How to Get an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Letter in Phoenix, AZ

Emotional support animals can provide therapeutic benefits to those who suffer from mental health disabilities. Not only do they offer companionship and love, but they also help to reduce feelings of loneliness and can even improve one’s sense of self-worth.

Getting an ESA letter in Phoenix is worthwhile because it will allow you to live with your ESA anywhere, even in rentals that don’t allow pets. You will also be exempt from paying pet deposits, pet fees, or pet rent. If your animal provides you with relief from your mental health disability but you cannot afford to pay extra housing fees or are struggling to find housing that will accept your animal, then you should consider getting an ESA letter.

The process is simple. All you have to do is meet with a licensed mental health professional in Arizona who will determine your need for an ESA. If an ESA would be a worthwhile treatment for you, then they will write you an ESA letter.

In this article, we will share everything you should know about getting an ESA letter. We’ll highlight the differences between ESAs and service animals, explain the laws protecting ESAs and the rights ESAs have, and help you avoid ESA letter scams. Keep reading to learn about how to get an ESA letter in Phoenix, Arizona.

What Is an Emotional Support Animal?

Emotional support animals are animals that are prescribed by mental health specialists to patients who suffer from mental illness. These animals are seen as a necessary treatment for their mental illness as they can provide some sort of therapeutic benefit.

This benefit may be a decrease in feelings of loneliness, depression, or anxiety, for example. Emotional support animals can also provide motivation or a sense of self-worth since they rely on the patient to take care of them.

Emotional support animals are sometimes confused with service animals, but they are not the same and do not have the same rights. Service animals can only be dogs, whereas emotional support animals can be any domesticated animal that is legal to own (no tigers, sorry).

Service animals must undergo one to two years of intensive training whereas emotional support animals are not required to be trained at all. Throughout this article, we will explain both the privileges ESAs enjoy and the restrictions they face.

Who Can Qualify for an ESA in Phoenix?

To qualify for an ESA in Phoenix, one must have a mental disability. There is no definitive list of disabilities that do or don’t qualify. Instead, it is up to the discretion of a mental health professional in Phoenix to determine whether or not a patient’s symptoms necessitate an ESA.

With that in mind, some examples of mental health disabilities that commonly qualify for an ESA letter include PSTD, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, chronic stress, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder, and learning disabilities.

If you’d like to know whether or not you qualify for an ESA, USSA can connect you with a licensed mental health specialist in Arizona.

What Are the Benefits of Having an ESA Letter in Phoenix?

The main benefit of having an ESA letter in Phoenix has to do with housing. Under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), landlords in Phoenix must make reasonable accommodations for people with ESA letters. This means that landlords cannot deny housing to you because of your animal, and they have to let that animal live with you even if there is a no-pets policy in place.

Furthermore, whether pets are allowed in the rental or not, landlords cannot charge any deposits, rent, or fees for an ESA. Not only that, but emotional support animals are also exempt from weight, size, and breed limits.

Luckily, there are no banned breeds in the state of Arizona. However, it isn’t uncommon to come across apartments that don’t allow tenants to keep certain types of animals. With an ESA letter, you will be able to seek affordable housing in Phoenix without having to worry about whether or not your ESA can live there with you.

How to Get an Emotional Support (ESA) Letter in Phoenix

Getting an ESA letter is easier than you might think; all you have to do is speak with a licensed mental health professional in Arizona. If you qualify, the doctor will then write you an ESA letter.

Though the process itself is pretty easy, finding a therapist may not be. You have to find one that fits your budget, is in your area, and also is knowledgeable about your mental illness. USSA can take the guesswork out of things by connecting you with a mental health specialist who can assess your need for an ESA.

Another issue with obtaining an ESA letter is scammers. Scammers prey on vulnerable individuals who are desperate to keep their ESA by their side by selling fake ESA letters that have no legal credibility. These fake letters are useless in providing the benefits that you would get with a real ESA letter.

