Emotional support animals help alleviate symptoms of many ailments like anxiety, depression, phobias, or PTSD. These loyal companions make it easier to get through the day by helping their owners participate in major life activities they wouldn’t do otherwise.
In Alabama, ESAs help individuals better enjoy time with friends and family. They perform an invaluable service of supporting their companions.
The benefits of having an emotional support animal are clear. However, without a legitimate ESA letter, you may not have access to the protections and rights guaranteed under federal law.
This guide will cover everything you need to know about getting an ESA letter in Alabama, from how to qualify for one to a step-by-step guide on obtaining one.
Do You Qualify For An ESA Letter in Alabama?
The requirements for qualifying for an ESA letter in Alabama are similar to other states.
To start, you’ll need to obtain a letter from a licensed medical health provider. The letter must be on the clinic’s letterhead and signed by the practitioner.
Here are the basic requirements to qualify for an ESA letter in Alabama:
- An Alabama licensed healthcare professional must confirm you have an emotional disability using a mental health assessment.
- Your assessment must verify that your condition prevents you from participating in one or more major life activities.
- The healthcare provider must determine that your ESA will help treat your condition.
- Your condition must be in the Diagnostic And Statistical Manual Of Mental Disorders.
Keep in mind that there is a significant difference between ESAs and service animals. Service animals must undergo training to help individuals with disabilities perform tasks like opening doors, fetching medication, or alerting someone when the owner is in distress. Emotional support animals don’t require specialized training.
Therefore, don’t assume emotional support animal rights are the same as service animals. We’ll address emotional support animal laws in Alabama a little further in this guide.
Who Can Write an ESA Letter in Alabama?
Only a licensed healthcare provider can write and sign an emotional support animal letter. Eligible providers include but aren’t limited to primary care providers, mental health professionals, registered nurses, psychologists, psychiatrists, or licensed social workers.
If you’re an Alabama resident, you need to ensure the provider is licensed to practice in your state. Don’t get fooled by online services guaranteeing an ESA letter at a small cost and fast turn-around time. There are no shortcuts to getting a legitimate evaluation letter, and if there were, you wouldn’t want to risk getting into trouble for misrepresenting one.
For the ESA letter to be legitimate, it must include:
- The license number of your mental health provider
- Expiration date
- Issuance date
- Contact information of your mental health provider
- A face to face meeting, either online or in-person, with a therapist.
What’s Inside an Alabama ESA Letter?
There’s specific information an ESA letter should include. The medical provider needs to write it on the company letterhead for it to be legitimate. Then, they’ll need to address the following:
- The name, signature, and license number of your licensed medical health provider
- Confirmation of your diagnosis and how it affects your mental well-being
- An explanation of how your pet provides emotional support
- Details of the ESA, including size and breed
- Date of issuance
- Date of expiration
Benefits of Getting an ESA Letter in Alabama
If your pet offers therapeutic benefits or helps you get through your day, there are benefits to getting an ESA letter. Here are some of the main ones:
Increased Housing Options
Your furry friend can live with you with an ESA letter, even in no-pet housing. You’ll be exempt from paying any pet fees if you have a legitimate ESA letter. Say goodbye to pet restrictions and enjoy that gorgeous apartment you’ve been eyeing for some time now.
No Leeway in Public Places
Valid Alabama ESA letters, still do not allow you to bring your pet into restaurants, no-pet hotels, or shopping malls. Even if your ESA starts is calmd and doesn’t exhibit aggressive behavior, only service dogs are allowed at these pet free locations.
Fly With Your ESA
There was a time when ESAs could fly with their owners free of charge. However, since individuals began taking advantage of this rule, things have changed. You had people try to travel with their pet peacock for free, claiming it was an emotional support animal. Actions like this put many airlines in a tough position.
Therefore, as of 2022, not all airlines allow ESAs a complimentary seat on the plane. There are a few that still do, like Volaris or Westjet. Get in touch with the airline before booking to learn more. They will require proof of the ESA letter, so have it handy.
No Breed Restrictions
Unfortunately, certain breeds continue to have a bad reputation. There’s prejudice against breeds like Pitbulls, Rottweilers, or Huskies. These beliefs often restrict them from living in certain areas.
