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difference between emotional support and therapy animal Emotional Support Animals, often shortened to ESA, are very different from Therapy Animals. But they are often easy to confuse. So we've gathered a collection of Frequently Asked Questions about the common misconceptions associated with the difference between emotional support and therapy animals.

Is a therapy animal the same thing as an emotional support animal?

No. Although the names of the two may lead you to believe they are the same, therapy animals and emotional support animals are two very different classes of animals with different roles and legal status.

What are therapy animals used for?

Therapy animals are companions that are brought to a specific location to help people cope with things going on in their lives. Most commonly, they visit places like hospitals retirement homes, nursing homes, and schools.

When not providing this service, therapy animals are just like any other pet.

What is the role of a therapy animal’s handler?

Unlike an emotional support animal handler, the handler of a therapy animal does not actually suffer from emotional distress him or herself. Instead, a therapy animal handler is merely responsible for bringing their pet to specific locations and facilitating their animal’s interaction with the people there.

What sort of training or certification does a therapy animal need?

A therapy animal does not need any training and, unlike emotional support animals, does not even require much certification. In most cases, as long as the animal is friendly towards people and has the right disposition, it can qualify as a therapy animal.

Are therapy animals allowed in places like airplanes or apartments with no pet policy?

No. While emotional support animals CAN accompany their handler on planes, in apartments that don’t normally allow animals, and some other locations, therapy animals do not have this privilege. Because they don’t offer recognized medical help to their handler, nor are they prescribed by a licensed physician, therapy animals are treated just like any other pet in most places.

Some states do provide minor rights to therapy animals and their handlers, but it is not nearly as comprehensive as the freedoms enjoyed by emotional support animals.

register dog as emotional support animal

 

Do therapy animals and emotional support animals both have to be registered?

While both animals must be registered to begin providing care, the registration process is very different. For a therapy animal, the handler must simply fill out an application, prove that the animal is healthy and pass a brief safety assessment.

When it comes to emotional support animals, the process is more comprehensive. Because emotional support animals provide medical care to their handlers, the handler must be prescribed an emotional support animal by a licensed mental health care professional.

Although it may sound like a lot of work, we offer this service cheaply and easily on our website by putting in touch with one our of licensed professionals over the phone. That way, you can get your animal registered as an emotional support animal without having to schedule an appointment or even leave the home.

Can therapy animals act as emotional support animals, and visa versa?

Yes. Although for a therapy animal to become an emotional support animal, he/she would have to go through the same process (along with the handler) of any other animal. Simply being a therapy animal does not ensure that that particular handler’s path gaining an emotional support animal is any easier.

Can any animal be an emotional support animal and/or therapy animal?

In both cases, many kinds of animals can play the role of both emotional support or therapy animal. While the vast majority of in both cases are dogs, other animals such as cats, pigs, birds, and more, can qualify. As long as the animal is clean, safe, and friendly enough around people to provide emotional support or therapy, they can be considered for both roles.

Are therapy animals required to display any identification when they are out in public?

No, it’s important to remember that when a therapy animal is not specifically engaged in duties at a location (hospital, school, etc), it is considered just like every other pet.

Are emotional support and therapy animals considered pets?

While therapy animals are pets that provide help to people on the side, emotional support animals are NOT pets. Emotional support animals provide a necessary service to their handlers who suffer from emotional and mental disabilities. This is why emotional support animals, and not therapy animals, can legally accompany their handlers in many locations like airplanes and inside apartment complexes that normally have a “no pet” policy.

Posted in ESA Blog By ESA

ESA Rights in California

Tuesday, August 1, 2017 1:35:19 PM America/Los_Angeles

Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) have become a popular source of healing for people all over the country. This is in large part because of the proven ability to ease the suffering from emotional challenges. Although ESAs are cheaper and safer than prescription medication, it has taken some time for them to be properly recognized in the United States.

