Laying Down the Law: Who Can Write an ESA Letter?

By: Kathryn Anderson Updated: September 15, 2021

People with a mental illness can welcome an emotional support animal (ESA) into their lives. This furry companion showers them with love and is there during even the hardest days. To get an ESA, you first need an emotional support animal letter. So the question remains: Who can write an ESA letter? Keep reading to find out!

First Things First: What Is an Emotional Support Animal?

Emotional support animals are faithful companions to people with mental disorders or illnesses. They make living with anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other conditions easier. In the end, they are a source of comfort and their presence is therapeutic.

Can't wait to get started?

The ESA Application process at CertaPet starts with a fast, free screening test that you can take right now. It takes only 5 minutes and shows if you may qualify for an ESA right away.

Pets vs. Emotional Support Animals: What's the Difference?

Don't get pets and emotional support animals confused! They are very, very different. Not only do they play different roles, but they are also protected by different laws.

A pet is an animal you get because you want an adventure or cuddle buddy. You become emotionally attached, but they're not part of therapy for you. A pet is not covered by the same laws an ESA is. When it comes to housing, for example, you can't live with a pet in a rented no-pets apartment or house.

An ESA is Part of Your Therapy!

An emotional support animal, on the other hand, is prescribed by a licensed mental health professional (LMHP). They provide therapeutic comfort and are considered assistance animals. This means there are laws in place to protect them and their owners. More on that in a bit.

You may also have heard about a service dog. They, too, are considered assistance animals. They help people with physical and psychiatric disabilities by performing daily tasks. For example, a psychiatric service dog will get help when their owner has panic attacks. A seeing-eye dog guides someone with a visual impairment. There are so many types of service dogs out there!

However, keep in mind that a service dog and an emotional support dog are not the same!

Important Emotional Support Animal Laws

There are two ironclad federal laws protecting emotional support animals in the United States. They are concerned with housing and travel by airplane.

The first is the Fair Housing Act (FHA), which is regulated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. According to this law, ESAs and their owners can live together in rented housing.

Your landlord must accept your ESA and provide reasonable accommodation for them. This is done at no extra charge, meaning you don't have to pay a pet fee or any pet deposits. If your housing provider evicts you and your ESA, you can file a complaint, as that is infringing on your rights.

What About Air Travel?

The second is the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA). It states that you and your ESA can travel together on domestic and on some international flights. You won't need to pay any pet deposits or fees to the airline. Leave the flight anxiety at home and take your emotional support dog or cat with you!

The Air Carrier Access Act allows travelers to fly with their ESAs without paying pet fees. Read this if you are looking for an ESA Travel Letter.

The FHA allows tenants with mental or emotional disabilities to request a reasonable accommodation for their Emotional Support Animals. Read if you are looking for a housing letter.

To Have an Emotional Support Dog or Emotional Support Cat You Need an ESA Letter!

These two laws are awesome — but only if you have an ESA letter. So how can you get an emotional support letter? And who can write an ESA letter?

First things first, a licensed mental health professional must diagnose you with a mental disability or disorder listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). Only then can they issue you an ESA letter.

Once you have the letter, keep it somewhere safe and never lose it. This piece of paper gives you and your ESA a lot of rights. For example, an ESA letter for housing is required. If you don't have it, you can't live with your companion animal in a rented unit that has a no-pets policy!

detective esa dog wondering who can write an esa letter

Who Can Write an Emotional Support Letter?

Getting an ESA letter is very important if you want to have an emotional support dog or cat. Only licensed mental health professionals in your state are the ones who can write an emotional support letter.

There is no cutting corners here: if you don't get a licensed health professional to write you the letter, it won't be valid!

Everything you need to know about emotional support animal laws, requirements, and registration scams. Start you ESA Research here.

The 2 laws that matter: Fair Housing Act and Air Carrier Access Act explained for ESA owners.

You Need to Find a Licensed Mental Health Professional (LMHP)!

Now that you know who can write an ESA letter, it's time to find a licensed mental health professional. Keep in mind that you must find an LMHP who practices in your state. For example, if you live in Alaska, the mental health professional must be licensed to practice in Alaska.

The best way to find one is by doing research online. If you can't find one this way, try your luck with the white or yellow pages. They're somewhat out of fashion nowadays, but you may still get lucky!

Looking for an ESA?

The ESA Application process at CertaPet starts with a fast, free screening test that you can take right now. It takes only 5 minutes and shows if you may qualify for an ESA right away.

How CertaPet Helps People Get Their ESA Dog or Cat Letter

Should finding a licensed mental health professional be hard and stress-inducing? At CertaPet, we don't think so. This is why we make the whole process easier.

After taking our free 5-minute screening test, we will connect you with a mental health professional. They will be the ones assessing your mental state and issuing your ESA letter. Much easier, isn't it?

I Need a Doctor Note! You Can Ask a Doctor or Physician Too

There are doctors who can write an ESA letter, too. If you see your physician about your mental health problems, they can write a valid ESA letter for you. Next time you see them, bring this issue up. A doctor's note is enough.

Don't Trust Doctor Google! A Fake Doctor Means a Fake ESA Letter!

There's a big difference between a real doctor who knows your mental history and "Doctor Google." Don't trust every website you find claiming to issue ESA letters for a fee. These are scams!

Unfortunately, when looking up who can write an ESA letter, some people fall into these costly traps. Make sure you're not one of them!

Emotional Support Animal Registration for Sale? No!

small emotional support dog in bag of cash

No Need to Wonder "Who Can Write an ESA Letter?" CertaPet Has You Covered

Looking for a licensed mental health professional who can write an ESA letter and practice in your state is time-consuming — and boring! Luckily, CertaPet is here to do all the groundwork for you.

How to Get an Emotional Support Letter the Right Way!

Airlines and local authorities are cracking down on fraudulent assistance animal letters. Therefore, it's important to get your emotional support letter in the right way.

CertaPet makes the whole process easy. Start out by taking our 5-minute screening test for free. If you are eligible to become an ESA owner, a mental health professional will reach out to you. They are the ones who can write an ESA letter, which you will receive at home and in your email inbox.

And the best part? You will receive an electronic and physical copy of your ESA letter in as little as 48 hrs! Doing everything by the book doesn't have to be hard or time-consuming!

Common Questions on Who Can Write an ESA Letter

Are emotional support animals pets?

What are the benefits of having an ESA?

Why do I need an emotional support letter?

Where can I get an ESA letter?

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