Luckily, a little bit of knowledge is all it takes to avoid a scam. A real ESA letter will always require a consultation with a licensed mental health professional and will be written by that professional on their letterhead. It will include their license number, type, and the date it was issued. It will also include the date the ESA letter was issued to you as well as the signature of the licensed mental health care provider who wrote it.

The contents of an ESA letter typically include an explanation that you have a mental condition qualifying for an ESA “prescription” or that an ESA is your recommended treatment. ESA letters often outline how an ESA can help you, the patient, live a more full lifestyle by reducing symptoms.

Your animal’s information might also be included in the letter but is not necessary. Your own information, including your name and any other details the mental health professional deems important, will be in the letter as well. Understanding what these letters contain will help you ensure you are not being scammed.

How to Get an Emotional Support Letter (ESA) in Phoenix With U.S. Service Animals

USSA can connect you with a licensed mental health professional who can determine your need for an ESA and even provide you with an ESA letter if you qualify. Our service is risk-free, meaning you don’t have to pay for a consultation if you don’t qualify for an ESA letter.  Let’s go over USSA’s process for getting you an ESA letter.

Step 1: Contact Us

Contact us to set up a risk-free consultation with a licensed mental health care professional in Arizona. You can do so by submitting your information online here or by calling us at (985) 570-5388. If you need your ESA letter fast, we can set up a consultation and possibly get you the letter within 24 hours of contact for an extra fee.

Step 2: Consultation

Attend a consultation with a licensed mental health care professional. We offer both phone and video consultations. You will discuss your disability and find out if you qualify for an ESA letter.

Step 3: Get Your ESA Letter

If you qualify, you will be sent your ESA letter immediately via email. You can then print it out and use it right away.

What Are the Laws About ESAs in Phoenix?

As we mentioned earlier, emotional support animals in Phoenix are protected by the Fair Housing Act, which ensures that ESAs can live anywhere with their owners. On a state level, Arizona laws follow federal guidelines.

However, some states have their own laws about ESAs; these laws often echo the FHA or add more provisions. In Phoenix’s case, there are no noteworthy local or state laws that affect ESA owners. Because of this, housing rights are one of the only benefits ESA owners receive. Let’s talk more about where ESAs are and aren’t allowed.

Can I Fly With an ESA in Phoenix?

In the past, emotional support animals were protected by the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA). This act allowed them in the cabins of airplanes. Unfortunately, the ACAA was changed to exclude ESAs. Now, if you want to travel with your ESA in the cabin of an airplane, you will not be able to do so without the airline’s express permission (which you are not likely to get).

Some airlines do allow small pets to travel in the cabin as carry-ons. They must be kept in an airline-approved carrier that fits either under the seat or in the passenger’s foot space. Larger pets are usually flown in the cargo hold. For either option, there will be a fee.

Can I Live With an ESA in Phoenix?

As we mentioned before, the Fair Housing Act requires landlords to provide reasonable accommodations to those with ESAs. As such, they must allow ESAs on the premises regardless of policies that prohibit pets or restrict them by breed, size, or species (an ESA must still be a domesticated animal that is legal to own).

They also must waive all pet-related fees and expenses associated with the housing. If you have an ESA letter, you do not have to pay extra pet rent or a pet deposit. Because an ESA is actually considered an assistance animal and not a pet, under the FHA, you cannot be charged extra for it.

In order to take advantage of the benefits provided by the Fair Housing Act, you need to make a formal request to the landlord explaining that you need to live with your ESA. Along with this request, you must include the ESA letter from your doctor.

Can I Bring My ESA to Work With Me in Phoenix?

Unfortunately, there are no laws in place that give ESA owners the right to bring their ESAs to their workplaces. Instead, the decision is left up to one’s employer. If the animal is well-behaved and can relieve itself in a sanitary manner, then some employers may be willing to allow the animal’s presence. However, there is no guarantee that an employer will allow an ESA because ESAs do not have any public access rights.

