If you have an emotional support animal, you understand first-hand the therapeutic benefits they offer—lowered anxiety, enhanced social engagement, and emotional relief, just to name a few.
Companion animals are necessary for individuals suffering from anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other ailments. Unlike service dogs, emotional support animals can be any type of animal, making them perfect for those allergic to the traditional dog or cat.
However, if you have an animal you’d like to make into an ESA in Mississippi, you’ll need an ESA letter first.
What’s an ESA Letter?
An emotional support animal letter is a document written by a mental health professional. This piece of paper states an individual requires the support of a pet or companion animal. The letter describes how the emotional support animal provides therapeutic support to its owner, their diagnosed condition, details of the animal, and more.
Without this letter, you can’t officially designate your pet as an ESA in Mississippi. The letter legitimizes the animal’s status and opens up various opportunities and access to services and public accommodations otherwise unavailable to pets.
Do You Qualify for an ESA Letter in Mississippi?
The first step to receiving an emotional support animal letter in Mississippi is learning if you qualify for one. Most people who qualify suffer from an ailment like anxiety, ADHD, or depression.
Here’s a list of other conditions that could qualify you for an emotional support animal:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Panic attacks
- Substance-related disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Eating disorders
- Bipolar disorder
- Learning disorders
The list doesn’t stop here. There are several ailments that companion animals can help ease. A mental health provider will help determine if you qualify for an emotional support animal. ESA Registration of America has partnered with mental health professionals to provide pet owners with ESA letters in a timely and cost-effective manner.
Who Can Write an ESA Letter in Mississippi?
Even if you determine you could benefit from an ESA, you’ll need to see a professional to confirm your qualifying condition. Self-diagnosis isn’t enough.
It’s also important to note that only a Mississippi licensed therapist or LMHP (licensed medical healthcare professional) can issue this document. LMHPs that you can see for this assessment include:
- A physician
- A psychiatrist
- A psychologist
- A licensed clinical social worker (LCSW)
- A licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT)
- A licensed nurse practitioner
Once you’ve met with the LMHP, they’ll need to diagnose your condition and determine if an ESA would be beneficial for your treatment. If they agree it would, they’ll need to write the ESA letter.
What’s Inside a Mississippi ESA Letter?
For an ESA letter in Mississippi to be legitimate, it must be signed by a Mississippi licensed LMHP. They will need to write the letter on company letterhead and include the following information:
- The name and license number of the LMHP
- Date when their license was issued
- Reason for the ESA (What condition does it treat?)
- Breed, size, and type of ESA
- Date of issuance and expiration
An emotional support animal letter in Mississippi will remain valid for a year after the issue date. It will need to get renewed after it expires.
Benefits of Getting an ESA Letter in Mississippi
Your ESA provides therapeutic benefits like relief for ailments such as anxiety or depression. Unfortunately, while you may understand that your pet is necessary to everyday living, others may not. It’s why it’s so important to have and carry an ESA letter issued by a Mississippi health professional.
Here’s what you can expect when you have one:
With an ESA letter, you have protections under the Fair Housing Act. Landlords can’t deny ESAs even when they have a no-pets policy. They also can’t charge ESA owners any pet fees or deposits associated with the emotional support animal.
Your landlord also can’t deny your pet based on breed, weight, or size. Thanks to these no-breed restrictions, your ESA won’t be discriminated against if they fall under a breed considered dangerous or destructive, like Pitbulls, Huskies, or Rottweilers.
If your companion animal shows aggressive or destructive behavior, your landlord has the right to deny housing.
Your emotional support animal makes it easier to get through your days. The same applies to your work life.
Unfortunately, employment laws only cover service animals. ESAs aren’t covered legally, but with an ESA letter, you may convince your employer to let your emotional support animal be by your side at work.
Some workplaces are pet-friendly. If you explain your situation to your employer and show them the letter issued by a mental health professional, they may allow it.
Remember that your employer could say no. If you choose to bring your ESA into work anyway, they can fire you for violating company policy. Therefore, always ask before assuming you can bring your ESA to work with you.
