February 1, 2020

fake esa letter

fake esa letter

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 airlines are still resistant to ESAs.

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 to which an ESA owner must present a legitimate Emotional Support Animal letter.

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, and possibly additional forms based on the specific airline, like Delta.

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.

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.

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 Animal 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.

traveling with emotional support animal

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, who can only write an ESA letter.

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 clinical psychologist, licensed professional counselor, mental health counselor, psychiatrist or a licensed psychiatric, or mental health nurse practitioner.

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, benefitting the individual.

The emotional support animal letter that I got met none of those ESA letter 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.

certapet logo

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 Emotional Support Animal 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.

vacation with emotional support animal

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

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 or mental health nurse practitioner.

Depending on your state, a primary care physician, physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner may also be considered an 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 for housing, citing that the letter was not prescribed by a professional licensed to practice in the same state.

CertaPet works with 39 LMHPs who are licensed to practice in all 50 US states. They will always connect you with an LMHP who practices in your state.

3. There is NO screening.

A mental health 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 accommodations, be it your landlord or an airline.

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! Same goes for “certification” and getting your ESA “certified” as an Emotional Support Animal! It is not real.

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’ or a legit ESA registration (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, a registry is not real and does not benefit you or your Emotional Support Animal.

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.

About the author 

CertaPet Staff

  • I don’t think a SD should go in a store cart. I have a SD. My dog would never go there. I’m not saying anything about ASE. I have alot of mental illnesses. When I was younger they didn’t have ASE’s I also agree a doctor should give you the paper work that is face to face.

  • When I was younger they didn’t have ESA. I went through alot. I know that sounds bad but that is not how I want it to seem. I have a SD but not for mental illness. I do have alot of mental illnesses. I don’t think it’s right to go into a store and 5 dogs in a store cart. They say the are SD. No they aren’t. My SD has never went into a cart.

  • Looking to get a registered for my dog I have mental health disease and don’t know if I should get it from my mental health therapist or online

    • Talk to your psychiatrist or other mental health professional. This is a scam. Please talk to a real life licensed mental health physician in your area. This is a scam!

  • American requires a specific form be completed that includes the Doctor name, signature and license #. Is this a service CertaPet provides?

  • So a mental health professional told you to get a cat and then you went online for a letter. Why not get it from the one you already had?

  • In light of all the positive negative comments I am torn as a person who knows ESA and Service Animals are truly important to individuals that need them but am also a property manager that knows the system is flawed and abused by people that just want their pet. Everyone deserves to live their best quality of life even if faced with a disability(s). People that abuse the system are to be blamed for the back lash people face that truly need these animals. I guess all I can say is if you have a legitiment need for an ESA/Service Animal don’t get angry at the person for asking a couple extra questions some of us are just trying to weed out the fake ones. The truly ignorant people do not deserve your attention and by playing into their posts only gives them the gratification they were looking for. That being said I do not feel like a mental disability can be diagnosed over a computer/website and feel like all ESA/Service Animal letters should come from a local provider that can be contacted for verification. I hope everyone has a good day and for the people out there that truly do not understand mental illness take time to educate yourself.

  • I do not mind cats and small dogs that do not bark or smell, but NO WAY are you going to force me to sit with and accommodate a large, needy, smelly dog, horse, monkey or anything else. If you are unstable enough to require an animal to keep you from going nuts on public transportation, you don’t need to be as anywhere but a rubber room, and you will NOT force your craziness on ME!

  • Read the ESA and Service dog laws and protection from the ADA and DOJ . Spelled out and Federaly enforced . Simple !! Some simplicity may vary by state but that is easy to research . I’ve had 2 Service dogs , and where ESA’s do fill an important role …. they have 2 rights , public transport and housing . Period !! A Service dog is allowed anywhere the public is . They are concidered medical equipment .

  • I just got my Emotional support dogs approved by my mental health provider. My dogs help me deal with PTSD anxiety and substance abuse problems as a result of them. I don’t need this site for my letter but if it is legitimate then anyone that can avoid pills or worse hurting themselves or others please consider it. Dogs or animals can save lives. Mine included. Mental health issues are real. They are every bit as demoralizing as a broken leg or cancer. I am now not embarrassed to admit I have these issues as I have talked to people and realize that if I had cancer or diabetes I would not be embarrassed to get them treated.

    • I’m so happy to hear than John Z!
      We encourage people to use whatever path is best for them. When people have a supportive and understanding mental health provider, that’s awesome! I absolutely prefer my emotional support animal to the pills I used to take. I’m a much better person and I feel much better.

  • Will my airline letter qualify for housing as well? I’m in a quick glitch and don’t have time to purchase the housing letter. It states that my emotional support dog is crucial for my mental health and states that I fall under disabled under the ADA, and also talks about him flying with me, but does not mention the fair housing act.


  • This is something which is usually unavoidable. People taking advantage of laws for their selfish motives. Such sites are just running to make profits by selling fake ESA letters. And who will hold them responsible when there is no physical location mentioned in such sites. So, it’s our duty as a consumer to avoid such shady sites and look for legitimate sites that are providing legitimate letters.

  • Great blog. Really helpful. I don’t know why people do this. This is affecting the people who really want to get an emotional support animal. It is time we understand this and stop the people who are trying to take the advantage. It is great that you are spreading the message.

  • Has anyone used an ESA letters from this site to get their dog on a plane? Did it work? Is there a way for me to tell whether you are a real person responding as opposed to a rep from the website?

    • Sarah,
      Thats exactly what I need to know. I need one to fly on the plane.
      I was on a site and the person replying to comments couldn’t even speak English properly

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