ESA Rights in California

Things have gotten better recently, as the Americans with Disabilities Act paved the way for more protection to people with these challenges. Today, ESAs are recognized and protected by the Federal Government, and allowed to accompany their handlers in the cabin of airplanes at no extra cost to the patient. As with many laws in the U.S., some rules can vary by state. While the ADA takes the first step in protecting people across the board, some states go the extra mile to make things even easier. If you’re lucky enough to live in California, your rights as the handler of an ESA may be even more broad. Remember, when the state and Federal laws don’t coincide exactly, whichever offers greater protection to the patient usually applies. So let’s go over ESA Rights in California and what that means for you.

The best thing about the ESA Rights in California is that in addition to free travel on airlines, ESAs are allowed in some other places as well. Thanks to the state’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), Tenants in California have the right to keep an ESA in their home, regardless of the rental unit’s rules about animals in general. Furthermore, the landlord can NOT charge the tenant an extra fee for keeping an ESA. California is a state where housing is hard to come by, especially for people that care for animals. This rule makes it easier for people challenged with emotional issues to comfortably live their lives without fear of losing their home.

ESA Rights in California

California again goes the extra mile when it comes to ESAs in the workplace. At the Federal level, emotional support animals are NOT guaranteed access to a patient’s place of business. But FEHA ensures that any business in the state with 5 or more employees must make accommodations for people with an ESA. The rule isn’t completely overreaching though. While many species qualify as an ESA, only dogs are recognized and ESAs that will be allowed in the workplace. Furthermore, the state makes clear that the ESA dog must be well trained, clean, certified to provide assistance for a disability.

Employers are within their rights to request proof of an ESA’s status. Even if your dog does in fact provide you with emotional support, you must have proper certification and documentation for employers to recognize. The same may also be true for air travel and house leasing, so it’s important to go through the proper channels and get your companion certified.

Finally, in general, ESA rights in California assumes a broader approach to defining emotional support animals in the workplace than the Federal government does. According to California law, one only need to be “limited” by a disability to qualify for the use of an ESA. The Federal law states that one must be “substantially limited” to qualify. While this seems like a minor difference in language, the Federal statutes can be interpreted in a way that would prevent people with several types of challenges, like depression, to be prevented from accessing their ESA’s support at work.

As always, we encourage everyone who has or is thinking of getting an ESA to be as educated as possible about the law. Remember that in many cases, when it comes to ESAs, the law is on your side!

Posted in ESA Blog By ESA

The Simple Steps to Getting an Emotional Support Animal

Tuesday, July 11, 2017 1:48:38 PM America/Los_Angeles

getting an emotional support animal

Perhaps the most asked questions we get from our clients is what is involved with getting an emotional support animal, and what are the steps in getting a dog certified as an emotional support animal? Today, many people know that emotional support animals are an option for people with specific mental and emotional challenges. However, the process of certifying one’s animal, and what to do next, is still unknown to most.

This is the reason we started ESA Registration of America in the first place – we were frustrated by how many of our friends and loved ones struggled to get the emotional support they needed and we wanted to offer a way to keep up to date with all ESA laws and info. Whether you already have an animal that you want to register as an emotional support companion, or you’d like to learn about getting an emotional support animal, we want the process to be easy and ironclad.

So how do you register your dog as an emotional support animal? It’s actually a simple process that you can do right on our website!

First, and most importantly, after registering you need to get a prescription letter from a licensed mental health professional. Although this may sound daunting, rest assured. On our website, we connect our clients with licensed, respected members of the mental health community directly over the phone. Simply fill out an onboarding form on our site sharing a bit of information, and one of our doctors will call you for a private over-the-phone diagnosis.

Once you’ve been approved for a prescription, our therapist will email you an official emotional support animal letter. This ESA letter is your prescription to legally use an emotional support animal in your home and when flying. While we do offer other services, such as emotional support dog registration and access to our emotional support dog kit, it is this prescription letter that is the most important thing you’ll need. Per the law, ESA travel leaders need to be renewed annually. However, ESA housing letters do not.

