21 July, 2015

How a Fake ESA Letter Ruined My Vacation

Fake Doctor Online: ESA Letter Online Dog Scam not legit

Photo: iStock.com / Yuri

Fake Doctor Online: Not All ESA Letters Are Created Equal

Having a mental or emotional disability can be every bit as challenging and debilitating as a physical limitation.

But sadly, many people underestimate the severity of mental and emotional disabilities, simply because their symptoms often go unnoticed.

However, that doesn’t make them any less important.

Many people do not understand the significance or prevalence of these disabilities, and many are still unaware of alternative forms of treatment, such as Emotional Support Animals (ESAs).

Additionally, many landlords and businesses are still resistant to ESAs.

Fake Doctor Online/ESA Scam: One in Four Americans will experience mental illness in a given year!

Thankfully however, the United States government has been working towards further protecting disabled individuals from discrimination.

The primary laws concerning ESA owners are the Fair Housing Act (FHA), and the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA). Laws like the ACAA provide specific guidelines for individuals traveling with an Emotional Support Animal or service animal.

The ACAA requires airlines to allow individuals with ESAs to fly with their ESA in the cabin, for free, rather than requiring them to check their animal in as cargo like a pet.

However, in order to qualify for these protections, individuals must have a valid ESA Letter, which serves as a prescription for the ESA.

See If You Qualify for an Emotional Support Animal

There are many sources to obtain an Emotional Support Animal Letter online, but unfortunately, not all of these sources are legitimate or in full accordance with the law.

Fake Doctor Online/ESA Scam: Approximately 18% of American adults live with some form of mental or emotional disability

The Day Everything Changed

Six years ago, I was in a nasty car wreck and endured a very personal loss.

To this day, I still suffer from depression and anxiety, and as part of my recovery process, my doctor suggested I get a cat, to serve as an Emotional Support Animal.

“But how would I train it?” I asked. I’d never owned or cared for an animal before.

She smiled.

Being a cat owner herself, my doctor assured me that cats are relatively low maintenance creatures, and that a cat would probably be quick to “train me.” She insisted that a companion animal was what I needed.

She pointed me towards a local animal shelter, and that’s where I met Tigger.

For the last six years, my cat Tigger has been my faithful companion and closest friend. He’s been there for me through everything and has helped me cope with my disabilities.

Tigger - My emotional support cat

Tigger!

How a Fake ESA Letter Ruined My Vacation

Recently, Tigger and I decided to take a much-needed vacation.

I decided to get an emotional support cat letter so that he could fly with me.

Wading through all the laws and airline regulations became very tedious, and I hastily chose an online ESA registry that was quick to promise that all I had to do was pay them and I’d get my ESA Letter.

No questions asked.

I didn’t know any better, so I did it. I quickly paid them and within a few days I received a letter that I believed to be completely legitimate.

A week later, Tigger and I headed to the airport.

I couldn’t wait to work on my tan.

fake esa letter online doctor scam - miami beach goes to the dogs

“Miami here we come!”

But when we got to the airport, something was wrong.

The airline attendant locked her lips as if trying not to smile and quietly shook her head “no” as she reviewed my ESA Letter.

Was Tigger on the No-Fly List?

My gut sank.

After speaking to the airline’s customer service managers, I learned that the letter I bought wasn’t in accordance with all the current emotional support animal laws or airline policies.

In fact, further investigation revealed that the “doctor” I bought my letter from wasn’t even a licensed mental health professional.

I was pissed.

Although my letter stated that my cat offered emotional support, the law required that it show a diagnosis of a mental or emotional disability, and it had to be from a Licensed Mental Health Professional, such as a Psychiatrist or Psychologist.

See If You Qualify for an Emotional Support Animal

Additionally, the letter must indicate that the animal is a “reasonable accommodation,” i.e., assistive aide similar to a wheelchair, benefitting the individual.

The emotional support animal letter that I got met none of those requirements and I didn’t know what to do.

thought my letter would protect me from being discriminated against and would allow Tigger and I to fly without incident.

Instead, I learned not all ESA Letters are created equal.

Emotional-Support-Dog-Letter from certapet counters the fake and scam letters sold some shady "doctors"

That’s When I Found CertaPet

Since that unforgettable day, I did end up finding a better place to get my ESA Letter online.

This time, I found one that’s both completely legitimate, and fully recognized by every domestic airline.

Naturally, I was more than a little jaded after my first experience with buying an ESA Letter online but this time, I did my homework.

Instead of paying for some bogus ESA registration that’s absolutely meaningless, I decided to do it right.

This time, I used a highly recommended company that connected me with an actual, licensed mental health professional; one with verifiable credentials.

That’s when I found CertaPet.

This time, I was required to complete an online mental health screening, and unlike my previous experience, I knew that a licensed mental health professional would personally manage my prescription for an ESA and write my official letter.

I did my homework and obviously, so had they.

I sighed with relief, knowing my money was well spent.

Now I can travel with confidence and ease, thanks to CertaPet…

…and life’s never been better.

fake doctor online scam esa letter online

If you think you could benefit from having an Emotional Support Animal, click below to see if you qualify.

