How to Get Your Dog Certified as a Service Dog — Emotional Support Animal Letter | ESA Letter for Housing | Paws and Whiskers (2023)

Our animal companions have proven to be an easy, safe, and natural remedy to depression, anxiety, panic attacks, PTSD, and more. Unfortunately, housing and travel restrictions often make it difficult for you to live your life to its fullest.

By receiving a prescription from one of the top recommended therapists for an Emotional Support Animal Letter, you’ll never have to compromise where you live or where you travel again. Signing up for an Emotional Support Animal Letter assessment with one of the top recommended therapists is quick, easy, and applies to animals of all shapes and sizes. Get a legitimate emotional support animal letter from a certified therapist, and be on your way to living stress and worry free with your Emotional Support Animal.

Emotional service dogs are dogs that provide comfort and support in forms of affection and companionship for an individual suffering from various mental and emotional conditions. An emotional support dog is not required to perform any specific tasks for a disability like service dogs are. They are meant solely for emotional stability and unconditional love. They can assist with conditions such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder/mood disorder, panic attacks, fear/phobias, and other psychological and emotional conditions.

Emotional service dogs are protected under federal law

Under the Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA) and the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), an individual who meets the proper criteria is entitled to an emotional service dog to assist them with their life. The FHAA protects individuals by allowing their emotional service dog to live with them (even when there are no pet policies in place). The ACAA protects individuals by allowing the emotional service dog to fly with them in the cabin of an airplane (without having to pay any additional fees). Any dog can be an emotional service dog, and emotional service dogs do not have to be professionally-trained.

A Medical Recommendation is Required for an ESA Dog

You are required to have a letter from a doctor or mental health professional recommending that you have an emotional service dog for your condition. You may be asked to present this letter by airline staff when flying or by your landlord when renting a home.

Identifying emotional service dogs for the public

(Video) Support Animals

Emotional support dogs are often identified by wearing an emotional support dog vest or tag, letting the public know that it is an emotional support dog; otherwise, their handlers will find themselves having to explain that their dog is an emotional support dog. Some businesses, such as airlines, prefer to see an identification card or vest that indicates that the dog is an emotional service dog.

Living With Your Emotional Service Dog

The Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA) gives individuals the right to live with their emotional support dog regardless of any building or residences with a no-pet policy. Building managers or landlords may not refuse your emotional service dog. You are required to have a current (within the past year) letter from a doctor or mental health professional recommending that you have an emotional service dog for your condition.

Flying With Your Emotional Service Dog

The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) allows emotional service dogs on airplanes when individuals with emotional service dogs are traveling. A written note from a doctor or mental health professional is required by the airlines that is not more than one year old. Also, your emotional support dog must be trained to behave appropriately in a public setting. There is no additional charge to travel with your emotional service dog. You should let your airline know 48 hours before your scheduled departure that you are bringing an emotional service dog so that they can make the proper accommodations for you.

The Fair Housing Act is a regulation that stops landlords from discriminating against residents based on their age, gender, religion, race, and disabilities. According to the Fair Housing Act policies on emotional support animals, occupants suffering from trauma or emotional disabilities are given the opportunity to alleviate anxiety or depressive symptoms through the usage of a support animal.

Landlords are required by the Fair Housing Act to make practical accommodations for emotional support animals. The laws under the FHA prohibit the restrictions of an animal’s breed, species, or weight. Even landlords who offer a “cats only” policy must accommodate any emotional supporting or service animal regardless of the animal’s breed or weight. Actually, if the occupant’s ESA is part of the housing’s restricted breed or weight, the landlord is required to make a modification to the rules in order to accommodate the tenant to the best of their ability.
The Fair Housing Act blocks discrimination against leaseholders because of any disabilities.

The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA)

The Air Carrier Access Act is a law that stops air carriers (airlines) from discriminating against travelers because of their age, gender, religion, race, and disabilities. Due to the Air Carrier Access Act rules for emotional support animals, passengers who are diagnosed with any DSM IV or DSM V emotional disability are allowed to ride in the cabin of the plane with their support animal with no extra fee but you must produce your esa letter.