It’s important to remember that this ESA letter belongs to YOU, not your animal companion. That means that you don’t need to get a new one if you get a new animal. It applies to any and all companions that provide you with emotional support.

Once you’ve been diagnosed by one of our mental health professionals and received your free ESA letter, we will automatically enter your companion into our emotional support dog registry. This nationwide registry contains all of your animal’s information so that if you ever find yourself without proper identification (or if your animal’s status is challenged by someone) you can easily and quickly provide proof. Our clients have found this service to be especially useful, given the amount of misinformation about emotional support animals by the general public.

getting an emotional support animal

And that’s pretty much all you need to start your new life with an emotional support animal! We also provide additional material on our site, such as literature, emotional support and service dog supplies, and updates on the latest legal changes throughout the country. Most importantly, we’re here for our clients. From the time you decide that getting an emotional support animal is right for you, to when you actually register your companion, and beyond, our website is a service we encourage you to keep coming back to for updates and support.

Posted in ESA Blog By ESA

Uncovering the Amazing Benefits of Emotional Support Animals

Friday, May 5, 2017 12:00:00 AM America/Los_Angeles

benefits of emotional support animals

 

By now, many people are becoming aware of the proven benefits of emotional support animals (ESA). An emotional support animal provides help to people with a variety of noticeable and not so noticeable mental and emotional disabilities. These can include stress, depression, anxiety, personality disorders, social anxiety disorders, and much more.

In our society, traditionally, most of these issues are dealt with through a combination of prescription medication and therapy. These approaches are not only expensive but can be unhealthy and lead to dangerous addictions. Furthermore, many people can’t even access them if they don’t have enough insurance.

We want everyone who suffers from emotional and mental health problems to be able to have access to the care they deserve. That’s why we have made it easy and stress free to get an ESA prescription and an ESA letter online.

When your disability is preventing you from holding a job, visiting friends and family, or even simply going outside, you shouldn’t have to worry about how to get an emotional support dog or other animal. We know that the first step is the hardest, so we’ve made it as easy as possible.

benefits of emotional support animals

Once you’re on our site you simply fill out a brief online form. We never share this information with anyone else. After the form is filled out, one of our licensed mental health professionals will call you and conduct a brief over-the-phone assessment. In most cases, that is all you need to qualify for an ESA certification. We then provide you with a signed ESA letter online. You can print out as many copies as you need and always access it on our website.

And that’s all you need to qualify for an emotional support animal! When you receive an ESA letter you are breaking free of expensive medication and ongoing therapy, as well as enjoying the many other benefits of emotional support animals. ESAs, in many cases, provide the care their handlers need to forgo other forms of medication. This leaves you healthier, happier, and with more money in your pocket.

Once you’ve gotten an ESA letter online on our website, spend some time checking out the rest of our site. It would be irresponsible for us to simply provide you with a prescription and send you on your way without making sure your educated about your rights. You can access ESA letter examples, purchase ESA supplies, enter our emotional support dog registry that keep up to date with the laws surrounding emotional support animals.

While ESA’s are protected under several federal laws, specifics can vary between states. It’s important for you, as a responsible handler, to know what your rights are wherever you are – especially if you plan on traveling. We hope you enjoy this next step in your life and take full advantage of everything emotional support animals have to offer you!

Posted in ESA Blog By ESA

Obtaining an ESA Letter - ESARA's Simple Process

Saturday, April 15, 2017 12:00:00 AM America/Los_Angeles

american pet registry

 

Emotional support animals provide an invaluable service to millions of people who suffer from emotional disabilities. We’ve heard from so many people about how they think they would benefit from an ESA, but don’t know where to begin. The first thing to know is that to legally own an ESA, a patient must have gone through an evaluation and get an ESA doctor’s note from a licensed mental health professional. Because people don’t always know how to access a therapist for an emotional support animal letter, we make that service available through our website.

