How to Get an Emotional Support Animal Letter – The Official Way

Emotional and Mental health issues are extremely common and can be debilitating for those who suffer from them. From mild to moderate depression, anxiety, PTSD,  and OCD, the number of those struggling with mental health issues in the U.S and throughout the world is steadily increasing.

Over the counter treatments, cognitive therapy, counselling and prescribed medication are common ways to treat a wide array of mental health conditions but an increasingly popular treatment is through the use of an emotional support animal (ESA). These furry companions are there for their handlers at all times and provide critical comfort and support. They can alleviate feelings of loneliness and provide both emotional and physical intimacy through cuddles and judgement free listening.

Owners of prospective ESAs must be aware of the rising number of Emotional Support Animal Letter scams and ensure they go through the process in a legitimate and proper way. This blog will cover the process of obtaining a legal and valid Emotional Support Animal Letter.

First Steps To Getting an Emotional Support Animal

The process of obtaining an emotional support animal may seem complex and overwhelming, but the process is simple and straightforward. The first step should always be to consult a health professional who can confirm your need for an ESA. Any licensed medical professional can provide you with an Emotional Support Animal Letter to help treat you. The letter does not need to follow any specific format, but it is recommended that it be written by your health practitioner on their professional letterhead. The exact details included in the letter will be decided by the doctor and patient on a case-by-case basis. To get the ball rolling, reach out to your family doctor, therapist, or local mental health facility.

What is Included in an Emotional Support Animal Letter

While there is no proscribed form of ESA-letter, they commonly include the following information:

  • Health Practitioner License Number
  • Date of Issue
  • Signature of Health Practitioner
  • Confirmation that the ESA is necessary and helps alleviate your symptoms

The exact details of your mental or emotional state are not required to be included in the letter. Specific details of the animal and breed are not required. For example, it is not necessary for your health practitioner to specify the type of dog that you own.

Emotional Support Animal Letter and Registration

While registration of Emotional Support Animals is not legally required, many owners choose to do so voluntarily through Service Dog Certificates. This provides owners with a mobile ID compatible with digital wallets and certification documentation, which can be quickly presented to third parties such as landlords and business owners as proof of their animal’s status. Physical markers like collars and bandanas can also be helpful for owners of emotional support animals to avoid conflicts and allow members of the public to quickly recognize the animal’s registered status.

What are the Benefits of an Emotional Support Animal Letter and Registration

The main benefits of having an ESA-letter and other related documentation are increased public and private access in your day to day life.

Under the Fair Housing Act, as long as a person can provide proof that the animal is needed, they cannot be restricted, evicted, or charged due to having an emotional support animal. If an Emotional Support Animal is causing harm to owners or others, landlords are entitled to deny the request for access to Emotional Support Animals despite having a valid letter.

While out in public stores and shopping malls, many establishments choose to restrict access to pets. While note legally required, there are many stores that will make exceptions for those with emotional support animals on a discretionary basis.

Having an ESA letter also provides general comfort to their handlers in knowing that you have a loyal companion to help calm your nerves and ease your anxiety.

How do I Qualify for an Emotional Support Animal Letter?

To qualify for an ESA-letter, first and foremost, you must legitimately require the use of an emotional support animal to alleviate certain symptoms or provide you with general comfort and support. They are not to be abused or misused in order to gain access where pets are otherwise not permitted. As long as your licensed mental health professional provides you with a letter and are of the belief you would benefit from an Emotional Support Animal, you are eligible. Individuals suffering from the following conditions are commonly prescribed an emotional support animal:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • OCD
  • PTSD
  • Grief
  • Stress
  • Phobias

Emotional support animals can help alleviate symptoms resulting in:

  • Lower levels of stress
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Increased function in day-to-day life
  • Increased sense of purpose
  • Improved quality of sleep.

Do Emotional Support Animals require Training?   

Unlike service animals, emotional support animals do not require training in order to be valid. While dogs are easily trainable, any animal may technically be a legitimate emotional support animal including cats, rabbits, pigs birds and horses. Dogs and cats remain the most popular animal for emotional support animals.

One of the key distinctions between emotional support animals and service animals is that service animals must be trained to perform a specific tast to assist their handlers with a disability and are afforded protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Under the ADA, service animals are permitted in all areas of the public but this protection and right does not extend to emotional support animals even with a valid ESA-letter.

Emotional Support Animals and a Valid ESA-Letter can Change Your Life

If you’ve been struggling with mental health issues and you think an Emotional Support Animal can help you deal with your symptoms, you owe it to yourself to seriously consider obtaining an ESA-letter. Start your journey by reaching out to your doctor today.

Once you are ready, you may also consider voluntarily registering your emotional support animal with ServiceDogCertificates.