How Do I Get an Emotional Support Animal (ESA)?2020-04-21
Adopted pets can make amazing Emotional Support Animals. Maybe you already have a beloved animal and would like to get it registered and qualified with a therapist letter?
No matter your circumstance, you're here because you want to know everything about ESAs (emotional support animals).
While anyone can register an animal to receive legal updates on ESA’s, everyone must follow the same process with a therapist to see if they qualify for an ESA letter. The guide below will cover the basics, from what qualifies as an ESA to what the process entails. If you want to know how to get started, you've come to the right place.
Keep reading to see the steps that you have to follow. By the end, you should have a solid understanding of what the ESA registration process involves and how to schedule therapist sessions. If you have any questions, you can either continue to browse articles and FAQs or contact your local ESA Registration of America office during their business hours.
What does an Emotional Support Animal do?
An ESA, or emotional support animal, is an animal that provides therapeutic support to its owner. Emotional support animals have the primary task of helping those suffering from psychological stress, whether due to a genetic condition or due to other circumstances.
What training is required?
Unlike service animals, however, ESAs do not need to undergo specific training. An ESA calms its owner through its presence alone rather than by completing tasks or utilizing comfort techniques.
If you would like, you can enroll your animal in professional training courses to make them adept in helping you at certain tasks, but this is not required. An ESA does not require any additional training or specifications.
What animals count as an ESA?
Unlike service animals, any pet can qualify, such as cats, snakes, and rabbits. Still, airlines and property owners have cracked down on ESA’s that are of an exotic species. While the law can be open ended with regard to ESA animal type, please don’t assume that your pet llama actually qualifies as an ESA even with a valid letter from a licensed therapist. Service animals can only be dogs or miniature ponies, so if you're planning to switch from ESA to a service pet, then you need to plan accordingly since service animals go through extensive training to assist their owners.
What rights does my ESA have?
The Air Carriers Access Act (ACAA) and the Fair Housing Authority Act (FHA) protect ESAs. The ACAA allows you to fly on a plane with your support animal. The FHA means that landlords cannot charge you pet rent or deny you if you have an emotional support animal. Besides these two specifications, your ESA does not have the same rights as service animals.
While helpful, ESA owners are not required to purchase an indicator vest or leash for their qualified animal. Having the correct paperwork for the airline is the only requirement. It’s always important to remember that emotional support animals are not considered the same classification as service animals and are not allowed into restaurants and stores.
Can I get a therapy dog for anxiety or other psychological disorders?
The short answer is that yes, you can get a therapy dog for anxiety or other psychological disorders, but each ESA letter is written on a case by case basis. The principal purpose of an emotional support animal is to provide comfort. If you are suffering from trauma or stress due to a genetic or psychological condition or situation, you should consider registering your pet as an ESA and then scheduling a session with a therapist. If your work, home, or life situation are particularly stressful, you might qualify as needing an emotional support animal.
What do I have to do?
No matter your reason for getting an ESA letter, you will first need to speak with a mental health professional. In most cases, an established relationship with a therapist and a discussion with your care provider will be enough to receive an ESA letter should you qualify.
Please note that registering an ESA through a website does not automatically qualify your animals as an ESA. A letter from a mental health provider is what makes an ESA legitimate. Registering an animal on ESA Registration adds you to a searchable self reported database and in the event of an emergency or lost animal someone has the ability to search for and connect with an owner to return a lost ESA.
Is it a very difficult process?
No, the process of scheduling a session with a therapist for an ESA letter interview is not complicated. You need to make sure, however, that you read up on the guidelines before diving in. Know what rights your pet has as an emotional support animal. Make sure that you grasp the difference between an ESA and a service animal so that you feel confident registering.
Once you have finalized the decision to register and meet with one of our therapists you will need to complete the following:
- Via our website, the ESA Registration of America, purchase an ESA letter product. This does not guarantee that your animal will receive the ESA designation, but guarantees you’ll be matched with a therapist who then determines qualification.
- Before meeting with a mental health provider via HIPAA compliant video chat you will fill out an in depth therapist questionnaire that goes into detail about your mental health history.
- The therapist will review your in depth mental health questionnaire before your session and then determine qualification after your sessions. Please note that our website has no say in the therapist’s decision to offer an ESA prescription. Prescription letters are based on their professional opinion.
- Should you qualify for an ESA letter you will receive a downloadable signed copy on therapist letterhead via your log in portal.
Getting an emotional support animal is not a convoluted process, but you need to be careful. Make sure that you receive a subscription letter through a credible source, such as the ESA Registration of America contracted therapist or your personal therapist. We urge you to do your research and not trust companies that will automatically qualify your animal as an ESA without going through the correct process. You want to ensure that your letters will be valid no matter where you go in the U.S. There should be no exemptions for auto-generated prescription letters.
Once you have all the paperwork you need for your ESA you should consider our ESA products that help make travel and identification a breeze. You can purchase an Animal ID Card that has your animal's photo and information on it. The card also has legal info about your rights as an ESA owner. Some of our kits also include a personalized ESA registration certificate with your animal's name on it. This is not the same as an ESA letter and shouldn’t be confused with a letter from a mental health professional.
If you are suffering from mental stress or trauma, you don't need to bear it alone. Go ahead and register your pet as an emotional support animal and then sign up to speak with a therapist.
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