Under the laws set forth by the Air Carrier Access Act, air carriers must make adequate accommodations for emotional support animals. Also, this act cannot prohibit a certain breed or make weight restrictions for a majority of animal species. While dogs and cats have no problems getting on board with their owner, there are selective kinds of animals, such as snakes and other reptiles, which have previously not been permitted to board international and domestic flights. Due to this ability of restriction, airlines request that the passenger checks ahead of time to make sure their animal is allowed on board.

How Does One Qualify for an Emotional Service Dog?

The FHA laws for ESA’s states that a certified mental health expert must believe a person to be emotionally disabled in order for that person to qualify for an emotional support animal. The practicing therapist or psychiatrist must compose a prescription for the animal, which must include the following information:

  • The patient under the care of said therapist

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  • The patient is currently being treated for their mental or emotional disability

  • That there is at least one daily activity that is limited by the disability

  • That the treatment is being prescribed by the aid of anESA

In order for the prescription to be deemed legitimate, the document must: be on the doctor’s letterhead, be signed and dated, and include these following items:

If a person does not have a certified mental health therapist, you can find one online in order to determine if they need a support animal.

Can Landlords and/or Airlines Charge Pet Fees?

Under the laws stated by the FHA and ACAA, occupants and airline passengers who require the aid of an emotional support animal cannot be charged pet fees. Also, landlords and airlines cannot legally charge deposits or any other charges to a person because of their support animal.

A Person’s Legal Rights to Housing

Thanks to the Fair Housing Act, any property that prohibits any type of animal must accommodate a tenant’s emotional support animal. Any person who owns a service dog prescribed by a mental health professional has rights concerning anti-discrimination. The FHA allows the acceptance of emotional service dogs in different homes. This law applies to all public housing, despite excluding the following types of properties:

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Rental housing with less than four units, in which one is occupied by the owner; single family homes that are rented or sold with no aid from a broker; and privately owned housing by a club or religious organization that restricts occupancy to group members.

A letter or document from a therapist or physician is required for a person to own a dog, cat, or any other animal classified as a support animal. Even if a landlord or property supervisor has a “no pets” rule, the FHA states that the service or support animal must be allowed. Due to the differences in lawful classification of assistance animals and pets, any and all pet fees and limitations are waived.

Examples of different support animals include a dog that helps its owner deal with the symptoms of depression, a cat that notifies its owner of approaching seizures, and a bird that alarms its hearing compromised owner to surrounding sounds.

Despite the excess of laws requiring landlords to provide an ESA with reasonable accommodations, these laws do not extend to the use of hotels, motels, stores, and/or restaurants. That is because these places are not considered as dwellings by the FHA for the function of laws protecting the usage of emotional animals. Instead, these places treat the support animal as a pet and do not grant it any further rights.

Rules Concerning The Training of Emotional Support Animals

Emotional support animals are not required by the FHA to be trained. This is due to the fact that the animal’s company alone acts as an alleviating factor in aiding the owner deal with emotional impairments, including depression and anxiety.

Documents to be Provided to Landlords for your ESA

The patient is required by law to provide a letter by a physician to the landlord that states that the animal is prescribed as a treatment program that aids in lessening the person’s symptoms. If the landlord does not receive such letter, the patient displaying said animal as an emotional support animal in order to go around pet restrictions will be violating federal law.
Every landlord and property manager has the legal right to verify the disability with the mental health professional. If the landlord does verify the disability, he or she must accommodate the occupant’s application to have an emotional support animal. Failing to accommodate such animal is a violation of federal law because the landlord would be discriminating against a disabled person.

