Emotional support animals (ESAs) are becoming more and more popular. This popularity is partly due to their ability to provide comfort for their owners and also because they can help with emotional and mental health issues.
However, it’s not enough to claim that your pet provides these benefits. If you want accommodations, you’ll need an official ESA letter.
In this article, we’ll be looking at how to get an ESA letter in Nebraska and the benefits that a letter provides so that you and your assistance animal can live without discrimination.
Do You Qualify for an ESA Letter in Nebraska?
To apply for an ESA letter in Nebraska, you need to consult your doctor and get their recommendation. An emotional support animal is a companion animal that provides symptomatic relief to an individual with a mental health disorder.
Studies have shown that ESAs reduce anxiety and help combat depression. Doctors may suggest an emotional support animal as part of a treatment program for people with mental health conditions such as:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Panic disorders
- Generalized Anxiety
- Social anxiety disorder
- Learning disabilities
- Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
To qualify for an emotional support animal in Nebraska, you’ll need to have a diagnosed condition assessed by a licensed mental health provider.
Who Can Write an ESA Letter in Nebraska?
An ESA letter is not a certificate but a doctor’s note that you can use when traveling or renting with your pet. The letter states that you have a disability and need your pet to help you overcome it.
In Nebraska, a licensed mental health professional must issue an ESA letter. It means you must see one of the following medical practitioners with a Nebraska license:
- Primary Care Physician
- Clinical Social Workers
- Mental Health Counselors
- General Physician
What’s Inside a Nebraska ESA Letter?
Nebraska Emotional Support Animal Letters are an excellent way for you to provide documentation for your emotional support animal. Your Nebraska ESA letter should include the following:
- Your name and contact information, including address and phone number
- The nature of your disorder
- The name and contact information, including address and phone number, of your doctor or therapist
- A statement that the doctor or therapist will provide treatment to you
- A statement that the doctor or therapist agrees that having an animal will help treat your condition
- A statement that the doctor or therapist agrees that having an ESA will not interfere with your ability to get medical care
Does Your Pet Qualify for an ESA Letter in Nebraska?
An emotional support animal may feel like a pet or act like a pet but is not necessarily a pet. For example, the animal may be a bird or another exotic animal. To be considered an ESA, a medical professional must prescribe an assistance animal as a treatment to alleviate an existing medical condition.
If you have a prescription for an emotional support animal, you don’t need further certification or registration with any government entity. The most important thing is that your doctor has authorized and prescribed an ESA for you. You should have access to your prescription details to share this information with landlords, airlines, and other institutions that may require proof.
There are no specific species requirements for ESA; dogs are the most popular choice, but there are no rules against owning other animals, such as cats or parrots, if they meet all other qualifications.
Benefits of Getting an ESA Letter in Nebraska
Emotional support animals are not the same as service dogs but can produce similar effects. ESAs provide many benefits to their owners, including reduced stress levels, improved moods, improved quality of life, and more time outside the home.
Besides the many benefits ESAs provide handlers physically and mentally, an ESA letter allows them to reap even more benefits from their companion animals under Nebraska’s emotional support animal laws.
Bypass Housing Restrictions
The most common use of a pet letter is waiving breed restrictions on apartments and houses. Landlords must allow you to keep your pet if you can provide them with proof that the animal is a legitimate emotional support animal. If you want to bring your dog when you move, bypassing these restrictions with an ESA letter is a significant benefit.
Save Money on Fees
The ESA Letter will also waive pet fees and deposits if you rent or buy a home. Depending on how many pets are allowed, this can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars.
Travel with Your Companion
Certain airlines still recognize the benefits of emotional support animals and offer accommodations, such as waiving extra cargo fees and travel restrictions on breed weight and size.
Emotional Support Animals Laws in Nebraska
In Nebraska, the laws that protect the rights of people who use ESAs follow federal guidelines, including the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA).
Fair Housing Act
Under the FHA, individuals with ESAs may request reasonable accommodation to keep an assistance animal in their housing. Examples of reasonable accommodations include allowing an emotional support dog in an apartment building that does not allow pets.