See If You Qualify for an Emotional Support Animal

Updated, 2017: How to Tell if an ESA Service is NOT Genuine

1. Letters are NOT written by a licensed mental health professional (LMHP).

A licensed mental health professional can be a clinical psychologist, licensed professional counselor, mental health counselor, psychiatrist or a licensed psychiatric and mental health nurse practitioner.

Depending on your state, a primary care physician, physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner may also be considered a LMHP.

2. They don’t have an LMHP licensed to practice in your state.

For your letter to be completely valid, your LMHP must be licensed to practice in the state you are living in. We often notice landlords declining an ESA letter citing that the letter was not prescribed by a professional licensed to practice in the same state.

CertaPet works with 30 LMHPs who are licensed to practice in 45 US states. They will always connect you with an LMHP who practices in your state.

3. There is NO screening.

A screening ensures that you are indeed qualified to receive an emotional support animal letter, and the LMHP issuing the letter knows about your disabilities and believes an ESA would come to your aid.

If an ESA service is awarding letter to anyone without any screening, rest assured that the letter will be questioned and likely declined when you are producing it to request reasonable accomodation, be it your landlord or an airlines.

4. The Service calls itself a ‘registry’ and asks you to sign up for it.

There is no such thing as an “official emotional support animal registry.” This also goes for sites with names similar to “United States dog registry, “US Animal Registry,” and “Service Dog Registry of America.”

Again, to confirm, there is no national or state or city level registry for emotional support animals. An ESA is absolutely not required to be registered anywhere! Any service having the words “United States”, “US”, “National” added to the word “registry” is basically trying to fool people into thinking that their pet gets added to an ‘official registry’ (tell me about easy-money)! They often provide shiny add-ons such as a ‘framed certificate’, an ID card for your dog, dog tags containing the words ‘Emotional Support Animal’, etc. While the swags may be nice to have, they do not make your pet an ESA.

In short, there is no benefit in using a registry. Don’t use one.

5. There is no follow-on service.

You must make sure that an ESA service has a good support service that will help you even after your letter is delivered. They must be able to respond to verification requests, or be able to deliver follow-on services such as an Airline-specific authorization form.

 

Comments 100

  1. I get very severe anxiety/panic attacks (you really, really, really don’t want me to have one) when I got. I have an ESA that I HAVE to take with me when I fly. I can’t take the meds for my anxiety because I have pretty severe reactions to ALL (ive tried every single one) of them, hence needing my ESA.

    Unless you are deathly allergic (meaning you will go into anaphylactic shock and DIE if you breathe/touch said animal), you can take an allergy pill to deal with your allergies and quit being a douchebag. It’s people like you that make my anxiety kick in.

    F.Y.I, you can tell by the look of someone who has a legitimate need for an ESA on a flight. I will look nervous, tense, shaky, pale , close my eyes and look like I will die when the airplane hits any sort of turbulence as well as walking a little shaky if i have to get up and use the bathroom. I will also look like I.could burst out hysterically crying at any moment because I am literally attempting to try not to break down and cry.

  2. I actually do have an ESA and I obtained my certified letter stating that I do need my ESA in PERSON. I am skeptical of anyone who gets theirs online. In less you ha e agoraphobia, you would be seeing someone in person. Also, if this was just an article warming about fake sites, it wouldn’t have links to a site that is ‘legitimate’. Basically, if you need to have an ESA, you need to get it directly from the professional that is seeing you, not from an online site.

  3. You don’t know that, and you have no way of knowing that. How would you be able to ascertain just by looking at someone whether or not they have a mental health condition firvwhich a licensed mental health professional has recommended the use of an animal for emotional support?

    I fly a lot, and I have yet to see any dog behaving badly.

    I have never heard of being “written up,” and suspect that you don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t believe that you are a flight attendant.

  4. @Whiteney

    Actually Terriers are the most aggressive type of dog. That’s why bull dogs were bred with them to make the ultimate fighting dog. Pitbulls were bred to be very gentle and loving towards humans though. And yes the most non fatal bites goes to the dachshund.

  5. Shame on you ! If you have nothing nice to say, move on.

    I totally respect this Lady for her report and advise based on her experiences.

    You apparently have no life to be a Bully on a site when folks are helping one another.

    You need an emotional support animal … they don’t need you!!!

  6. You obviously have never met a pit. My two service animals are pit mixes and literally save my life on a daily basis. I suffer from severe anxiety and depression and no other breed would or could be as good at what my animals do as they are. Biased, biased, biased! Go to a shelter and interact with one, you will see how affectionate, loving and attentive they are. Small breed dogs are MUCH more likely to be aggressive. Anyone I’ve ever spoken to that works or owns a pet supply store has shown me scars or told me stories of how they have been attacked at one time or another – and guess what size animal. I had a store owner go as far as saying that she would restrict small animals from entering her store if she was bitten once more. A HUGE mistake people make is picking up their small dog when they see a large dog, fearful of the large breed animal. This communicates to the small animal that they should be fearful of the other, and so they become frightened and aggressive. I’ve seen Service animals in the form of pigs and chickens – as long as the animal helps the individual with their disability it matters NOT what breed it is.

