Many myths exist about Emotional Support Animals (ESAs). People need to know the actual facts about who can own them, what they are for, where they can go and what they do. There is plenty of information about them online. But much of it is inaccurate and misleading.
ESAs provide comfort to people with diagnosed mental and emotional disabilities.
For example, an individual suffering from depression may find an ESA provides a sense of purpose and something to live for.
Also… someone suffering from panic attacks or anxiety may find it calming and comforting to have an ESA.
I founded a groundbreaking and therapist recommended video course called The Anxiety Cure.
I love sharing tools to help people to live their calmest and happiest lives.
With this mind, I created this article to encourage you to learn the facts on Emotional Support Animals.
So read on to gather helpful information so you can learn to separate fact from fiction when it comes to ESAs.
Not everyone qualifies for an ESA. A licensed mental health practitioner has to evaluate your mental health and issue a letter that legitimizes your ESA. The therapist must believe that the animal will provide you with emotional support and psychological benefits. Your letter won’t hold up in a court of law if it isn’t approved and signed by a qualified, licensed mental health professional.
The companies like ESA Pet or Pettable can supply you with a legitimate ESA letter in California. You take a short confidential assessment and have a telehealth appointment with a licensed mental health practitioner in your state. If you’re a suitable candidate, you will receive your letter in 24 hours.
ETAs are not service animals. Service animals are highly trained to perform specific functions for individuals with a physical or psychological disability. ESAs aren’t trained to perform any specific tasks.
Service animals have to undergo tests and become certified before qualifying. The tasks they perform enhance the ability of the disabled person to live independently and participate fully in society. Service animals have many legal rights in the U.S. in large part due to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). An ESA is not recognized by law as a service animal.
You can live with your ESA in a building that doesn’t permit pets.
The Fair Housing Act permits you to have an ESA, but you do need an ESA letter from a mental health practitioner that states that you need one.
Your ESA doesn’t have special rights in public areas like service dogs. You can’t take an ESA into a grocery store or restaurant that isn’t pet-friendly.
It is not like a service animal that can accompany an owner into spaces open to the public like museums, theatres, schools, and restaurants.
In March 2021, new rulings by the Department of Transport in the U.S. rolled back protections for emotional support animals, and airlines now have the option of deciding whether or not they allow ESAs on their flights. Before this, the Air Carriers Access Act that prohibits discrimination against passengers with disabilities meant you could fly with an ESA at no extra charge as long as you had the appropriate documents.
The new rule has resulted in many domestic airlines not accepting ESAs in the cabin. They may still accept ESAs under a certain weight for a fee. If you are hoping to travel with your ESA, you should contact a carrier before booking your flight to learn more about the airline policies and possible restrictions for an ESA. International airlines flying to other countries usually still permit you to fly with an ESA.
It is not obligatory for your ESA to wear a vest, and you do not have to “certify” or “register” it. You may come across online sites that offer certification or registration services for ESAs, but they are simply trying to make money off your lack of knowledge.
All you need is a letter to prove the ESAs special status.
You can get such a letter if a medical health practitioner believes that animal companionship would benefit you.
Most ESAs are simply pets before someone obtains an ESA letter.
There are no legal or valid certifications or training requirements for ESAs. A letter stating the need is all that’s required under the law.
Separating fact from fiction isn’t always easy when it comes to ESAs. There are fraudsters who try to exploit owners of ESAs with fake information. One myth is that ESAs need to be registered. It is a misconception that anyone can get an ESA. Only people with an emotional or mental disability diagnosed by a mental health practitioner can get an ESA letter. Another common myth is that an ESA is the same as a service animal when the two are very different. Hopefully, the above information will make you more informed about ETAs, where they’re allowed to go and their legal status.
Join my therapist recommended video course: The Anxiety Cure.