The FHA states that landlords can’t discriminate against people with assistance animals. They can only deny a reasonable accommodation request if they prove it causes a significant financial or administrative burden or is a fundamental alteration to the property.
Also, landlords must waive no-pet policies for an emotional support animal if the tenant requests.
Exceptions to Emotional Support Animal Laws in Nebraska
Housing facilities that provide assisted living services for senior citizens or individuals with disabilities may restrict the admission of emotional support animals. These include retirement homes, group homes, residential care, and nursing homes. A facility that receives federal funding must allow ESAs, but not all do so.
Emotional support animals in Nebraska are not required to undergo training for any specific task but must behave appropriately. Public housing agencies have the discretion to decide whether ESAs are allowed under the FHA.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s guidance states that the landlord should base their decision on whether the animal poses a direct threat to others or would cause substantial physical damage to property. Examples of burden could include an undue financial or administrative burden on the agency or fundamentally altering the nature of its services.
If an agency decides not to allow ESAs, it must notify applicants who request them in writing of its policy. They must also allow those applicants to appeal its decision if they believe they were wrongfully denied access.
Air Carrier Access Act
The Air Carrier Access Act is a law that applies to airline travel. It requires airlines to allow passengers with disabilities to travel with their service animals. The ACAA also requires airlines to accommodate passengers with disabilities who need assistance in the airport or on the plane in other ways, such as travelers who may need extra time or assistance boarding, deplaning, or connecting between flights.
Emotional support animals were previously recognized under this law but no longer do because they don’t undergo training to manage an individual’s symptoms of a disability. Airlines are not required to allow emotional support animals on board their aircraft.
However, some airlines still accommodate ESAs and may even allow them in the cabin, depending on the size. It’s best to call your specific airline to inquire about their policies.
How to Get an ESA Letter in Nebraska: A Step-by-Step Guide
An emotional support animal can help you cope with mental health issues like depression, anxiety, or PTSD. If you have a mental health condition and need an ESA letter in Nebraska, this step-by-step guide can help you navigate the process of getting one.
1. Schedule an In-Person or Virtual Appointment
Find a licensed medical professional specializing in mental health issues such as PTSD, anxiety disorders, depression, and more. You can also get this letter from your primary care doctor if they are licensed in Nebraska.
If you want to stay in the comfort of your home, online resources make it easier than ever to connect you with a licensed medical practitioner who can help. You don’t necessarily need to find a psychologist or psychiatrist; any mental health professional will do as long as they have licensed from the state of Nebraska where they practice medicine/therapy/etc.
2. Consult a Licensed Mental Health Professional
Once you’ve scheduled an appointment, it’s time to talk to your doctor. Your doctor will ask about your symptoms, their frequency and severity, how long you’ve had them, what makes them better or worse, what treatments have worked in the past, and any other information that might help them understand your condition better.
During this meeting, explain what kind of assistance your pet provides and how it makes a difference in your life. The doctor may also ask for medical records from previous visits to help determine whether you would benefit from owning an ESA.
3. Qualify for an Official ESA Letter
After having an open and honest discussion with your doctor, they may decide to write an ESA letter based on the information you provided during the appointment. The letter should include details about the symptoms you experience, how long you’ve had them and when you started experiencing them.
Prices of ESA letters are different depending on the location. Once the doctor has written an ESA letter for their patient, they should provide it by mail or in person so they can show it to airlines, landlords, and other companies who may need proof.
4. Register Your ESA
After receiving your ESA letter, you may consider registering your ESA.
Registration isn’t necessarily a requirement under Nebraska state law. However, registering your ESA provides an additional step to securing their rights.
With registration, you can easily show proof of your animal’s status and demonstrate they are more than a pet—they are an assistance animal crucial to your well-being. Registration protects both your animal and you.
In today’s world, there are many reasons that a person may feel they need to have their pet by their side. ESA letters can help you continue benefiting from your furry friend’s emotional support and comfort and ensure compliance with the law. Sign up for a virtual visit or find an LMHP near you in Nebraska today and register your animal with the ESA Registration of America.