  7. Your a miserable human being that should use a different type of transportation. Not everyone is bogus! I truly feel sorry for you and your bogus allergy scam against people who have medical problems.
    SHAME ON YOU!

  8. Wealthy people have no problem, they simply buy their homes, planes, etc. the housing crises and the pauperization of the American middle class has made many of us clinically anxious. I owned all my homes until 2012. Now I have to claim a diagnosis to live with my animal family, ESA letters for tenants are class discrimination. If we as a culture tolerate children and what passes for parenting, then we can tolerate the childless, who prefer dogs and cats to kids.

  9. The sign leaving the Florida airport also says “Firearms class forming daily”, then there are pawn shops all over the place with signs “GUNS”
    The animal activist and the gun nuts deserve each other!

  10. I have lived at my residence for a year, 11 months of which I have gone from suffering deep depression and anxiety, insomnia and PTSD, that is until I adopted Raleigh June 8th, 2016. I have physical disability which is the basis for the emotional suffering and am on SSI for the physical aspect. It seems as I should be a prime candidate for Raleigh being an ESA for me. Will I be able to present a letter to my landlord in Portland, OR who is also an attorney and be able to not pay anymore pet rent/fees? Living on SSI and SNAP leaves me with almost no $, just eking out an existence. Since I adopted Raleigh, I have genuine joy in my life, we are together almost 24/7, the longest we’ve been apart is when I had surgery last year & was gone for about 8 hours. He sleeps with me, my constant companion and my most adored and prized ‘possession’. I do not know what I’d do without him!

  11. Oh my gosh I totally agree!!! I’m tired of paying for pet fees. My pet is quiet, doesn’t make a sound. I wish they would start charging baby fees. Tired of hearing crying on my flights!

    1. I am sick of all the animals allowed in the PASSENGER portion of the plane.
      A woman had a dog in the carrier by her seat, as soon as the plane took off the animal was out the carrier and on the tray. I quietly ask the flight attendant to have the animal returned to its carrier. She loudly told me that there was nothing she could do!
      I began to act like a real human and they threatened to land at the nearest airport. I told them if they didn’t cage that animal, we wouldn’t make it to the nearest airport!
      They cage the animal.
      I have begun to fight back!
      I have submitted more documentation from doctors and specialists concerning animal allergy, to all the airlines that I use. It’s time to reassert our rights to be animal free!
      End the bogus therapy animal sham!

      1. You sound like c*nt. Oh noes, someone has their dog out, I’m going to act like a horrible person because of it!!

        Thank goodness I’m not an airline attendant, I would have booted you from the plane without a parachute, as that sort of twatwaffleish behavior is entirely more disturbing than an uncrated dog. Please don’t fly again if this is all it takes to set you off…and don’t breed. Please don’t breed.

      2. The FAA already recognizes people have allergies, they also recognize that you cannot ever be allergen free because pet owners have the allergens on their clothes and person, where it gets into the air regardless of any animals presence.

        If it is that bad sit far away from the ESAs or wear an allergen mask. You would need it either way if it is that bad.

  12. My Dr is willing to write a letter for my ESA what all does it have to contain does it have to have the dog’s name and breed and what else does it have to have

  13. What happens if the wife suffers from anxiety and the husband suffers from PTSD. Can the certificate be assigned to both or do we need to purchase separately?

  14. ** advise!!!! ** I feel like I need to comment as a Fair Housing certified property manager.
    How to go about ESA:
    Yes, as long as you don’t rent a random room somewhere, and your landlord actually falls under the fair housing law, your landlord must allow your ESA with proper documentation. However, you must ask them for a “reasonable accommodation request” PRIOR to bringing the dog into their property. Dont hide the dog and expect to use the letter as a trump card. That won’t go over well. Don’t be scared, we all know ESAs and their importance. They took the fair housing classes just like myself, and we were taught it’s a delicate process and that the pets no longer are “pets” but they are viewed as necessity. As long as the animal is not aggressive, it must be welcome. Doesn’t need any other form of training. They are NOT allowed to charge you pet fees/pet rent, however you are REQUIRED to pay for damages caused to the home within your time there by the dog. As any responsible owner should be alright with. Some properties have a form a doctor needs to fill out, others accept a generic letter from the doctor stating you’re in need of an ESA. It’s SUPER EASY! Just ask the landlord what they prefer when adding an ESA to your lease — I have an ESA dog and lived where pets weren’t allowed. They are not allowed to ask specifics on the diagnosis they just need to know that you would benefit from one, that you’re being treated etc. and it must be written by someone familiar with your situation.
    Legally it doesn’t have to be a doctor. Even social workers etc. can write a letter. They must accept it. They do have the right to call and check
    That your letter is legit, and due to the vast amount of fake forms being submitted, don’t be shocked if they do call the doctor and or contact. They cannot ask about your diagnosis or anything of the sort, they can just check out that it’s legit. The forms are really easy to get filled out, and no reason to pay a billon dollars for fake ones. Your doctor is likely very willing to fill it out thanks to the studies now on ESA and how popular they are.
    Don’t stress over it, if you do it in advance and don’t try to be sketch, it’s easy and my ESA has been a blessing.

