By now, most people are familiar with working animals such as therapy and service dogs. Therapy dogs go into hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and other places to help a group of people feel better emotionally. Service dogs are trained to perform tasks that assist one disabled individual.
Unfortunately, fewer people are familiar with Emotional support animals (ESAs), even though these animals can be just as life-changing for those who need them. These animals can offer emotional support for individuals suffering from depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other emotional and psychiatric disorders. In addition to emotional support and mental health, ESAs can provide companionship to those suffering from chronic pain and limited mobility.
In this guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about ESAs and how to make any animal you already live with and love an ESA.
What Is an ESA?
Emotional support animals are any animal that has been prescribed to provide support and companionship to individuals who suffer from emotional and mental disabilities. Unlike service animals, they don’t have to be trained to perform specific tasks. Instead, their presence alone is enough to make them be considered medically necessary to their handler.
Who Can Qualify for an ESA?
Anyone who has a diagnosed mental health or emotional disorder can qualify for an ESA. These disorders include (but are not limited to):
- Panic disorder
- Bipolar disorder
- Addiction recovery
- Eating disorders
- Social anxiety
If you think you may benefit from an ESA, don’t hesitate to find out if you qualify.
What Are the Legal Benefits of Having an ESA?
Emotional support animals are guaranteed housing rights by the Fair Housing Act (FHA) without standard associated pet fees. ESAs are also exempt from breed or weight restrictions, and you cannot be charged pet rent, pet fees, or pet deposit for an ESA.
Do ESAs Have the Same Rights as Service Animals?
ESAs do not have the same public rights as service animals. This means that there are places service animals are allowed that ESAs may not be, such as a library or on a plane with you free of charge. However, both ESAs and service dogs have the same housing rights.
Can I Make an Animal I Already Own an ESA?
Absolutely! If your licensed mental health practitioner believes your animal aids your well-being, then you can have them write a prescription label to classify your animal as an ESA legally.
What Kind of Animal Can Be an ESA?
Unlike service or therapy animals, emotional support animals do not have to be dogs. ESAs can be dogs, cats, birds, reptiles, and other types of animals.
Different animals can offer support to many different kinds of people. Some might prefer the benefit of an emotional support dog, especially since a dog needs physical activity and care. A dog might encourage an individual with depression to walk more, but some people suffer from limited mobility and might find the companionship of a cat more suitable.
Birds can be very talkative and affectionate companions who form lifelong bonds with their owners. Reptiles can require meticulous and specialized care, providing a mental distraction and escape from the stress and suffering from disorders. Offering different types of animals that require a diverse range of care offers options to people with unique conditions and needs.
How Can I Make My Animal an Emotional Service Animal?
Making an animal you already live with an ESA can be a fairly simple process. To obtain housing rights for your emotional support animal, you need a licensed mental health professional’s letter, and US Service Animals makes it easy to receive one, if you qualify.
How Do I Find Out If I Qualify for an ESA?
If you would like to see if you qualify for an evaluation with one of our mental health clinicians, please call (985) 242-7207 or email [email protected]. Our mental health experts can do a consultation via telephone to see if you qualify for an emotional support animal. If they determine that you suffer from a condition defined in DSM-V and you are approved, we can deliver your letter via email, sometimes as soon as the same day.
Do I Need to Train My Emotional Support Animal?
ESAs do not have to be trained to perform any tasks that help with disabilities, but they should have good social manners. A landlord can deny an ESA’s housing rights if they are aggressive or destructive, so you’ll want to ensure they’re trained to be peaceful and non-destructive.
Will My Animal Need an ESA ID Card?
Many like to supplement an emotional support animal letter with an ID card and certificate for visual and easily accessible identification, even though they are not legally required. An ESA letter is enough to legally ensure housing rights, but ID cards and certificates can help calm disputes and even stop noisy neighbors from asking why you were allowed to have your animal live with you.
Will I Need to Register My Animal as an ESA?
Registering your animal as an ESA isn’t legally necessary, but it can offer additional proof to your landlord that your ESA was prescribed through a legitimate service. If you would like to be registered in our database and receive a picture ID for your animal, you can register your animal as an Emotional Support Animal through our website.
Make Your Animal an ESA Today
If you live with a mental or emotional disorder and feel your animal is helping calm your symptoms, then it’s worth having them made an emotional support animal. ESAs get extra legal protection and support, so you can trust that you’ll always be allowed to live with your best friend. With US Service Animals, this process is fast, stress-free, and budget-friendly, so don’t hesitate to reach out today.