Our simple, 5-step process for obtaining an ESA letter sets you on your way to emotional wellbeing without even having to leave the house. First, you simply choose which letter your lifestyle requires. We offer ESA letters for housing, ESA letters for flying, or a letter that covers both.

Once you’ve chosen which doctor’s letter is right for you, you can easily purchase an assessment through our site.  If you need a note from a doctor urgently, you can even opt to have the letter rushed to you within 48 hours. For some people, this might mean the difference between missing a flight and/or losing an apartment.

After you’ve purchased the letter that works for you, you’ll fill out a brief online therapy assessment. Anyone who receives on ESA doctor’s note will first have to have this form evaluated. Regardless of your personal situation, anyone suffering from emotional distress will be looking at the same ESA letter requirements.

Once you’ve filled out the form, it will be sent to one our licensed mental health professionals for review.  You will then be able to schedule an over-the-phone session with our doctors. They will determine your specific needs and, at their discretion, write a legal prescription for an emotional support animal.

Remember, mental and emotional disabilities take many forms and are not always easily identified by non-professionals. Anxiety, depression, panic attacks, difficulty maintaining relationships, and developing irrational fears are just some of the MANY ways that these disabilities can manifest themselves. It’s important to be as honest with our doctors as you can.

Finally, you will receive a copy of the official ESA letter for housing, flying, or both. This letter can be shown to a landlord or airline to protect your rights as someone who suffers from an emotional disability. It’s really as simple as that! No need to leave the house, schedule an appointment through your healthcare provider, or be grilled face-to-face by a doctor you’ve never met.

No one, let alone someone with emotional or mental health challenges, should be caused stress in the process of getting the help they need. We've made the process of obtaining an ESA letter as easy as possible for our clients. You’ll find that with our service, you will be on your way to a happier life in a matter of hours.

obtaining an ESA letter

Posted in ESA Blog By ESA

Florida Emotional Support Animal Laws

Wednesday, April 12, 2017 12:00:00 AM America/Los_Angeles

Florida Emotional Support Animal Laws

Like all other 49 states, Florida Emotional Support Animal Laws are bound by the Americans with Disabilities Act in regards to service dogs and ESAs. This means that an individual with a certified emotional support animal can fly with their companion in the cabin of an airline and should also be allowed to live in a housing unit that doesn’t otherwise allow animals. In both cases, the patient cannot legally be charged extra money to bring their ESA with them.

The ADA lays out the minimum level of protection that all states must abide by. Some more progressive states have laws in place to provide added protections to people with emotional disabilities. Other states have not taken any steps, either consciously or unconsciously, to address the needs of emotionally challenged people in their ranks. This doesn’t mean that you live in a state with less regulations you aren’t protected – it just means that the degree to which you are can vary. Florida is a good example of a state the following the letter of the law without going out of its way to provide much support on the ground.

Two recent developments in Florida Emotional Support Animal Laws have made things a bit more challenging for a handler of an emotional support animal. The first has to do with homeowners associations and condominium associations – of which Florida has quite a few. Several stories have come out recently about HOA’s and CA’s making it very difficult for people with emotional support animals to exercise their right to care. While the associations are not technically breaking the law, many have found ways to make it especially difficult for ESA handlers to have their case heard.

At the same time, the state legislature has slapped an added fine on anyone who lies about the status of their emotional support animal or service dog. While we strongly condemn anyone lying about the status of their pet for special treatment, there is a fear that people will question ANYONE who cannot provide immediate proof of their animal’s status. This can lead to discrimination and potentially unfair treatment of legitimately disabled people. The last thing we want is for a stigma to be attached to ESA’s in general.

It should be noted that the legislature did at the same time include an added fine on entities that knowingly discriminate against ESA or service animals, so there is hope that protections will be kept in place.

