Every animal owner knows the benefits of having a pet. A pet can help a person get out for their daily exercise and provide company. However, for those who have disabilities, support animals are a critical part of their life. Emotional support and comfort are provided by these pets allow a person with disabilities to get through daily obstacles that might compromise their quality of life. These animals are ESAs or emotional support animals.
What is an Emotional Support Animal?
An emotional support animal is going to need to be prescribed by someone who is licensed in the mental health profession. These animals are prescribed to people who have mental illnesses that interfere with everyday life. Therapists, psychiatrists, and psychologists can prescribe these animals. These doctors are going to decide whether or not an animal is needed to improve or stabilize a person’s mental health. For example, having a pet may help decrease a person’s anxiety levels and allow him or her to focus on daily life easier.
ESAs vs. Service Animals
Emotional support animals are not going to be service animals and they do not have the same rights as each other. Service animals are allowed in public areas whereas an emotional support animal is not. These ESAs are not able to go with their owners into malls or restaurants.
A service animal is defined as dogs that are trained to work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. This was defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act or the ADA. This act is the same act that states that ESAs are not service animals. However, some states have a broader definition when it comes to ESAs and service animals.
The main difference between the two is that in one case an animal has been trained to perform a task and/or job that is related directly to an individual’s disability. For example, a person is being alerted by their animal because they are hearing-impaired or guiding someone who has trouble seeing. These are acts that service dogs are going to do. Emotional support animals are going to cuddle on cue and do not qualify.
Legal Rights of ESAs
Emotional support animals are not service animals and they have different rights than service animals. The Fair Housing Act does include emotional support animals in the category of assistance animals. This means that people are not allowed to discriminate against the person or animal because they have a disability when they are obtaining a house. This means rules like no pets or size limitations, and even species bans are not applied to those who have an ESA. They also cannot be charged the normal pet deposits because their ESA must live with them.
The Air Carrier Access Act used to allow emotional support animals to fly with their owners in the cabin of a plane. However, the Act has been revised to no longer include emotional support animals. If you want to bring your animal in the cabin, it has to be able to qualify as a carry-on that can be stowed underneath your seat.
Otherwise, you can try and train your dog to be a psychiatric service animal (PSA) as this counts as a service animal, and only service animals are protected by the Air Carrier Access Act. Psychiatric service dogs are trained to perform tasks that aid their handlers with disabilities. For instance, a PSA might be trained to paw or lick a handler who experiences anxiety in order to help ground them. You can train a PSA yourself, but it may be beneficial to go through a training program. This is because it is legal for airlines to require you to fill out forms for service animals before permitting them aboard the plane. These forms often ask for the contact information of whoever trained your dog.
Emotional Support Animals in Pennsylvania
Many people suffer from mental illnesses and emotional disabilities. If this is you, you may be able to qualify for a Pennsylvania Emotional Support Animal or ESA.
Under federal law, only a licensed therapist or MD can tell you and assess your individual need for an ESA. If they feel you need an emotional support animal, they will then write a letter of recommendation. This is going to be the document that is going to certify your pet as an emotional support animal in Pennsylvania.
Benefits of Having a Pennsylvania ESA
Cats and dogs and many other animals qualify for emotional support animals. They help those with emotional disabilities by showing their owners affection, companionship, and love. In return, the person’s symptoms often lessen.
A Pennsylvania ESA does not require any special training to become an ESA.
How to Qualify for a Pennsylvania Emotional Support Animal
The qualifications are pretty straightforward. An individual is going to need to see their mental health professional and this professional will certify that you have a disability. After that, they will be able to write you a letter of recommendation. This letter will allow you to provide proof to a landlord.
If you qualify for an emotional support animal, you can begin registration for your animal online. You need to visit the USSA website to get started. This allows you to be one step ahead of the game when it comes to your animal.
Components of a Pennsylvania ESA Letter
Federal guidelines state that your letter of recommendation has to be written in the last year and have the doctor’s letterhead. This letter will also have information on it to help inform your landlord or anyone else of importance about your Pennsylvania emotional support animal. The letter will state the following:
- You are a current patient of the provider who has written this letter.
- You are being treated by this provider for emotional or mental disability.
- You are unable to do certain things in your daily life because of your disability.
- You will benefit from an emotional support animal and it is part of your treatment.
Various Disorders that Qualify a Person in Pennsylvania for an Emotional Support Animal
- Bipolar Disorder
- ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder)
- Gender Identity Crisis
- Cognitive Disorders
- Phobias and/or Fears
- Learning Disorders
- Sexual Disorder
Why is a Pennsylvania ESA Letter Necessary?
Your doctor will recommend you an ESA letter that will confirm your disability to others. The letter will be able to tell people
- You are under care at the current moment by a health professional.
- Confirm that you are unable to participate in certain activities due to your disability.
This letter is going to be handy for those who are
- Looking to buy or rent a home
- Those who have this letter can have their emotional support animals with them no matter where they go. This is part of the Federal Fair Housing Amendment. A disabled person has the right to live with their emotional support animal even in no-pets housing. The property is required to legally accept this support animal.