    1. Hi Devin, Is it best to NOT tell them about the ESA until you are signing the lease and then ask for the ‘special accommodation’ at that time of signing the lease before property possession so they do not have the opportunity to discriminate against you as suggested in this website? What exactly is the proper and legal protocol for applying and disclosing the pet to them? Also, do you HAVE to disclose the breed?
      Thanks, TJ

    2. what would be the most legit way to go about registering my dog as an esa? im not well informed and dont want to do it online and it be a scam. thank you!

    3. Hi, I am just looking for your opinion based on what you shared. We live in an apartment and in our lease it says we are allowed to have a dog, but the landlord must approve breed in advance. We spent months researching, decided on a breed and I tried to reach out to my landlord to discuss with her….over and over again. In the meantime, since moving in, I’ve undergone some trauma and emotional disorder resulting that qualifies me for an ESA. After a couple weeks of trying to get a hold of her and her continuing to put me off, I had increasing anxiety about the situation so I wrote her a long email explaining my situation and the dog thoroughly. She told me she would follow up 5-6 days later… she never did. At this stage, my ’emotional problems’ are heavily triggered as I’ve gone out of my way over and over to reach out to her and get her approval/amendment about ESA, whatever. Weeks later, still no reply, we picked out a pup and put a deposit down, with the logic that if she wants to kick us out, she can, we’ll move…I can’t wait on the dog and I don’t have the emotional ability to continue to try getting her approval. In the meantime, I’ve discussed the whole situation with my therapist so she’s in the loop as well. Any thoughts on the ins and outs of landlord legality here or just what you might think of that situation? I don’t need any legal advice or anything, just looking for an informed opinion of a landlord.

  15. I don’t get why the person in the testimony needed this website if they were already seeing a mental health professional. Why didn’t they get them to write the letter?

  16. My Regular Doctor has seen me for Anxiety and panic attacks she wrote me a letter for my Legitimate ESA and it has worked just fine it doesn’t have to be done by a psychiatrist or mental health Doctor and it does not expire in a year.

      1. Does Southwest accept a letter from Certapet? I want to be absolutely certain before I pay for the letter. I don’t have adequate health insurance, which is why I don’t have a doctor to ask for an “official” one.

        1. CertaPet does not issues the letters. We connect you with a licensed mental health professional who may or may not recommend an ESA for you. 🙂

          So yes… Southwest accepts letters from Licensed Therapists.

  17. You do not have to pay any service to train your dog, your sister especially if she did it before is more than good enough. Look up ADA laws, get a letter from his Dr, and as long as the dog is trained to do SPECIFIC tasks for his disability he is a service dog. Do not bother paying to put him on some fake registry, just have him trained properly and have the letter from the dr. Online searches will tell you all the ADA laws, just be sure to follow those. ADA.gov states that you do not need to pay a trainer & that they don’t even recognize any of the registries. These registries in this articl are for ESA animals to fly on an airplane, not a service dog. There is a difference

  18. It is truly sad that ESAs are frowned upon. ANY online website that provides a letter of recommendation for a pet is the EXACT reason why the housing and travel industries have made it so difficult for individuals that ACTUALLY need ESAs. I am a property manager and have to jump through hoops to get a resident’s ESA approved…

  19. Since infancy my adult son has been disabled. Since 2006 he has received a monthly SSDI check. That check is so small it is impossible for him to pay the exorbitant fees charged for a certified service dog. Yet, he would greatly benefit from having a dog alert him to his seizures, and to provide emotional support for other issues he has.
    I understand there’s such a thing as “service dog in training” status that helps get around the strict rules of Greyhound and Amtrak. (Crazy that their rules are tighter/more rigid than the airlines’). My sister in law who trained service dogs for years–but no longer does this work– will help son train his dog. Would her help in training qualify the dog for “service dog in training” ? Thanks.

    1. I’m sure you have looked up the ADA laws by now which clearly state that a dog “in training” doesn’t count. Figured I’d reply to your post though just in case you didn’t get the answer. I found that going to the ADA website directly and reading the rules was the best way to get real answers.

      1. Actually I called the ADA contact source. Service animals in training require the same protection as actual service dogs because of the end result. If you don’t believe it- call them. They will actually call you back and discuss.
        https://www.ada.gov/
        ADA INFORMATION LINE
        The U.S. Department of Justice provides information about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) through a toll-free
        ADA Information Line.

        800 – 514 – 0301 (voice)
        800 – 514 – 0383 (TTY)

      2. Although the ADA does not recognize dogs in training, some states do such as Florida and Louisiana. And they and the trainers get the same rights of trained dogs and their owners.

  20. Is it possible for your ESA to travel with you on Greyhound? On Amtrak? My research suggests that it’s easier to travel with your ESA on an airplane than it is to travel on land in a bus/train. Thanks

  21. What should my reasonable accomodation request for my apartment look like? Do I have to get their permission before I bring the dog home?