Florida is not alone in the level of support it provides to patients and emotional support animals. While a lot of progress has been made in recognizing the value of ESA’s, there is still a ways to go in bringing all state laws up to speed. The best way to do that is to continue to educate people on a local level about the real consequences of emotional disabilities and the real value of emotional support animals. We encourage all of our clients to educate themselves as much as possible so that they can in turn act as advocates for emotional disability themselves.

Florida Emotional Support Animal Laws

Posted in ESA Blog By ESA

Emotional Support Animal Harness - What Everyone Should Know

Saturday, April 8, 2017 12:00:00 AM America/Los_Angeles

For millions of Americans, emotional support animals (ESAs) help them navigate the world while dealing with emotional and/psychological challenges. These animal companions are not pets – they are certified and protected as a necessary form of treatment for people with a variety of disorders. Emotional support animals can only be prescribed by a certified mental health professional.

On our site, people in need of an ESA can easily and quickly be evaluated and have their animal registered. Because emotional support animals are a daily part of the lives of the people who use them, we also sell a variety of ESA supplies and ESA gear. While it is your right as the handler of an emotional support animal to take him/her with you to a variety of locations, it is important to remember that your animal must still be under your constant control at all times.

With that in mind, perhaps the most important piece of ESA equipment for any handler is the semotional support animal harness. These items ensure that your ESA is under control, safe, and secure at all times.  It’s important that you, as the handler, are aware of how and when to use them. Please note that an emotional support animal harness and emotional support animal vest are the same thing and we will be using both words interchangeably.

First and foremost, when ordering from our website, make sure you choose the right size for your ESA. For your convenience, our harness and vest come in every size from XXS through XL, ensuring that no matter the size of your companion, we have equipment that will fit. Simply measure around the widest part of the ribcage to determine the size of your ESA, and then choose from the chart on our website. Remember, the right harness should be snug enough to fit securely around your ESA.  Too tight, and the animal will be uncomfortable and unable to perform duties. Too loose, and he/she can get free of your control.

Emotional support animals can accompany their handlers in a variety of locales where non-certified animals are not allowed. This includes in airports, in the cabin of airplanes, and even in apartments that don’t normally allow pets. However, when taking your ESA into public, he/she must ALWAYS be under your firm control.  If your ESA is not secured with a harness or leash, officials at airports or other public locations can demand that the animal be removed.

We also strongly encourage handlers to clearly identify their companion as a certified emotional support animal. While not the law, we’ve found that it greatly eases stress when you’re not constantly being asked about your ESA’s status. For this reason, our harness and vest come with available patches that make it clear to anyone what your animal’s role is.

We encourage all our clients, after registering their ESA with us, to make sure they have the proper equipment on hand. Having an emotional support animal harness or vest that properly fits your ESA will not only protect you from potential lawsuits, it will ensure that your companion is comfortable and can stay focused on their job – keeping you healthy!

emotional support animal harness

Posted in ESA Blog By ESA

An Interview with One of our ESA Therapists

Saturday, April 1, 2017 12:00:00 AM America/Los_Angeles

Name

Liz Thompson.

 

What is your professional background?

I am currently a Licensed Marital and Family Therapist who works with adolescents in an inpatient residential mental health hospital. Those kids are currently working on dealing with anger and depression issues. I have also worked with couples and individuals in need of therapy in outpatient, office-based therapy.

 

What do you enjoy about your job?

I enjoy the variety each day and love to get to know others better. I enjoy being able to see them grow and recognize their own accomplishments, empowering them to continue their growth on their own.

Emotional Support Animals letters have been a wonderful addition to my practice as it gives me the opportunity to speak with others about how their pets are able to help with stressors in their lives.

 

What are the steps to get an ESA Evaluation?

