Emotional support animals change the lives of thousands of owners nationwide every day. They are capable of providing both companionship and much-needed alleviation from debilitating symptoms. This support can help with depression, anxiety, PTSD, OCD, and many other disorders that impact the lives of millions.
In this guide, we’re going to take you through everything you need to know about obtaining an ESA letter in the state of Wisconsin. We’ll cover the benefits, relevant legislation, and even provide a step-by-step guide on obtaining your own. An ESA letter is an empowering document to own, so let’s help you get one for yourself!
Do You Qualify For An ESA Letter in Wisconsin?
If you’re reading this guide, then the chances are you already own an emotional support animal or are strongly considering the possibility for your health. If that’s the case, then yes, you will most likely qualify for an ESA letter. These letters are provided to those struggling with their mental or emotional well-being, where it is believed the presence of an ESA will alleviate some of the associated symptoms. These symptoms can include PTSD, anxiety, depression, and much more.
Who Can Write an ESA Letter in Wisconsin?
Your ESA letter must come from a licensed healthcare professional. This can take many forms, but you must understand precisely who to approach regarding your letter. Take note: if it doesn’t come from an appropriate source, your ESA letter will be considered invalid, and you won’t be eligible for any of the associated benefits.
Some examples of who can write a valid ESA letter include:
- Physicians Assistants
- Licensed Counselors
- Licensed Clinical Social Workers
- Psychiatric Mental Health Nurses
Before requesting a letter, you must ensure your chosen healthcare provider has a valid and appropriate license. We’ll often advise you to select a professional already familiar with you and your situation. If this isn’t possible, select the professional you are most comfortable with.
What’s Inside a Wisconsin ESA Letter
In addition to being provided by a licensed medical professional, for your ESA letter to be considered legitimate, it must contain a specific set of criteria. If any of this information is absent from the final letter, it will be invalidated. Your chosen healthcare professional must understand precisely what must be included.
These vital criteria include:
- The license type and number of your chosen healthcare professional
- The date their license was first issued
- The state the license was issued in and where they are permitted to practice
- Their complete contact information, including email, phone number, and practice address
- The date the letter was first issued
It must also print out on official letterhead to ensure legitimacy. If possible, we advise you to bring this information to your appointment when you request a letter, as your chosen professional may not be totally familiar with the process.
Benefits of Getting an ESA Letter in Wisconsin
Many benefits are associated with possessing your own ESA letter, though many benefits might not be immediately apparent. To help illustrate just how beneficial an ESA letter can be, we’ve listed some of the key appealing factors below. Some may surprise you!
Could Save You Money
Owning an official ESA letter validates the necessity of your animal by your side. This means that you should become exempt from paying pet fees, including application fees and pet deposits on accommodation. This may vary slightly based on the specific fee charged to you, but for the most part, your ESA letter can save you a lot of money.
Improves Your Chances of Accessing Limited Public Spaces
As any pet owner knows, some public spaces are not open to our furry friends. This is just a mild inconvenience for most pet owners, but when you need an emotional support animal by your side, this can be a real problem. It’s also frustrating because your ESA is so much more than merely a pet or companion. With an ESA letter, however, you may be able to access no-pet zones since it illustrates how your animal is not a pet.
Allows You to Live Almost Anywhere
In the same way that some public spaces do not permit animals, some rented properties possess the same restrictions. This can make finding a place to live a little tricky, as if it wasn’t already a challenging process. However, owning an ESA letter can alleviate some of that difficulty. Under the Fair Housing Act, landlords are not allowed to discriminate against you based on the presence of your ESA.
Helps You to Avoid Awkward Confrontations
Finally, but indeed a significant benefit, ESA letters may help you navigate uncomfortable conversations. Despite the prevalence of emotional support animals nationwide, many people still don’t fully understand their role. They may feel justified in asking invasive or judgmental questions about why you’re allowed to bring an animal into a no-pet zone. You shouldn’t have to deal with this, but if you do, having an ESA letter on hand is a great way to provide a valid explanation.