  22. I Just Got my letter for my cat. I have 2 cats do I have to have another letter for the other cat, or can you just add the other cats name to the same letter. Thanks

    1. I have 2 pets that I would like to register do I have to make 2 different payments or can one prescription include both?

  23. For housing in a federally funded apt. An having 2 cats as emonial support animals. Do you need a psychiatrist to provide the letter to work or is using a therapist letter good enough. How much is 191st time charge an how much there after, since needing updated each year. Thanks for reply please.

  24. Certa pet. I live in an apartment where no dogs are allowed. My sister comes over all the time and she has two small dogs she brings to help us. We both suffer from depression and anxiety but I don’t go seek help from therapy like she does. We recently got in trouble for bringing the dogs over sense they do not have any letters. So we gave the management my sisters therapist note saying that she has Esa dogs but they said it doesent matter sense she is not on the lease and the dogs are not allowed here. If I qualify will they be able to deny me too?

  25. I think that esa’s should have to be trained at least for basic obedience and socialization since they are allowed in some public areas. This needs to change because there are too many people trying to pass off there esa as a service animal and bringing them into public areas they shouldn’t be going and is making real service dogs and people who have and responsibly own esa’s look bad. There’s countless times that people buy this stuff online, lie about there conditions and severity of there conditions, and bring an untrained animal into a public place. This is why esa’s keep bitting people and giving well trained dogs and the owners who have them a bad reputation.

    Sure, it might make it harder for some, but it’d make it impossible for scammers to try and pass off an untrained animal as a service animal and helps ease the burden for shop keepers about them. And it should be legal for landlords, airlines, and shopkeepers to ask for proof of basic training to avoid having an untrained animal bite, kick, or otherwise harm an innocent person.

    I also believe that any esa not trained or that shows signs of being untrained, should be disqualified or stripped of there privileges.

    This would help avoid having ignorant people who just want to have there animal with them at all times sully the name of animals and people who actually need these dogs.

    It would also cut down on public attacks by esa’s and makes just makes sense. An untrained animal shouldn’t be allowed in any public area for any reason or with any period of notice.

    And I say this because I legitimately suffer from general anxiety disorder and have a properly socialized and basic trained dog that I can’t have because of the entitled, irresponsible people who have ruined the name of esa’s and service animals for people who actually need them like me.

  26. This is not accurate to all. I work for a major airline. And at no time can they ask you what your diagnosis of mental health is. All the letter has to be is from a doctor with the doctor’s letterhead stating that your animal is an emotional assist animal and that is it. In no way shape or form can they contact the doctor to verify that the letter is in fact from the doctor.

    1. It depends who is working, I have flown with my esa many times, sometimes it’s a simple as letting them know at the gate, other times they want you to call your doctor and show them what your dog is trained for. I’m at the airport right now in fact, flying out was simple, flying back united airlines made me miss my flight because the airline decided to be the doctor didn’t think I was disabled enough.

  27. Has anyone ever flown with their emotional support animal with this letter? I am wondering if it was enough to have this letter to fly?

  28. I have anxiety and depression, i got both of these from a bad car accident that has ruined everything. I moved up to fargo for school, which has not helped me. The apartment I currently live in does not allow pets unless you have a ESA letter as well as a form the apartment complex needs to be signed as well by the doctor/therapist. I have pets back at my parents that help bring me to a better place. I am not sure what to do since i do not have a primary doctor in Fargo, and I was told not many therapist/doctors sign those anymore due to liability issue. I just want to be back to myself before this stupid accident that ruined my life.

  29. My landlord does not let us have pets will an ESA letter allow me to bring her into my home . Will i have to notify him when i get the letter or just show proff when he asks ?

    1. My landlord couldn’t evict me for my ESA but it it made him mad that there was nothing he could do, so he made things really uncomfortable for me and was always looking for ways to kick me out. In the end he just decided to not renew the lease even though I had rented there for 5 years since that was the only legal thing he could do

  30. Thanks Heather. That’s what I thought, too. An Esa doesn’t need any special training. SERVICE animal is on a different column.

  31. What this “story” fails to mention is that ESA’s are not accommodated in hotels nor are they granted reasonable accommodations in temp rental units owned by private persons, etc. If oyu own a dog and go this route_same thing. She may have flown with her cat_but then where was that animal housed? Hotels, etc, do not accept ESA’s. Perhaps a pet friendly hotel_that would be the only place she could stay. Andi if you reach your destination with a dog in a pet friendly hotel_they most likely do not allow you to leave the animal un accompanied while you are out and about. Bring hte dog out and about_you are not accommodated as far as public access with an ESA. Nope, not even the beach unless”pet friendly”

  32. I already have a letter from my own licensed mental health professional who I see regularly. What is my best route to get a Certificate, ID Card, and Vest for my ESA? Thanks!

    1. There is no reason to get your ESA a vest as they are not permitted public access.There is also no reason for ID or cert. If oyu have a letter from your treating mental health professional and have requested reasonable accommodation for housing, you need nothing else. NOTE: airlines require you to remit your letter at least 48 hrs preflight so that they can verify its authenticity and make arrangements prior to you arriving for flight and boarding.

