Emotional support animals make for incredible companions for many in the United States. They can help soothe the symptoms of many common emotional and mental health issues, allowing their owners to access a quality of life that would otherwise be unavailable to them.
An evaluation letter is the first step to qualifying for an ESA. With it, you can prove your animal’s validity and necessity.
If you live in Delaware and you aren’t sure how to get an ESA letter, you’re in the right place! We will break down the entire process of qualifying for an ESA letter in Delaware from start to finish.
Do You Qualify for an ESA Letter in Delaware?
You most likely qualify for an ESA letter if you have a mental illness or emotional condition that has been diagnosed by a medical professional. Some of the most common diagnoses associated with ESAs include anxiety, depression, attention deficit disorder, learning disabilities, and PTSD.
However, there is no set limit on what conditions can qualify you for an ESA. If you believe you would benefit from one, it is always wise to contact your relevant healthcare professional for advice.
Who Can Write an ESA Letter in Delaware?
Many people will go through their primary care doctor to acquire an ESA letter. However, there are other routes you can take if you feel it is more appropriate for your circumstance. In addition to doctors, you can receive an evaluation letter from any licensed mental health professional (LMHP), including:
- Licensed social workers
- Mental health counselors
- Marriage and family therapists
Who you choose to approach is entirely up to you. However, it’s usually advisable to go with the professional who has known you for the longest, as they will better understand your individual needs.
What’s Inside a Delaware ESA Letter?
To verify the legitimacy of an ESA letter, it needs to include several key components. These include:
- The name of your LMHP provider
- Their contact details
- Their official letterhead
- Their license number
- Their state of jurisdiction
- The date the LMHP issued the letter
Additionally, information must state why the patient requires an ESA and what benefit it will provide to their lives. This statement should also detail how the medical health professional has been treating the patient’s emotional or mental condition, with specific reference to what the condition is.
Benefits of Getting an ESA Letter in Delaware
There are numerous benefits to possessing an ESA letter. To give you some insight, we have listed some of the critical considerations below for you to review.
Greater Access to Otherwise Restricted Places
Though no legislation in Delaware obligates public spaces to accept your ESA, the presence of an ESA letter may work to encourage restaurant and shop owners to make an exception to their no-pet policy.
It isn’t a guarantee, and an ESA letter won’t work like a miracle pass. Still, it will provide some extra validation to which many businesses may respond positively.
Allows You to Live Almost Anywhere
Legislation around housing in Delaware is clear surrounding ESAs and is essentially the same as legal protections for service animals. A landlord or housing association cannot turn you away, even if they have a strict no-pet policy.
Under Delaware law, your ESA is not a pet, so the rules do not apply. You’re free to live just about anywhere.
Makes You Exempt From Pet Fees
Presenting an ESA letter to a landlord in Delaware also alleviates any pet fees. It may not seem like much, but any chance to save money is welcome, and it’s a nice little bonus to have!
May Assist With Travel Restrictions
Though ESAs do not have legal protections to board flights, there are other areas where possessing an ESA letter could assist with your travel. Public transport, for example, where no-pet policies are in place.
By presenting an ESA letter, you may be able to travel freely, which will undoubtedly reduce stress when navigating your daily life.
Can Improve Your Confidence With Your ESA
Though we have all come a long way when it comes to understanding the needs of others, there are still some who are quick to judge. Sadly, it’s an unavoidable part of life, and if you’re bringing your ESA into a space that ordinarily has a no-pets policy, you might get unwanted attention.
With an evaluation letter, you can feel validated in your decisions and provide proof that your animal belongs by your side at all times. You shouldn’t have to prove yourself, but it’s a nice boost of confidence to know that you have your official letter as proof should you need it.
Emotional Support Animal Laws in Delaware
Thankfully, legislation surrounding emotional support animals in Delaware is pretty tolerant, especially compared to other states. The four key areas covered are employment, housing, public accommodation, and travel. We’ve broken these down for you in the following section.