However, you’ll enjoy zero pet restrictions with an ESA letter in Alabama. Property owners can’t deny your pet entry unless they show aggressive behavior, regardless of their breed.
They Offer Emotional Support
Perhaps their most significant benefit is that your emotional support animal will help you work through feelings of anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses. Having an ESA letter means you’ll be able to take them with you anywhere you go.
Emotional Support Animals Laws in Alabama
ESA laws in Alabama are pretty straightforward. Here we’ll go over the housing, employment, travel, and campus laws to keep in mind.
The Fair Housing Act (FHA) helps protect individuals with disabilities, ensuring that landlords and property owners can’t turn them away or discriminate against them based on their disability. Landlords must also make reasonable accommodations when it comes to assistance animals, and this includes emotional support animals.
Under the FHA, you can request accommodation for yourself and your ESA, even in situations with no-pet housing. Landlords may put up a fight if your ESA is an exotic animal like a miniature horse or an alligator. However, you’ll be in the clear if you have a dog or cat for an ESA.
Just be sure to have your ESA letter handy in case they ask for it (which they probably will).
As of now, no law requires an employer to allow ESAs in the workplace. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t speak with your boss about this topic. Explain how your ESA helps you focus at work and be more productive. If they refuse, you must comply with their decision.
In short, airlines decide whether they allow ESAs or not.
The U.S. Department of Transportation ruled in 2021 that it’s up to the airline to allow ESAs to board the plane with their owners. Several airlines, including United Airlines, American Airlines, and Frontier, have decided to take advantage of this new rule and stop accepting ESAs.
Some airlines like Westjet, Volaris, and Latam Airlines still allow you to bring your ESA free of charge. You’ll need to pay a pet fee to bring them into the cabin with you for those who don’t. They must also be small enough to fit under your seat. Unfortunately, this doesn’t help pet owners with bigger ESAs.
It’s highly advisable to call the airline in advance to see the requirements for flying with your ESA. Since ESA rules are at their discretion, you want to speak directly with the airline you book with and have your evaluation letter ready.
Campus Living Protections
Thanks to the Federal Rehabilitation Act, emotional support animals are allowed in campus settings. The federal ruling allows students to live with their emotional support animal in on-campus housing. They may walk with them throughout campus and can even take them to class, depending on the university or college.
How to Get an ESA Letter in Alabama: A Step-by-Step Guide
You can obtain a legitimate ESA letter online with providers like The ESA Registration of America. We connect you with a licensed mental health professional in Alabama who will undergo an online video consultation.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to get an Alabama ESA letter online.
1. Purchase an ESA Letter Product
Your first step would be to purchase the Evaluation Letter product. You’ll have a travel or housing option. If you would like both, there is a bundle deal you can purchase.
2. Complete a Mental Health Questionnaire
This mental health questionnaire will walk you through a series of questions that you should answer as accurately as possible. This form is confidential and will only be for review by your mental health provider.
3. Meet With a Mental Health Provider
Once you’ve purchased the ESA letter product and completed the questionnaire, you’ll schedule an appointment with an Alabama mental health professional. The provider will send you an email with the conference link and other details you’ll need.
4. Receive the ESA Letter
After meeting with the health provider, you’ll receive the ESA letter within a few days as long as you’re approved by the licensed mental health professional. Having a legitimate letter means you can take full advantage of Alabama’s ESA housing, employment, and travel laws.
Upon receiving your ESA letter, remember to exercise your legal rights with kindness. Be patient and understanding with the person you’re speaking to if they don’t understand that your ESA isn’t just a pet but a support animal.
An ESA letter will help explain how your pet helps you and why they’re a part of your treatment. It will ensure protection for your rights and accommodations in many situations.
If you have an emotional support animal in Alabama, know your rights and always go through the proper channels to get your evaluation letter. It will prevent receiving a fraudulent letter that could get you into trouble.
At ESA Registration of America, you can complete the entire process of qualifying for an ESA letter in Alabama. We have a vast network of licensed mental health professionals ready to help with your assessment, and our registration makes it easier for you to navigate life with an ESA.
Get in touch with The ESA Registration of America to get your ESA letter today.