When looking at the steps for and Emotional Support Animal (ESA Evaluation), the individual would need to go online to ESAregistration.org and place an order for what they feel best describes covers their needs. They will fill out pre-screening information online as well. Once they book online, an ESA evaluator will contact them at the time they have requested and will talk them through  up to a 20 minute phone call to determine if that person meets criteria for an ESA.

 

ESA evaluationWhat can a person expect during an ESA Evaluation?

During the phone call with the mental health professional, the client can expect to review some of their pre-screening information over the phone as well as answer self-report questionnaires about generalized anxiety and depression symptoms. The evaluator will be able to tell you by the end of the phone conversation if you meet criteria.

It is important for the client to have those 20 minutes set aside so they can concentrate on their responses. It is also important for the client to recognize that we may be asking some sensitive information, and that they may not want to be in a public area while answering those questions. The client may qualify for the ESA letter should they present with significant symptoms of anxiety or depression that is limiting to one or more daily life activity.

It would be beneficial for the clients to understand not all people may qualify as it is based on self-reported symptoms. I encourage clients to know this prior to the assessment, as it is not automatic that one should qualify simply because they have an assessment completed.

 

What type of ESA letters are offered on the site?

For the letters themselves, should the client wish to have a Travel and Housing Letter combined, and they find they qualify for the letter, the mental health professional will send a single letter with both described in the one letter. Although the criteria and assessments are the same for either letter, some may find they only need one rather than both. They can purchase the letter which they find they are needing the most. The Housing letter never expires and does not need to be renewed. For those who request and qualify for the Travel letter, they would need to renew annually, and the dates of that letter are good from one year to the day of the phone assessment.

 

How is the ESA Letter delivered to the client?

ESA EvaluationUpon completion of the phone assessment, the mental health professional will email the letter in pdf format within 24 hours to the email address the client provided on their pre-screening information. This letter may be printed out and used immediately. Should the client not qualify, the mental health professional will send a follow-up email with information on how to contact a local mental health therapist.  Some people requesting Travel Letters also find later that they need an additional letter filled out, by the mental health professional, from the airline. This does not apply to everyone and we encourage the client to check with the individual airlines of their choosing to see if they need this "Reasonable Accommodation Form" from the airline. If this is necessary, the client may contact ESA to pay for processing the form. Again, not every airline requires this, so check before you fly.

 

Posted in ESA Blog By ESA

Emotional Support Animals in New York

Tuesday, March 28, 2017 12:00:00 AM America/Los_Angeles

emotional support animals in New York

As the medical community has begun to recognize the value of emotional support animals, people all over the country that suffer from emotional challenges have been freed suffering when out in public. Thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act, ESA’s can accompany a patient onto the cabin of an airplane and in a rental unit that does not otherwise allow animals on the property. Furthermore, in both cases, the airline and landlord are not allowed to charge the patient an extra fee for the use of an ESA.

The ADA is a Federal law and the ruling applies to everyone in the United States. However, as with many of our laws, the details can very across state lines. While some states may go just far enough to respect the law, others can go the extra mile to provide added protections. In the case of emotional support animals in New York State, there are some added protections in place for handlers of ESAs. However, it’s also important to remember that some aspects of the laws for emotional support animals in New York are a bit vague and therefore open for interpretation.

emotional support animals in New York

First, don’t forget that no matter what you are told, certified ESA’s are legally allowed to accompany you on an airline or housing unit. That law is solid anywhere in the country. Additionally, New York does have some added protections in place for ESA’s in the workplace, but this is where things get tricky. New York does not recognize ESA’s as service dogs, so at first glance it would seem they are not protected within the work place. HOWEVER, state and federal law do require that employees with a disability be properly accommodated by the employer.

In the case of certified and registered emotional support animals in New York, it means that a mental health professional has recognized your disability and signed off on your need for emotional support. You can take this certification to your employer with the claim that your ESA is a reasonable accommodation for your recognized disability. At this point, the employer may be required to allow your ESA at work. Keep in mind that this aspect of the law is not as fleshed out as in some other states. Every employer is different, and while some may happily accommodate the law, others may see the open-ended nature of the language as an opportunity to ignore your request.