  33. Hi I have a pit bull lab mixed and my apartment is trying to kick her out based on her breed. She is in training to be a service dog but I cannot afford to have her go to a trainer every week so I have been training her with the help of a friend who teaches classes for service and ESA dogs. Is certapet 100% legitimate. I really cannot afford to look like a moron. Also how do I explain the certificate to the people in the office they want to see the professional note saying I need the dog not just the certificate. Legally they are not able to ask what my disabilities are but they did and I have told them they are not allowed to ask me. How would certapet accommodate for that?

    1. Kiana,
      We connect you with a Therapist who will work with you to determine if an Emotional Support Animal is right for you. If approved, they will write you a letter on their letterhead which meets the Fair Housing Act requirements.

    2. They should kick her out. Get real… a pit bull mix is not appropriate. Why don’t you just be honest and call it a pet?

      1. And this is why you can’t discriminate based on breed. Pit mixes can be some of the most loving and helpful animals out there! My American Bully is a huge help to me, personally. It’s all in how you train the dog.

        Bill, don’t be so quick to judge.

  34. Under the FHA, there are very few properties that are exempt from these laws allowing landlords to make reasonable accommodations for an ESA — a building with 4 or fewer units, one of which is owner occupied; single family homes where the owner does not use a real estate agent to buy or rent the property, and the owner owns less than three single family houses; and housing owned by organizations or private clubs that is used for members.

    I currently live in a side-by-side duplex (so 2 units) but the landlord doesn’t live on the other side and it’s currently unoccupied. I don’t know how many(if any) other properties the landlord owns. However, we did rent through a broker/renting agency. Does this qualify us enough from these exemptions listed above to get an ESA?

    1. Yep it specifically states the property management companies are required to accept ESA, it’s different had the owner of the two units rented to you directly.

    2. I think an emotional support animal proof can waive a pet deposit. Rental housing industry got sued for not letting the mentally disabled have an ESA and not pay deposit like people with service animals. I had paid a deposit for my cat with a doctor’s note previously and had my deposit refunded.

  35. While true there is no *required* online registry or certification for SD(service) or ESA(support), using an online doctor for an ESA may be a financial issue. The ADA laws regarding SDs revolve heavily around not creating any undue burden on the disabled, but ESA rules can create a large financial burden as gettin approval from a MHP usually involves commiting to ongoing treatment. This would be ideal for anyone in need of help but unfortunately not everyone can afford weekly private sessions, especially the uninsured.

    It goes without saying that anyone using ESA law as a loophole to take untrained pets for free is just creating a disaster for legitimate handlers, but if you can verify both your condition and your animal’s training then using a service like this might be the only financially viable option. Just be sure that your pet is up to the task! If obedience classes are doggie high school, then navigating an international airport terminal, off leash security procedures, & squeezing in quietly thru airplane travel is the equivalent of a K9 PHD! Taking an animal that would be overwhelmed or panicked thru any of these steps is not only rude for other passengers & staff, but extremely unfair to your stressed out pet.

    If your medical state qualifies as disabling to major life activities then you may also qualify to move from a ‘support animal’ to a full fledged service dog with the help of a proffessional to establish public access & targeted task training. I spent 2 years training my SD dog up to ADA & ADI standards including practice at the terminal before flying, and an ESA should at a minimum be able to do the ADI public access test (google ADI, IAADP, or psychdogpartners for guidelines).

    Above all just be reasonable & be sure your partner is ready for the hurdles, believe me your anxiety will only be exacerbated by a highly anxious animal! Even a ‘certified’ dog can be kicked out if it cant act accordingly with required training, obtaining this letter is only half the challenge!

    1. Emotional support dogs (ESA) are NOT required to be trained. At all. If you are looking to obtain protections under the ADA, then the animal must be a SERVICE animal. But ESAs receive protection under the Fair Housing Act (just like service animals) and under the Air Carrier Act (again, just like service animals).

      HOWEVER, emotional support animals are not the same as service animals. Please do not confuse the two.

      I’ll just leave it at that.

      1. Remember that airlines require at least 48 pre flight for you to submit the letter so that they may check out it’s authenticity and accommodations, etc. Agree above with Elizabeth on the public access test, OB1, etc. There is nothing worse than running into a reactive, untrained dog with ones SD while going about your flight

        1. This comment is WRONG.

          You are not required to submit your ESA documentation 48 hours ahead of time. I fly pretty frequently with my ESA, on different airlines (not that it should matter, since this is federal law), so I speak from experience. I’ve also read the law. I would encourage everyone to read the law.

          I inform the airline at some point before the day that I fly that I will have my ESA with me. I do this on the phone, and I do not show any paperwork until I show up.

          Someone mentioned Southwest Airlines in this thread. The law is the same for Southwest as it is for Delta. What YOU need to do is make sure that your ESA documentation has all that is required (which you can find on the ADA site, but Southwest has the info on their site too).