The Abilities of Landlords Pertaining to ESA

Under the laws of the Fair Housing Act, landlords are not permitted to perform certain actions including the following:

Landlords rights:

  • Charge fees for any damage caused by the support animal

  • Evict a disabled person with a support animal if said person is unable to manage the animal

  • Determine if a certain breed of dog is a direct threat to other residents based on the animal’s conduct and not general statements of said breed

If the landlord’s insurance company places restrictions on certain breeds, the accommodation must then be made on a case-specific basis. If the insurance company would increase the landlord’s rates or cancel the policy, the Department of Housing and Human Development (HUD) states that it may give the landlord a financial burden. If the insurance company does not have any regulations that allow emotional support animals, it is possible that they will be investigated for discriminating against people with disabilities.

Proper Clean up Following Occupancy

People with emotional support animals must comply if their landlord requires a deposit from all tenants. Occupancy with all landlords requires that the property is maintained with regard to clean up. In the case of damage by the ESA, the landlord is allowed to retrieve the cost of damages through the tenant’s security deposit.
All owners of emotional support animals are legally required to clean up after their animals just like any pet owner. Cost of repairs may be taken if the animal has damaged the house or area more than what is deemed to be normal wear and tear.

Filing ESA Complaints

If an occupant feels that their rights pertaining to their request of an emotional support animal has been violated, they are able to seek legal counsel. They must first make sure that the landlord is fully aware of the laws for emotional support animals since many landlords are unfamiliar with said laws. In many cases, landlords violate the law from simple ignorance, however, that is not taken into consideration by the Justice Department.
If a landlord refuses to obey the law, the complaint should be filed with the United States Justice Department. In order for the complaint to be filed, the person with the claim must report the landlord to the Justice Department along with filing a discrimination complaint. Also, the person may seek a lawsuit against the landlord for discrimination, which could end with disciplinary damages.

If the client does not want to file with the Justice Department, they can file a complaint through the HUD. A HUD discrimination form must be printed and sent into the department in order to bring a complaint against the landlord.

Closing Statements

A large amount of mental health professionals see the need for patients to have an emotional support animal. Thanks to the FHA, landlords are not allowed to discriminate against any persons with disabilities. People with the aid of ESA are not given pet fees. Federal law prevents landlords from rejecting applications to a person with an Emotional Support Animal. Violation of the federal law is punishable by legal action against the landlord.

Since ESA’s bring countless benefits to patients, they should not be punished with any extra fees. Landlords may place limitations on certain public areas accessible to emotional support animals, however, they are prohibited from discriminating against a person’s need to request such an animal.

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How to Get Your Dog Certified as a Service Dog Quickly

Do you need an ESA Letter quickly for your Emotional Service Dog? Quick and easy registration here!


How do I get an emotional support animal letter? ›

One way to get an ESA letter is to visit a licensed mental health professional. A licensed mental health professional can be a clinical psychologist, psychiatrist, therapist, or counselor. First, you must go in for an evaluation in person to see if you are indeed qualified for an ESA.

How do you prove your dog is an emotional support animal? ›

To promote your pet to the status of an “emotional support animal”, or ESA, all you need is a therapist's letter asserting the animal contributes to your psychological wellbeing.

How do I make my dog an emotional support dog for free? ›

To present a pet – whether a dog, a ferret or a snake – as an emotional support animal, all one has to do is provide a letter written by a licensed mental health practitioner attesting to the psychological benefit of that pet's presence.

How do you get an emotional support animal in Georgia? ›

The only way to qualify for an emotional support animal in Georgia is by obtaining an ESA letter from a Georgia licensed healthcare professional.
Those who fall under that title include:
  1. licensed clinical social workers (LCSW),
  2. licensed nurses,
  3. physicians,
  4. psychiatrists, and.
  5. psychologists.
7 Sept 2021

What do I say to my doctor to get an ESA letter? ›

Asking Your Doctor
  1. Schedule an Appointment. ...
  2. Discuss symptoms you may be experiencing. ...
  3. Allow the doctor to make recommendations. ...
  4. Ask if they have seen emotional support animals bring about good results. ...
  5. Discuss this as an option. ...
  6. Get recommendations for an LMHP.

Does ESA letter expire? ›

The ESA letter you receive for Housing has no expiration date and is valid for the full term of your lease or ownership.


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