How to Get an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Letter in Atlanta, Georgia

An emotional support animal, or ESA, can offer immense comfort, support, and reassurance to individuals suffering from mental health disabilities. Whether you’re considering adopting an ESA or wish to give your current pet ESA status, you’ll need an ESA letter.

Getting an ESA letter can be time-consuming, but the process is worth it: ESAs are granted more legal protections than pets in Atlanta, including being exempt from pet deposits, pet fees, and breed restrictions. An ESA letter will also give you the right to live with your ESA no matter what the landlord’s policy is on animals.

What Is an Emotional Support Animal?

Emotional support animals are companions who provide symptom-relieving, therapeutic benefits to those with emotional or mental health disabilities. Through their presence, they offer comfort, companionship, and emotional support. ESAs can also provide a sense of security and help combat feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Caring for an ESA can even encourage owners to lead healthier and more sociable lives, both factors that studies have shown can help alleviate mental health symptoms.

Unlike service animals, ESAs are not required to undergo training or perform specialized, disability-related tasks. They’re considered distinct under the eyes of the law (and most organizations) and are therefore entitled to different legal benefits. Any animal can also become an ESA, including dogs, cats, birds, and even reptiles.

Who Can Qualify for an ESA in Atlanta, Georgia?

In Atlanta, Georgia, you must meet certain requirements to be eligible for an emotional support animal. You need to have a mental health disability that’s been diagnosed by a licensed mental health professional, and this disability must also be recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

Mental health conditions that qualify include (but are not limited to):

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Panic disorder

If you fulfill this criteria, you will need to get in touch with a mental healthcare worker licensed in your state to apply for an ESA letter. You’ll then need to demonstrate how an ESA can help you manage the symptoms associated with your disability and improve your quality of life.

At U.S. Service Animals, we understand that it can be stressful and overwhelming to arrange all this yourself, especially if you’re not familiar with state laws or how the ESA appointment works.

We can simplify this process and get you connected with a qualified mental health expert in Atlanta immediately, so do get in touch if you feel this additional support would be helpful.

What Are the Benefits of Having an ESA Letter in Atlanta, Georgia?

Having a valid ESA letter in Atlanta, Georgia grants additional legal protections that pets don’t receive.

For example, you will be allowed to live in housing that typically doesn’t allow pets — something which is unfortunately becoming increasingly common in Atlanta — and you’ll also be exempt from any pet fees and pet deposits. Breed restrictions and regulations also won’t apply.

Workplaces are not legally obligated to accommodate ESAs. However, many are willing to make reasonable adjustments if you have an ESA letter that details how having your ESA with you would make it easier to perform work-related tasks.

How to Get an Emotional Support Letter in Atlanta, Georgia

Getting an ESA letter in Atlanta requires you to book a consultation with a licensed mental health professional (LMHP), such as a therapist or psychologist, and be evaluated for your eligibility. The LMHP must be licensed to practice in Georgia.

During the appointment, the LMHP will ask several questions relating to your disability and need for an ESA. You’ll be expected to specify your symptoms and how an ESA can assist you with managing them.

For example, you can mention that the comfort an ESA provides can help disrupt intrusive thoughts. It’s also worth discussing the difficulties or legal barriers you’ll face without an ESA letter.

If the LMHP agrees that you would benefit from an ESA, they will then provide you with an ESA letter. The letter doesn’t need to go into detail about the specifics of your condition, but it will state that you have an emotional or mental health disability and that an ESA is necessary for your well-being.

For the ESA letter to be valid, it will need to be printed on official letterhead and also contain:

  • The issue date of the ESA letter
  • The LMHP’s medical license information (the number, type, and issue date), as well as the state they actively practice in.
  • The LMHP’s contact details and official signature
  • Your name and contact information

Obtaining an ESA letter can be a difficult, time-consuming process. It can be hard to find a therapist in your state who can provide an ESA letter and misinformation is rampant online.

Unfortunately, there are also many scams out there that claim to put your pet in an “official” ESA database for a fee. There is no official database for ESAs — the only way to have your ESA recognized is to obtain an ESA letter through an LMHP.

How to Get an Emotional Support Letter in Atlanta, Georgia With U.S. Service Animals

Our dedicated ESA letter service can simplify the process and help you avoid many of the difficulties that come with obtaining a letter:

  1. Request to book a free consultation with us via our website. You can also phone us at (985) 570-5388.
  2. Once you’ve made the request, we’ll book you in for a phone or live video appointment with a licensed mental health professional who practices in Georgia. You won’t have to pay for the service if you aren’t approved.
  3. You will need to discuss your disability with the mental health professional and they will inform you if you qualify. If you do, you’ll receive your ESA letter through email. You can then print this off and use it straight away.

What Are the Laws About ESAs in Atlanta, Georgia

Some cities and states do grant additional legal protections to Emotional Support Animals. Sadly, this isn’t the case for Atlanta, Georgia. Both the city and state do not recognize ESAs as working dogs, meaning your ESA won’t qualify for flight fee exemptions or public access rights. It also means employers aren’t legally obligated to accommodate your ESA.

However, ESAs in Atlanta, Georgia do receive all the legal protections laid out in federal law, including exemption from pet rent fees and breed restrictions.

