her be enough to qualify me? I took your five-minute test and it said I was a good candidate . Previously the family dog acted as an ESA for me, even though we’d never registered her, and I’d like to register the next dog I get for the housing and travel benefits.

    1. jennnifer

      Hi Robyn,

      Not to butt my nose in, but if you scroll down a few comments to the one from Kay (24 October 2016), you will see that she poses a very similar question (though a bit more complicated, as she is overseas).

      This was the response to her post: Send us an email at [email protected] and we can help you out.

      I hope that they will be able to assist you as well!

      Best of luck, and good health to you,
      Jenn

  12. Toni Self

    I have a dog that is great at helping me with emotional support. He is 6 yrs old, sweet and mostly well behaved. He does get excited around new people and tends to jump on them. Any ideas where I can get training done with him before I worry about getting a letter from my dr?

  13. Nicole

    I previously saw a life counselor and specialist on mental health; however I have not been to see then in a few months. I was diagnois and work at a pet store because it helps with my depression and anxiety. My parents recently got me a dog because I am moving out. Will I have any problems contacting my life counselor for a letter for a ESA?

  14. Kay

    I already have an ESA and have traveled on over 35 flights with him. However, I have been stationed in Japan for over a year now, and my letter is over a year old and is from my psychiatrist back in the states that I obviously am not treated by anymore. My question is, will it be sufficient for my primary care physician to write me a new letter (for an upcoming trip)? Because I have not been seeing a psychiatrist, and have only been treated by my PCM (not many resources out here.). I will be flying Delta Airlines in a little less than a month, and I am so nervous about this- which isn’t helping my anxiety! Thanks.

    1. Post
      Author
      certapet

      Send us an email at [email protected] and we can help you out.

  15. Alyssa

    I am currently seeing a psychologist for my GAD (generalized anxiety disorder). Can she write me a letter for an emotional support animal? I’m confused about what mental health professional has to write the letter. I would need my dog to fly with me and have the letter for housing.

    1. Post
      Author
  16. Mackenzie

    I own a ball python and she is a sweetheart! She has helped me become less angry at times and depressed. I am diagnosed with depression and I may be Bipolar l. Can she ever be a ESA?

    1. Post
      Author
    2. Doug

      It is ridiculous requests like this that will make it bad for everybody. I actually like snakes, but you know very well that lots of people are petrified of them. Why do people always have to take everything too far.

    1. Post
      Author
      1. Mikki Olsen

        Hi, my general physician told me (and she’s not the first) that due to me finding comfort in dogs tha I should get an ESA . I have anxiety about leaving home and being in public and have almost a phobia of people. Sometimes I can’t go out and won’t for several days until I’m forced to go to the grocery store because there’s no food at home. I do not make friends easily, most of the people I regularly deal with are friends I’ve had since school. Have not kept any new friends around since middle school. I could never finish school due to my issues and medication never worked: it either made me worse, did nothing, or made me sick to my stomach. My general care physician says she can help me get the dog certified, as I do not see a therapist as I most recently moved so my therapist is no longer my therapist. Would my doctor be able to certify an ESA? Thanks!

  17. Joseph

    I have a Generalize Anxiety Disorder, ADHD, and Bipolar II. I have two cats that help me to control my mood swings and my anxiety. I know they qualify to become ESA’s. How do I go about that. Do I need to get a letter for each of them or can I cover both? Do I need any proof of my conditions?

    1. Rebecca Barclay

      I am also quite new to this process. In the past, my Primary Care Physician’s letter (ie: My Doctor) was sufficient for federal low-income housing. Suddenly, in this new apt, it is not?? I should think one letter for two cats should be enough, but that’s a ?? for the ESA folks to answer*!* Good Luck*!*

    2. minlee

      Joseph, I would suggest you first take our free pre-screening exam to see if you qualify. This will then take you through the process which we have made as painless as possible. Thanks Joseph and we wish you well.

  18. Betty

    What is the charge for the Mental Health letter, and do I have to “renew” this letter on a yearly basis at the same cost? We live in a community where only 1 pet is allowed, and my husband has a cat that couldn’t care less if I lived here. He is daddy’s boy all the way. A dog for me would greatly improve my mental state and other medical issues, and would no doubt help me live longer. Will this letter be able to fight the HOA board and allow me to keep a small dog? Others have gone to court over this type of thing and have lost and either had to move or get rid of one pet.