          I did have one incident during which a Southwest gate agent refused to allow me to fly. She based this on the fact that my documentation was hand written, rather than typed. Of course, she was dead wrong, as there is nothing in the law about hand written versus typed. I complained (after missing my flight), and Southwest sent a voucher for future airfare as compensation. That’s not an act of generosity–they were in violation of federal law regarding ADA.

          My dog is very used to flying and has never caused any issues on planes, in airports or in hotels. She is not a trained service animal, and I don’t pretend that she is. She can walk through security on her own. She sits by my feet in the airport and usually sits on the floor by my feet during flights.

          Most hotels will allow you to stay with no extra fee if you have an authentic ESA letter. I’ve never been turned down, and I travel frequently. It should be noted, however, that hotels are not required to allow this under FHA law, but I’ve yet to be turned down. It helps that my dog is very well behaved, friendly, and obedient. I’m sure it also helps that I am very polite and professional when I arrive. I have my letter/documentation with me as I check in.

          On a slightly different topic, I’m so tired of all the apologists for pit bulls. They are not suitable for travel in crowded airports, on board or in hotels. The problems with the breed are real. Those dogs have extremely powerful jaws that are much stronger than other dogs’ jaws, and they are more prone to attacking other dogs and humans. That is not an opinion. It is a fact. The comment about dauschands was laughable. Dauschands are a very docile breed. What’s more, a dauschsnd can be easily picked up and restrained, if one were to go rogue. You can’t do that with a raging pit bull.

          Just to be clear, my dog is not a dauschsnd. I have also seen with my own eyes a pit bull go bad. It picked up another dog and shook it to death. I’ve never heard of a fatal dauschand attack. Have you?

          The owner of the pit bull that I saw attack another dog also insisted that her lit bull was just the sweetest dog, blah blah blah. Wrong. Her dog proved it was dangerous by violently killing another dog.

          Of course, it’s also true that federal ADA law does not allow an airline to disqualify a pit bull from serving as an ESA, but don’t be surprised or offended when people want nothing to do with you while in airports or on board. They’re rightly afraid of your dog. They don’t want to hear how incredibly sweet your pit bull is. Most people will not recoil in fear of a dauschand.

          If you want a dog that other people enjoy interacting with, get a different breed. I have never heard of an attack, provoked or not, with a dauschand.

  36. I looked to Certapet to get a housing letter. I have no insurance and no doctor since I moved to CA in November of 2015, I currently lost my job and have been staying with my boyfriend, after moving together, 2 months in we are told we can’t have a dog over 20lbs, and my girl was told to be a restricted breed at that, I had no idea what to do, I have anxiety, and depression very bad and it gets worse when I am alone. My boyfriend is military so you can imagine, I can downward spiral pretty quick. I also recently lost my job so no income, and now fear of losing a place to live, not a great time. I came across Certapet and read Yelp, Facebook and whatever else reviews I could find, and decided to give it a try, (I had another letter but I wasn’t sure that it would be excepted due to the fact an RN put it together), anyways Being able to fill out a questionnaire in the comfort and safety of my home helped me a lot. It was. A it reassuring that you actually have to take an evaluation test. Certapet got back to me in much less than 24 hours over a holiday weekend, and a Sunday to boot….. and their staff got back to me on questions within 12 hours, my letter was actually gotten to me in just hours of placing my order……My dog has greatly helped my anxiety in the 5 years I’ve had her, I can’t imagine not having her around! Needless to say, I gave the letter to the Font office, with any supporting docs that they requested, and everything was good to go…no questions asked…..Certapet is a fantastic company that does AMAZING work and I HIGHLY recommend them. Thank you Certapet!

  37. We have two dogs. I am under the care of a LMHP, I have been diagnosed with being Bipolar w/Depression & Anxiety since 2004, and will be asking my Dr. for a letter. But not sure what it should say? Can you please guide me? Secondly… My daughter (16) has been depressed, cutting, on and off for a couple of years, has not seen a Dr. yet. Can we register her dog also for her with one of your LMHP? My concern is we would have 2 ESA Dogs, would that be a problem in our household, since we are two different patients?

  38. Hello – Will you need to reapply yearly? Will this letter be sufficient or will I also need a certificate and ID cards for my dog at check in at the airport?

  39. Hi has how soon can one receive the letter and is this real? I have heard of some fake websites out there .
    Thanks !!!!

      1. So, I understand the airline will check the authenticity of the letter. Will the therapist assigned be certified in my state? Otherwise, how will it be legitimate? Do you have a list of airlines that accept certapet letters? I’m flying on Allegiant.

        1. I have the same questions as Jill who wrote, “So, I understand the airline will check the authenticity of the letter. Will the therapist assigned be certified in my state? Otherwise, how will it be legitimate? Do you have a list of airlines that accept certapet letters? I’m flying on Allegiant.”

          Can someone from CertaPet please respond. Thank you.

