Emotional support animals are becoming more common as people break down stigmas around mental health and seek therapeutic alternatives to medication.
But while more people are signing up for ESAs, it isn’t as simple as designating your pet as an emotional support animal. First, you need the ESA letter.
An ESA letter can open doors at work, in daily life, social life, and traveling. If you live in Louisana and want to know where you can obtain this letter, you’re in the right place.
Our comprehensive guide will cover everything you need to know, from qualifying conditions to state and federal laws and the steps you need to take to get an ESA letter in Louisiana.
Do You Qualify For an ESA Letter in Louisiana?
To qualify for an ESA letter in Louisiana, you will need to have a licensed mental healthcare professional (LMHP) evaluate you for a mental, psychological or emotional condition.
The evaluation will address your condition and how the Emotional Support Animal assists and supports you with this.
Some common qualifying conditions include:
- Bipolar disorder
- And more
The list above is not definitive, and you should speak with your LMHP to determine if your condition qualifies you for an ESA.
Who Can Write an ESA Letter in Louisiana?
In Louisiana, a letter will only be valid if written by a qualified mental healthcare professional or doctor.
There are lots of organizations that offer ESA letters in Louisiana. Always check out who you are using if you are not going directly to your doctor or healthcare professional, especially if you are sourcing a letter online.
What’s Inside a Louisiana ESA Letter?
To be official, an ESA letter in Louisiana must include specific information:
- The full name of your practitioner
- The LMHP’s license number and the name of the state that issued the license
- The official letterhead of the LMHP
- The letter must also be signed and dated.
Benefits of Getting an ESA Letter in Louisiana
ESAs offer many benefits to emotional and mental well-being. An ESA letter lets you take advantage of those benefits with the bonus of being able to take your companion with you into many public settings.
Taking Your Emotional Support Animal to Work or College
An official ESA letter will make it easier for you to take your emotional support animal to work or college.
Companies and employers do not have to accept ESAs in the workplace. Still, an official document makes it more likely for them to allow it.
You can save costs if you frequently travel with your emotional support animal. It’s simple to avoid pet charges with an ESA letter.
Avoiding Pet Fees for Your ESA
An ESA letter will avoid the extra charges for a pet fee. It also lets you rent a property that otherwise doesn’t accept pets.
Emotional Support Animals Laws in Louisiana
Louisiana follows federal legislation when it comes to Emotional Support Animals. The ones you need to know include:
Americans with Disabilities Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act establishes guidelines for people with disabilities, including their right to have service animals. While the same rules don’t apply to ESAs, the ADA laid the early groundwork for protecting the rights of people with disabilities. Some of its protections may also apply in the workplace and public settings.
Federal law distinguishes between service animals and Emotional Support Animals. Service animals have a recognized status and are considered working animals because they perform a specific task.
Emotional Support Animals do not share this same training and defined role, so they don’t have the same protections.
ESAs can access the workplace and public locations, similar to service animals. Many employers in Louisiana treat ESAs like service dogs and will allow them at work.
However, access to public accommodations is not a right and is only at the discretion of management.
Fair Housing Act
The Fair Housing Act (FHA) prohibits landlords from refusing housing to people with ESAs, even if the property does not allow pets. It also stipulates that tenants do not have to pay the usual pet fees.
However, if a pet is noisy, dangerous, or disruptive, the landlord can refuse accommodation or ask them to pay for damages.
Air Carrier Access Act
In 2021, the US Department of Transportation announced changes to the Air Carrier Access Act, no longer requiring airlines to accommodate ESAs. They left the decision with the individual airlines, and several carriers moved to ban ESAs or restrict their access.
If you plan to fly with your ESA, you’ll need to speak to the airline before traveling. An ESA letter could help prove you have a legitimate need rather than a desire to get a free seat for a pet.
How to Get An ESA Letter in Louisiana: A Step-by-step Guide
1. Make an Appointment With a Doctor or LMHP
Book an appointment with your doctor or LMHP. You can do this online or in person.
2. Get a Medical Assessment
Your doctor or LMHP will assess your needs and how your ESA supports you in your day-to-day life.
If they verify that your requirement is current and valid, they will issue an official ESA letter.
3. Receive the Letter
Once approved, you will receive the ESA letter. It’s best to have copies of this, one to keep for your records and another to carry with you.
4. Renew the Letter
In Louisiana, the ESA letter is only valid for twelve months. When it expires, you’ll have to get re-evaluated to renew the letter.
An official ESA letter is proof that your ESA is vital to your mental health or emotional wellbeing. And with the ESA Registration of America, obtaining the letter is simple.
When you sign up for an ESA letter package, you’ll gain access to a vast network of licensed mental health professionals in Louisiana, as well as options for in-person or telehealth evaluations. Get in touch today and start the process to living better with an emotional support animal.