Many states make a clear distinction between emotional support animals and service animals regarding employment legislation. Delaware, however, is not one of those states and essentially utilizes the same laws for both groups. Both ESAs and service animals are allowed within the workplace, with the expectation that employers make reasonable accommodations for any employees that require an ESA.
These accommodations do not always immediately mean that the animal will be present in the office. Instead, employers may choose to allow employees to work from home or come up with mutually agreed arrangements that may lessen the mental toll of the position.
Employers can often miss conditions like anxiety or depression, and approaching them can feel overwhelming. Having an ESA letter can help these conversations get started and demonstrate the importance of your needs.
Under the Federal Fair Housing Act, housing facilities cannot deny housing to anybody based on the presence of an emotional support animal. Landlords are legally obligated to make reasonable accommodations for any individual determined by a medical professional to require the support of an ESA. The FHA protects ESA owners from facing housing discrimination in Delaware.
Reasonable accommodations can take many forms and is a subjective definition. Broadly it refers to waiving pet fees or no-pet policies.
However, a landlord may have legal recourse to alter this arrangement if the animal in question displays disruptive or aggressive behavior.
Additionally, the landlord may turn away animals that are too large for the relevant property.
Public Accommodation Laws
Public places do not have to allow ESAs inside. Public establishments include libraries, restaurants, retail stores, and many more indoor spaces generally open to the public.
The laws mean that any location with a no-pet policy will likely extend that policy to include ESAs, even though they are not strictly pets. The restrictions can hold true even if you present an ESA letter.
One way around this is to contact establishments ahead of time and inquire about their policy regarding ESAs. Some establishments may be sympathetic and may allow you to bring your ESA inside for the duration of your stay. Regardless of the outcome, checking in advance will save you from any unpleasant surprises upon arrival.
Unfortunately, following the revision of the Air Carrier Access Act, ESAs are no longer allowed in the cabin of a plane free of charge. You will need to pay the associated pet fee, or your ESA may not be allowed on with you at all.
Suppose planes cause you significant anxiety, and you feel you would be unable to travel without them. In that case, it may be worth investigating whether your ESA could qualify as a psychiatric service animal. It would allow you to travel freely, as service animals benefit from protections that ESAs do not.
How to Get an ESA Letter in Delaware: A Step-by-Step Guide
So, now we’ve covered why an ESA letter is beneficial and what legislation is in place to support you, let’s discuss how you can get one for yourself.
1. Understand Why You Need an ESA
The first thing you need to do is identify precisely why you feel an ESA would benefit you and how it could alleviate your symptoms. ESAs are often used to relieve either depression or anxiety, especially in public settings, but they can be helpful for a wide variety of reasons.
If you believe an ESA would support you in your daily life, make sure you know why and what your ESA could help you with and discuss this with your medical care provider. This information will help the following process go smoothly.
2. Make Contact With the Relevant Medical Professional
Once you know why you would benefit from an ESA, it’s time to contact your LMHP. After reviewing your symptoms and hearing about your experience, they may choose to move forward with the necessary tests for an ESA letter.
These ‘tests’ will likely consist of questions relating to how your symptoms affect your daily life and how an ESA could help to alleviate some of your stress. This step is why identifying your reasons before the appointment is so helpful. Going in with a plan of what you’re going to say will help you feel more confident during the appointment.
3. Cooperate With the Recommended Tests and Procedures
Though you may feel a little frustrated at first to have to complete the relevant tests, they are a vital part of the overall process. Once medical professionals fully understand why you would benefit from an ESA, they can better assist you with your care.
If the tests return and highlight a genuine need for an ESA, they should write you a letter to confirm this requirement.
4. Wait for Your ESA Letter to Arrive
Once the process is complete, your doctor will send out your ESA letter via post or may email it to you, depending on their policy. It will include all the information necessary to prove the validity of your ESA, including a signature from the relevant medical professional.
Register Now for an ESA Letter
You are now fully equipped to get the documentation you need, with information about ESAs, their benefits, and getting an ESA letter in Delaware.
At ESA Registration of America, we have everything you need to set yourself up to qualify for an ESA. From a network of compassionate LMHPs to evaluation letters and registering your ESA, you’ll find it all here. Get started today!