However the law is going to be interpreted, it’s essential for your emotional support animal to be properly certified and registered. Without certification, you won’t have any recourse against an airline, employer, or landlord, that decides to deny your right to emotional well-being. Stay up to speed with the current state and Federal laws, because they can change quickly and without warning. If you’re ever unsure about the legal status of your emotional support animal, you can always check our website for important updates as we hear about them.

Posted in ESA Blog By ESA

Flying with your ESA

Monday, February 20, 2017 12:00:00 AM America/Los_Angeles

Flying with your ESA

If your companion is registered as an emotional support animal (ESA), he/she can legally accompany you onto the cabin of an airplane during flights. Your rights are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act, but before flying with your ESA, it's important to know every airlines policy prior to booking travel.

While they are required to accommodate you, each airline may have slightly different rules when it comes to arranging travel for you and your companion. When it comes to living with an ESA, it's important to always stay as up to date as possible on the rules and regulations. Here is an overview of the policy on flying with your ESA for the major American airlines.

Remember, if you are traveling abroad or to Hawaii, you should look into whether your destination requires animals be quarantined upon arrival. ESAs must follow the laws of foreign governments at all times.

While not all airlines have the same rules, there are certain rules that apply across the board. For ESAs that are traveling free in the cabin, they must be small enough to sit in their handler’s lap, or on the floor below the seat in front of them. On all airlines, animals cannot obstruct the aisle. Most airlines also make it clear that travellers with an animal cannot sit in an emergency exit row.

For ESAs, while each airlines specifics may vary, they all require a piece of documentation, usually provided to them at least 48 hours before the flight. This is a document that clearly states the address and jurisdiction of the health professional (the license number is also recommended) who approved of the patients use of an ESA. It must clearly state that the traveler has a mental health related disability, is under the care of the health professional, and that an ESA is required to accommodate these needs.

Finally it is important to note that the information below is not necessarily complete. Just because an airline doesn’t state a particular rule on their website does not mean the rule does not apply. For example, several airlines make it clear that some species of animal are not allowed on flights, while others make no mention one way or the other. You should not assume that the airline’s website is providing the whole pictures.

We ALWAYS encourage our travelers to check with the airline in person or over the phone prior to booking passage to make sure you understand all the details of their policies. This is especially true when booking international travel, as other nations do not always abide by the same laws when it comes to ESAs.

Delta Air Lines

Delta: View policy

ESAs can travel free of charge with their handler in the cabin of a Delta flight. ESAs need to be in a kennel, they can sit freely on the cabin floor. When it comes to ESAs, Delta does require a little more information from the handler. Documentation no more than 1 year old on official letterhead from a licensed health professional is required to book passage for an ESA.

This document must clearly state the address and jurisdiction of the health professional (the license number is also recommended). It must clearly state that the traveler has a mental health related disability and that the ESA is required to accommodate these needs.

Delta does not allow certain species of animal to accompany handlers on a plane, regardless of their legal status. Those are: hedgehogs, ferrets, insects, rodents, snakes, spiders, sugar gliders, reptiles, non-household birds, any animal with tusks or hooves, and any animal, regardless of species, that is not clean or has a foul odor.

United Airlines

United: View Policy

ESAs can also travel in the cabin free of charge at United. The same rules on seating apply to ESAs. It is important to note that anyone traveling with an ESA MUST notify United’s Accessibility Desk (1-800-228-2744) at least 48 hours prior to traveling. At this time, they must also submit the required documentation to the airline. This is a form, to be filled out by a licensed mental health professional, stating that the traveler has a mental health condition and is under the care of the health professional.

The document also requires the health professional’s license information and the state or jurisdiction where it was issued.