ESAs may be eligible for travel benefits, including flying with you in the cabin. However, there have been several changes to the rules and regulations for ESAs on flights.
While a few airlines still allow you to fly with your ESA free of charge, not all offer this. And those that do will ask to see your ESA letter, so make sure you have it handy.
For airlines that don’t allow ESAs to fly free of charge, you’ll need to pay a fee to have them fly in the cabin with you. Reach out to the specific airline to learn more about their policies regarding emotional support animals.
Perhaps the most important of them all, ESAs provide health benefits for those with mental health conditions. They help their owners get through feelings of sadness, anxiety, or fear.
Studies have shown several psychosocial and psychophysiological effects due to human-animal interactions. These pets promote social interaction, reduce anxiety and stress, and enhance human health, among other health benefits.
Emotional Support Animals Laws in Mississippi
If you’re an ESA owner in Mississippi, there are a few laws you should know. We’ll review everything you need to know, from housing to travel laws.
The Federal Fair Housing Act protects ESAs and their owners. This act requires housing providers to allow reasonable accommodation, even with a no-pet policy. Your landlord can’t deny housing or impose added charges. They also can’t reject the animal based on breed, size, or weight.
However, they can deny accommodation if your ESA is aggressive, loud, or destructive. Landlords will always ask to see your emotional support animal letter, so be sure you have it on hand.
Where does the Fair Housing Act stand when it comes to on-campus university housing? Universities must provide accommodation for students and their ESA, as long as the student has a legitimate ESA letter in Mississippi. However, there are some exceptions.
Does this mean students can take their companion animal to class? Not quite. Unlike service dogs, you won’t be able to take your emotional support animal everywhere. Most of the time, they won’t be allowed in specific buildings like laboratories, libraries, lecture halls, or cafeterias.
Also, keep in mind that there are some exceptions to the Fair Housing Act. For instance, if your ESA:
- Harms others or damages property
- Shows aggressive behavior
- Causes allergic reactions to those nearby
The housing provider has the right to deny accommodations and can charge you for damage caused by the animal.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not cover emotional support animals. You can’t legally bring your companion animal to work because it’s not a service dog.
Ultimately, it’s up to your employer whether you can have your ESA working with you in the office. Show them your ESA letter and explain how your pet helps you in the workplace.
Not all airlines accept emotional support animals. While some may allow you to bring them with you free of charge, others don’t. As of January 2021 and the DOT’s final ruling on the Air Carrier Access Act, airlines no longer have to accommodate ESAs. They can do so at their discretion.
The following airlines no longer allow emotional support animals to fly free of charge:
Get in touch with the airline you’re flying to inquire about their rules. Worst case, you’ll need to pay a pet fee to bring your ESA into the cabin with you. They must also be small enough to fit under your seat. If you have a bigger ESA, you won’t be able to bring them into the cabin with you.
How to Get an ESA Letter in Mississippi: A Step-by-Step Guide
Ready to obtain a legitimate ESA letter in Mississippi? ESA Registration of America can help. Here’s how:
1. Purchase an ESA Letter Product
ESA Registration of America offers Evaluation Letter products ranging from travel to housing options. You can also purchase both of them as a bundle deal.
2. Undergo a Mental Health Evaluation
Once you select the evaluation letter you need, you’ll need to complete a mental health questionnaire. Answer each question as honestly as possible. We will send this form to a Mississippi mental health provider, who will review your answers and get in touch with you.
3. Meet With a Licensed Mental Health Provider in MS
We’ll connect you with a Mississippi mental health professional. They’ll contact you to schedule a meeting and determine if they can issue your letter.
4. Receive Your ESA Letter
Once the LMHP approves you for an ESA, you’ll receive your letter within a few days. This letter will prove that a Mississippi licensed professional recommends that you have an ESA. Always have it with you if your landlord or traveling agent asks to see it.
Get in Touch With the ESA Registration of America Today!
An ESA letter in Mississippi lets you take full advantage of housing and travel laws. If you’re out in public, facility owners are more likely to accommodate your pet if you have an ESA letter.
Ready to get started? Contact ESA Registration of America to start the process of getting your emotional support animal letter.