  40. My wife has anxiety and I believe she needs an ESA letter if someone was to call to verify this was real do you guys validate that or is just email? How do we go about this process and are these letters legitimate

    1. Head over to http://www.certapet.com and click the start here button. This will take you through our online screening which will determine if you are a good candidate for an Emotional Support Animal Letter. Next, you will have the option to pay $149 or $199 for a Licensed Mental Health Professional to assess your wife’s condition. If approved, she will be sent a recommendation letter immediately via our proprietary telehealth platform and a physical copy via USPS Priority Mail.

      Our process is very efficient and you can check out our reviews on Yelp here: CertaPet Reviews

      If you have any questions comments or concerns, feel free to email our customer support team at [email protected].

  41. People are getting these ESA letters to avoid having to pay to bring their pets in the cabin or to ship them in cargo. I would say the vast majority of ESAs on airplanes are not truely needed as an ESA and are fraudulent because the owners dont want to pay the fees. They are in essence stealing from the airlines by getting their pet noted as an ESA.
    This is also causing problems for those people who have very legitiamte reasons to have ESAs and service animals. The ADA is looking at how to control the out of hand situation of fake ESAs. I do believe there is at least one state that has passed a law covering fake ESAs.
    As a Flight Attendant , I am very sadden to see all the fake ESAs that are being brought on to the planes. Some of these animals do not behave themselves and can cause safety issues if they act up.
    A true ESA is required to behave just as well as a trained service animal, i.e. Seeing eye dog, hearing dog, etc. I know of passengers that have had unruly fake ESAs and have begged the Flight Attendants not to write them up because they know they will not be allowed to bring their pet on board anymore as an ESA.
    People, please quit doing this just to save yourself some money. It is not right, it is in essence stealing and it is fraud. I am not saying that there aren’t people who truely need ESAs, I know a few that do, but the majority that claim they need them dont.

    1. Stealing? I believe the airlines are stealing from passengers who carry their pet on board with no harm to anyone. Why do I have to pay full price fair (yes, ticket for pet is more than my ticket) when the passenger next to me can bring a loud crying snotty baby (infant in arms) FOR FREE. Is that not stealing?

      1. Want to discuss stealing? The airlines steal ‘daily’ from their “normal” sized passengers on most flights. You allow a 300-400 lb passenger to buy a regular economy seat. They have to ask for safety belt extenders, and then they bulge out over their armrests infringing on the space of the passengers next to them causing them to be uncomfortable for the whole flight, Not to mention the prejudice towards families and their children when the airlines require them to pay adult prices for a child that may weigh only 50lbs and hardly fills the seat.
        Talk about abuse……..look to the airlines for the best example. Sell every seat for the same price……..whether you’re 350lbs or just a mere 50lb.
        In your words, ‘I am very saddened’ by the airlines unconscionably stealing from their passengers. Thank you very much.

        1. Cynthia, your comment lacks education. Ignoring the fact that your response has nothing to do with ESA’s…Many airlines DO require overweight passengers to purchase multiple seats. For those that don’t, your argument is that two wrongs make a right? That sounds logical…

          Prejudice towards families that have to pay for their child? Do you understand the meaning of the word prejudice? The fee is related to whether or not the seat has to be used, not how full the seat gets when your child is in it. If your child requires a seat per FAA safety regulations, then you will pay for the seat. Let me break it down for you…according to your reasoning, a family that has 20 children, all of whom way 50lbs. Let’s say they like to adopt. Now, YOU’RE saying that they shouldn’t have to pay for those 20 seats on the airplane because the airline is prejudiced against families with children. See where this is going? An airline is a privately owned business. As such, you may choose to use or not use their services. That choice is yours. You’re welcome very much.

  42. Why would anyone need a letter to take a cat on board? Small pets are allowed to fly with passengers as long as they fit comfortably in a pet carrier that fits under the seat! The doctor’s letter is only required for larger pets to avoid having to fly them in cargo.

  43. Urgent…I have to move by end of month. The apartment im trying to get into requires the letter to have an actual signature on it and it must say “necessity” for my dog, not beneficial or recommended. If it doesnt management wont except it. Can this be done in the letter from CertaPet?

    1. Michele,
      All of the letters are written by Licensed Mental Health Professionals so you should not have any issues if the therapists recommends an Emotional Support Dog for you.

  44. Honestly it’s ridiculous to even apply for an Esa registration every website is bogus and just taking your money. A sufficient letter stating your disabilities and the fact that it is beneficial to your treatment to have an emotional support animal is all you need to get from a psychiatrist or psychologist. Also have it notarized and that was all you need and an airport if you are questioned about your Esa. Absolutely no website registration or payment is needed only the letter from a mental health professional and have it notarized.

    1. Right, but you do realize there are fees for seeing a psychiatrist to get that said letter. Not everyone has insurance, and even those with insurance don’t necessarily have mental health care covered unfortunately.

      I’m sad to see everyone so quick to say “these are not real mental illnesses.” Really? Sure, people can take advantage of ANYTHING, but who’s to say who has anxiety/depression/etc. It’s just not as obvious as physical disorders– for better or worse.

  45. I haven’t had any issues with my emotional support dog but I’m glad it worked out for you in the end. It sounds like you’re in good hands!

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