Be sure to give yourself enough time to get all of this information together when arranging for travel with your ESA.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest: View Policy

Emotional support animals are allowed to travel in the cabin of the airline with Southwest. The same rules apply when it comes to where the animal may and may not sit.

Handlers of ESAs must provide additional documentation prior to arriving for their scheduled flight. Specifically, they must provide current documentation no more than one year old, from a licensed mental health professional. This document must clearly state that the passenger suffers from a recognized emotional disability. The health professional must state, in this document, that the Passenger requires the use of an ESA for travel, AND that the passenger is under the care of the health professional who signs the paper. Additionally, this document must clearly state the date and type of license the health professional holds and the state or jurisdiction in which it was issues.

Southwest also makes it clear that when it comes to ESAs certain species will not be allowed on the plane. Those include, but are not limited to rodents, reptiles, insects, hedgehogs, rabbits, and sugar gliders.

American Airlines

American Airlines: View Policy

American Airlines' policy on emotional support animals closely reflects that of the other major airlines. While ESAs are allowed to ride in the cabin, free of charge, more documentation is required.

Specifically, American asks for a supporting document dated within 1 year of the scheduled flight from a licensed mental health professional or medical doctor. The letter must clearly state that the passenger has a recognized emotional or mental disability and that the ESA is needed by the passenger for air travel. Furthermore, it must clearly state that the passenger is under the care of the health professional. The date and type of license held by the professional must be included, along with the state or jurisdiction where it was issued must also be clearly included.

American Airlines also clearly states that this documentation must be provided to them at least 48 hours before the flight. If they are unable to validate the information or receive this documentation late, the animal my need to travel in a kennel as checked luggage.

Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines: View Policy

ESAs can travel freely in the cabin of a plane. However, Alaska Airlines requires the same documentation of all other airlines to approve of an ESA in the cabin.

The traveller must provide a letter from a licensed medical professional, that is no more than 1 year old at the date of the flight. The documentation must state clearly that the traveller suffers from a recognized mental or emotional disorder and that the ESA is a required companion for air travel. Furthermore, the document must state that the passenger under the care of the professional who signs the paper. Finally, the health professional’s type of license and date must be clearly included, along with the state or jurisdiction it was issued in.

Alaska Airlines does not allow some species of ESAs in the cabins. These include, but are not necessarily limited to: hedgehogs, ferrets, insects, rodents, snakes, spiders, sugar gliders, reptiles, non-household birds, exotic animals, or animals of ANY kind that are dirty or have a bad odor.

JetBlue Airways

JetBlue: View Policy

ESAs at JetBlue must sit on the lap of their handler, or on the floor below the seat in front of them. However, like every other airline, JetBlue requires the handler of an ESA to also provide documentation, in advance, from a licensed health professional. This documentation must ensure that the traveller has a recognized mental or emotional disorder, and is under the care of the signing physician. It must also state that the traveller requires an ESA for travel, and it must clearly show the date and type of license the professional holds, along with the state or jurisdiction it was issued in.

Virgin America

Virgin America: View Policy

Virgin America’s ESA policy is similar to all the other major airlines. That is, they require the same documentation, from a licensed health professional, provided to them in advance of travel. The document must be no more than 1 year old and clearly state that the traveller suffers from a recognized emotional or mental disorder. It must further state that the traveller is under the care of the professional signing the letter, and also state clearly that the traveller needs an ESA for air travel. Finally, the document should include the type of license the health professional holds, and the state or jurisdiction where it was issued.

Spirit Airlines

Spirit Airlines: View Policy

Spirits Airlines' ESA guidelines are similar to the other major airlines as well. The same document, given at least 48 hours in advance must be given to the airline. It must be written by a licensed health professional and state clearly that the traveller suffers from a recognized mental or emotional disorder. The health professional must ensure that the traveller is under their care, and validate that they need an ESA for air travel. Finally, it must include the professional’s type of license, and the state or jurisdiction in which it was issued.

Posted in ESA Blog By ESA
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