    Thanking you in advance,
    Betty

    1. Post
      Author
      certapet

      Betty,
      Send us an email at [email protected]. We will be able to connect you with a licensed mental health professional that can see if an Emotional Support Dog is right for you.

  19. Rae

    Do you need to get a vest or anything for an ESA, or is your letter all that is needed? Like can I walk my dog around on her leash/harness as normally and just keep your letter on me at all times?

    1. Post
      Author
  20. Kelsey

    Does someone with and ESA have to get a new letter every 12 months, just wanting to make sure if information i have been given prior is correct or not before doing anything. I do have ptsd, deppression, anxiety, and panic attacks, and i do know i can get get certified. I just prefer not to have someone drive me an hour to my doctor, and haven’t found a new psychiatrist since my last one wouldn’t help with anything except calling the cops when i explained what i was going through at the time (her not wanting to refill my medication) because she was wonderful enough to not even know she was the one that prescribed them to me.

    1. Post
      Author
      certapet

      Typically the Therapist only will write letters that cover 1 calendar year. This is primarily due to the fact that they see it as a prescription.

    2. Rebecca Barclay

      My goodness, gracious, sakes alive. Your story is almost exactly like my pals experience up here in Northern AZ, excepting his “idiot” wasn’t/is not even a real Dr, merely a “nurse practitioner”; which frankly I believe, this person is only the practicing part, not even a true Nurse*!*

      What is up with these new requirements, when a Dr’s letter was perfectly acceptable just 4 months ago, now it is NOT??

    1. Steeny Bakke

      Any animal can qualify, but you might have to fight harder for people to recognize a pony over a dog or cat. My friend has a cocktail as her ESA.

  21. Ayralynn Darling

    Can I still qualify to have an emotional support dog if I don’t have a current psychologist? Or do I have to have a doctor? (I can’t afford to be seen by a professional even though I am diagnosed with mental disabilities)

    1. Post
      Author
      certapet

      Ayralynn,
      You will need to be assessed by a Licensed Mental Health Professional which could be a Doctor or a Therapists in your area or via Telahealth.

  22. Crystal Diana

    I’m not diagnosed with any illness but I’m want to get my Labrador ESA certified. Our Apartments don’t allowed large bread dogs. She was given to us by a neighbor and we got attrached. Now, since she’s been in our life everything has been different in a great way. She gets me out of the apartment and active. Also we have been trying to get pregnant for a few years with no luck, which causes me to isolate myself and feel down most days.

    1. Post
      Author
      certapet

      Crystal,
      Give us a call or email us at [email protected]. We will be happy to answer any questions you have about Emotional Support Dogs.

  23. Seiarrah Johnson

    Hello, I wanted to know how long does it take to hear back from the professional after you do the screening. I’m currently looking to get an emotional support kitten recently and just wanted to know. My boyfriend was the one who recommend this to me since i suffer from depression and anxiety . He even offered to help me get the kitten if I was approved.

    1. Post
      Author
      certapet

      Seiarrah,
      Once you complete your intake assessment and are assigned to a Licensed Mental Health Professional, you should hear back within 24-hours. IF you have any concerns just give us a call at (844) 272-9391 or email us at [email protected]. We just built a new software platform so things are running even better than before 🙂

  24. Julia

    I have a variety of medical problems that not only affect my mental health but my physical. My ability to walk is due from my heart and my 22Q Deletion Syndrome, and I have anxiety, constant panic attacks and I’ve been suicidal (I called a suicide hotline the other day and thankfully they helped calm me down).

    I currently have three dogs but none of them help me. They aren’t trained and are actually all quite spoiled but the thing is i want a dog just for me that will listen and guide me through my episodes and let me hug/hold them. I can’t go out much due to my health problems, but if I did it’d be nice to bring the dog with me since I get anxiety in public places often.

    I’m claustrophobic and am really terrified of crowds. I’ll wait out a crowd to make sure I’m not trampled before walking past people. For some reason I’ve just had panic attacks in my room and said “I don’t want to be in my room” And it’ll be 3 AM and I know my parent’s are sleeping, and I can’t do anything about it – I just need someone. Which, again, I think I’ll benefit from a Emotional Support Dog in those situations.