Can I Fly With an ESA in Atlanta, Georgia

Emotional support animals were once protected under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA). This gave them the right to fly with their owners in the cabin at no additional cost.

However, in 2021, the Department of Transport (DOT) updated the ACAA to exclude ESAs. Now, only service animals trained to perform disability-related tasks receive these additional travel rights.

Without this legal obligation in place, most major airlines in the US have chosen not to accommodate ESAs. This means all the standard pet fees, restrictions, and regulations will apply when you travel.

Can I Live With an ESA in Atlanta, Georgia

The Fair Housing Act (FHA) is a federal law established to prevent discrimination in housing. It applies to all states and protects characteristics including race, religion, nationality, and disability. The FHA provides additional legal protections for ESAs as it recognizes that they provide immeasurable support for people with mental health conditions.

Under the Fair Housing Act, landlords can not discriminate against someone with an ESA and must accommodate their animal, regardless of any “no pet” policies in place. Landlords also can’t subject the individual to any pet-related fees, deposits, or restrictions (such as breed bans or size limits).

Do keep in mind that you will be expected to show your landlord a valid ESA letter. Without this letter, the landlord has no legal obligation to accommodate your animal — that’s why it’s so important to get an ESA letter prepared by a licensed mental health professional.

Remember that this doesn’t have to be a time-consuming process; our online ESA letter service at U.S. Service Animals is quick, reputable, and easy.

Can I Bring My ESA to Work With Me in Atlanta, Georgia

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is designed to protect individuals with disabilities against discrimination in all facets of public life, including the workplace.

However, the ADA does not recognize ESAs and they can’t be considered a reasonable workplace accommodation, even if you have a diagnosed mental health disability. Atlanta also hasn’t established any employment protections or public access rights for ESAs.

While there is no legal obligation for your employer to accommodate your ESA, many employers will be willing to if you explain your need for an ESA in the workplace and how it will allow you to work at your full potential. This is especially the case if your animal is well-behaved and won’t distract others.

If you wish to bring your ESA to work with you, you will need to set up an appointment with the human resources department and make a case through them.

What Exceptions Are There to ESA Laws in Atlanta, Georgia

While the Fair Housing Act does grant ESAs housing rights, there are some instances where these rights can be denied. These exceptions include:

  • Your animal exhibits aggressive or destructive behavior
  • Your animal endangers other tenants living in the building
  • The property can not reasonably accommodate your animal’s species, size, or weight (this is more for the animal’s wellness)
  • Pet fees don’t apply, but you will still need to pay for any property damage your ESA causes

Landlords of certain types of properties are also exempt from accommodating ESAs:

  • Owner-occupied buildings with four or fewer units
  • Single-family housing sold or rented independently without a real estate broker
  • Private clubs and religious organizations

Where Can You Take Your ESA in Atlanta, Georgia

Emotional support animals don’t receive public access rights in Atlanta, Georgia. However, there are plenty of businesses, spaces, and attractions that have chosen to accommodate ESAs of their own volition. Some of our favorite public places to take an ESA in Atlanta, Georgia include:

  • Crowne Plaza Atlanta – Midtown: This hotel situated in central Atlanta accommodates pets under 50 pounds. They’ll provide complimentary doggie treats, waste bags for your walks around the city, and plenty of affection whenever they see your pet. A $75 pet fee applies.
  • Fetch Park: This off-leash dog park has an open-air bar, meaning your pup can romp and play while you enjoy a beer with friends! There are plenty of dog-themed events held throughout the year and the park is open from 8 am to 9 pm (or 10 pm on Fridays and Saturdays). Do keep in mind that there are some pet rules in place though, including that dogs must be at least 4 months old.
  • Café Intermezzo – Midtown: This dog-friendly, Italian-style coffeehouse is famous for its delectable cakes, coffees, and pastries. The best part? It’s right next to Piedmont Park, another pet-friendly spot!

Important Facts About ESAs in Atlanta, Georgia

While ESAs are becoming increasingly prevalent, many people are still unaware of how they differ from service animals.

The main difference between an ESA and a service animal is that a service animal is specially trained to perform at least one disability-related task. In comparison, ESAs aren’t legally required to undergo any training and instead support their owners through their physical presence.

Any animal can also be legally recognized as an ESA, including dogs, cats, birds, and even reptiles, while only dogs and miniature horses can become service animals.

Here are a few more important facts about ESAs to be mindful of:

  • ESAs aren’t required to be certified or registered with a database — and these documents aren’t legally binding. The only way to have your animal legally recognized as an ESA is to obtain an ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional.
  • ESAs don’t require specific training, though to benefit from the FHA law they must be well-behaved, non-destructive, and non-aggressive.
  • There is no limit to how many ESAs you can have under your care. However, having several ESAs may make it difficult for landlords to reasonably accommodate you.

Get an Emotional Support Animal Letter in Atlanta, Georgia Today

dog sat on owner at cafe

Emotional support animals may not be trained to perform tasks, but their presence can offer invaluable support for people suffering from mental or emotional disabilities. The comfort, reassurance, and affection they provide can help ease symptoms and make their conditions easier to live with.

If you believe an ESA would help you better manage your condition, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team of experts at U.S. Service Animals. They’ll be able to guide you through the process of obtaining an ESA letter and connect you with an LMHP who practices in Georgia. You can schedule your risk-free consultation today.