Emotional Support Animals Laws in Wisconsin
Besides understanding the benefits of owning an ESA letter, you must also understand the relevant legislation. If you don’t, you might be misled and end up disappointed when you face several legal restrictions. Listed below are three of the most relevant laws in Wisconsin relating to emotional support animals.
Changes to the Air Carrier Access Act
The first change we want to cover is the Air Carrier Access Act, which was amended in 2021. Before this amendment, emotional support animals received the same protections as service animals, meaning that your animal could accompany you on board your flight without obstructions. Unfortunately, this has changed, and although having your animal on board with you isn’t impossible, it is no longer a legal obligation. Airlines can refuse if they wish. We recommend checking with an airline prior to the flight for their rules, as they may vary.
You Aren’t Guaranteed Access to No-Pet Public Spaces
Although your ESA letter may grant you access to specific no-pet public spaces, it isn’t a legal guarantee in Wisconsin. Private businesses may still choose not to give you entry based on your animal’s presence, even if you present a valid ESA letter. However, despite this, it’s still better to own a letter as it provides legitimacy to your argument and could be used to persuade the establishment’s owner that your ESA won’t be a problem.
The Fair Housing Act Protects Your Right to Accommodation
Finally, one of the most critical pieces of legislation relating to emotional support animals is the Fair Housing Act. This states that housing providers cannot discriminate against you based on the presence of your ESA. Additionally, they cannot place breed restrictions on your emotional support animal. The only time you may run into issues is if your animal causes damage to the property or negatively impacts your neighbors. Otherwise, you’re protected!
How To Get An ESA Letter in Wisconsin: A Step-by-Step Guide
We’ve covered the benefits and the legislation; it’s time to walk you through how to obtain an ESA letter! Listed below are the three relatively simple steps you’ll need to take to get your own letter. Let’s jump in!
Think About Why You Need an ESA Letter
Explaining your situation to a medical professional can be nerve-wracking at the best of times, so preparation is critical. Consider why you need an ESA letter before attending your first appointment. If you need to, make notes and use this article as a guide! Ensure you fully understand why you would benefit from an ESA letter and its relevance to your daily life. This will make explaining your situation a more straightforward process, even if you’re nervous.
You can approach this in many different ways, either by creating a written or typed list – or by merely having the key elements in mind for when you attend your appointment. Remember, you can bring additional materials into your appointment as a reference, so don’t be afraid to go all out. Your healthcare professional will appreciate the extra information.
Attend An Appointment with Your Chosen Healthcare Professional
Once you feel like you fully understand why you need an ESA letter, it’s time to book your appointment. You must ensure that your chosen healthcare professional possesses the appropriate medical license to provide a legitimate ESA letter; otherwise, you won’t be eligible for the associated benefits. You can use the list we provided above as a reference.
It’s highly recommended that you choose someone who is already familiar with your situation, as this will make the appointment run more smoothly. If possible, aim to request a letter from someone who has written one before or has experience with emotional support animals. This is because the professional must include all relevant criteria in the ESA letter for it to be valid. Don’t be afraid to bring a template letter to your appointment as guidance.
Wait for Your Letter to Arrive
Finally, once your appointment concludes, you only need to wait for your letter to arrive! This will likely be through post, email, or both. Depending on how busy your chosen healthcare professional is, this process may take a while but try to be patient.
If you reach two weeks past your appointment and still have no letter, contact your chosen care provider. They may have forgotten to complete the letter, gotten distracted, or there may have been a delivery issue. Don’t be afraid to follow up!
Emotional support animals change the lives of millions nationwide, either through direct support or by providing support to loved ones. However, without the correct documentation, you may be unable to access essential benefits or receive protection from relevant legislation.
By obtaining your own ESA letter, you can ensure that you have tangible evidence proving the necessity of your animal by your side. It’s an extra layer of protection for you and your ESA, so contact your chosen healthcare professional today! You could be surprised by the difference it may make to your life.