    Lot’s of things are going on right now. I have oral surgery on Tuesday and soon will be getting an operation in the Cardiac Cath Lab. My mother said she’d consider it – but I don’t even know where to start looking into getting a dog like this. Can anyone here help me or offer me links? I live in Florida if that gives you an idea. Would our insurance be able to cover it? I have Medicade.

    1. Post
      Author
      certapet

      Julia,
      You may want to actually get a trained Service Dog. Since ESAs are not trained to perform specific tasks, a service dog may be a better solution for you. Send us an email at [email protected] and our customer experience team can guide you through the process.

      All the best,
      CertaPet Team

    1. Post
      Author
      certapet

      Alisson,
      We do not provide you with a dog, we only provide you with access to a Licensed Mental Health Professional. Shoot us an email at [email protected] and we can give you some more information.

  25. S

    Is this letter guaranteed? I have a flight coming up in a few days and I need to show necessary paperwork in advance.

    1. Post
      Author
      certapet

      S,
      Our letters are 100% real and come from Licensed Mental Health Professionals so YES they are guaranteed :-). Send us an email at [email protected] to learn more.

  26. Friend

    Hi, I suffered from depression for many years yet never told doctors or anyone about it. Now I am currently pregnant and it still affects me. I live in an apartment that does not accept pets. Will this website be able to help someone like me get a dog since I have no medical documentation anywhere of my past history?

    1. Post
      Author
      certapet

      Yes! You will have a consultation with a Licensed Mental Health Professional who will determine whether or not an Emotional Support Animal will be good for you. If you have more questions just email us at [email protected].

  27. Shawn

    Our apt complex wants my wife’s physician to sign and fill out a quick questionaire given to us by the apt to prove the need for the therapy dog. Is this something you could do if we emailed it you?

    1. Post
      Author
      certapet

      Shawn,
      All of the Therapists in our network can help you with this. Just take the 5-min Emotional Support Animal screening by clicking “Start Here” and if you are a good candidate you will be able to pay for a consultation with a Licensed Mental Health Professional. After that, you will be able to work with the Therapist to get the documentation you need.

  28. Sabrynna

    Hello,
    After we complete the certapet screening, do I have to do anything else or wait until I get a response from the screening?

    1. Post
      Author
      certapet

      The screening is an informational tool that tells you whether you are a good candidate. Afterwards you will want to head over to https://www.certapet.com/medical/v2 and select the type of consolation you would like. Once you pay, you will be automatically connected with a Licensed Mental Health Professional via our proprietary health platform and they will have the final say as to whether or not an ESA will be beneficial to you. If you have any questions or concerns shoot our Customer Experience team an email at [email protected].

      Have a great weekend!

    1. Post
      Author
      certapet

      Emily,
      Some Mental Health Professionals will do it and some will not. Just shoot our customer support team an email at [email protected] so we can understand your situation a little better 🙂

    1. Post
      Author
      certapet

      Heather,
      Registries are scams since they are meaningless without a recommendation letter from a Licensed Mental Health Professionals. If you check the quick summary of Emotional Support Animal Laws we compiled, you will noticed that no where does it say anything about registries. My suggestion is to steer clear of them and save your money.

  29. Andy Harrison

    I’m sure that there are plenty of people out there who could greatly benefit from getting something like this. Now you can’t just pick any animal and call it good. You have to take a test to make sure you are eligible for one. If you are, then how would you go about picking an animal?

    1. Post
      Author
      certapet

      Andy,
      Unlike a Service Dog, Emotional Support Animals require no training and do not have to meet any special requirements. However, we highly recommend that you ensure your dog is well trained and well behaved to reduce any potential conflict when bringing them into a rental house/apartment or on an airplane.

      1. Hunter

        So I currently do not have a dog that I can take with me. My parents dog helps me with my anxiety and depression but I cannot have him. Would I be able to get my own dog? Or do I already have to own one?

        1. Post
          Author
          certapet

          Hunter,
          Shoot us an email at [email protected] and our customer experience team will give you some more details on the process.

  30. Pingback: CertaPet Review | Do You Need An Emotional Support Animal? - Nokia

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