What Exceptions Are There to ESA Laws in Phoenix?

Though federal laws such as the Fair Housing Act provide ESAs with certain benefits and protections, there can be exceptions. For example, landlords can revoke housing rights if an animal has been aggressive or destructive.

Sometimes, they can even deny an ESA in general. The situations in which a landlord could deny housing to someone with an ESA include:

  1. It would cause them a financial burden.
  2. Your ESA poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others even when measures to eliminate or reduce such a threat are in place.
  3. Your request would alter the nature of their operations in a fundamental way.
  4. Your request would result in significant damage to others’ property regardless of any measures put in place to reduce or eliminate such a prospect.

It is also important to note that the FHA does not cover temporary lodgings such as hotels or Airbnbs. If a hotel is not pet-friendly, then unfortunately, your ESA cannot stay there with you.

Where Can You Take Your ESA in Phoenix?

The only legally guaranteed rights ESAs have are that of housing. This means that they do not have any public access rights and businesses can turn them away. However, that doesn’t mean there is absolutely nowhere in the city that you can take your ESA.

There are a lot of animal-friendly places like pet stores, parks, and even restaurant patios or breweries. If your ESA is a prey animal, you should be careful of where you bring it. A park that allows dogs may be dangerous; even if a park requires dogs to be leashed, unfortunately, many people ignore the rules.

Some dog-friendly haunts in Phoenix include Biltmore Fashion Park, Arizona Center, and Desert Ridge Marketplace. We’ve mentioned dogs specifically as they are the most commonly accepted animal at public venues. If your ESA is a different species, they may also be allowed at some of these dog-friendly venues, but you’ll want to call ahead.
chihuahua walks through a pet store

Important Facts About ESAs in Phoenix

There is a lot of important information to know about ESAs in Phoenix, Arizona. We’ve gathered together the most important facts to help you quickly and easily understand your rights and avoid scams.

  • ESAs help reduce the symptoms of mental disabilities by providing comfort, motivation, focus, and a sense of self-worth. For your pet to be legally deemed an ESA, you must be diagnosed with a mental disability and receive an ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional.
  • ESAs do not have to be dogs. They can be any animal that is domesticated.
  • ESAs are not service animals; they are not allowed in public places or in airplane cabins. Unlike service animals, ESAs are not required to be trained.
  • ESAs must be non-aggressive, non-destructive, and generally well-behaved. Landlords can deny accommodations to ESAs that pose a threat to the personal safety or property of others.
  • An ESA letter is required to receive housing benefits. ESA letters are only legally binding when
    written by a licensed mental health professional in the state of Arizona. The state of Arizona requires ESA letters to be less than a year old and to be written on the letterhead or the prescription pad of a licensed mental health professional.
  • ESA registrations and certificates are not the same as an ESA letter. They are not legally binding and cannot be given to landlords in Phoenix as proof of your need for an ESA. These registrations and certificates will not gain you the rights provided by the FHA.
  • ESAs are exempt from breed restrictions, size restrictions and weight limits, pet rent, pet fees, and pet security deposits. These exemptions apply both to housing accommodations and to state and city laws that restrict breeds.

Get an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Letter in Phoenix Today

Emotional Support Animals can bring comfort to those suffering from mental disabilities such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar disorder, and more. Finding companionship and unconditional love is very meaningful to many who struggle with their mental health.

ESAs can provide more structure, focus, and motivation in one’s life since animals require care. For some, caring for an animal even increases their sense of self-worth since they know that there is a being relying on them for survival.

An ESA letter will allow you to live anywhere with your ESA, even in rentals that don’t allow pets. Furthermore, you will be exempt from any pet fees a rental would usually charge.

If you have a mental illness, then you may be considering getting an emotional support animal (or getting a letter for a current pet). Schedule your risk-free consultation with USSA today and see if you qualify for an ESA letter.