Criteria for Getting Emotional Support Animal and How They Differ from Service Dogs

Service dogs had been used exclusively by people suffering from physical disabilities. Today, they are used by people struggling with mental illnesses like anxiety, depression, and PTSD [Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder].

According to the American with Disability Act [ADA], the disabled person has to fulfill one or more of the given principles.

  • A mental or physical impairment, which limits the performing of life functions significantly.
  • History of a disability that fulfills this description.
  • Others can witness the impairment that justifies the narrative.

Physical disability is obvious in the form of using a wheelchair or a cane but an invisible disability is not apparent immediately. Invisible ability is an umbrella word for medical conditions either neurological or psychological that are indiscernible to onlookers, for example – depression. If your depression fulfills the ADA’s criteria, then you are eligible to choose a psychiatric service animal.

An emotional support animal {ESA} and psychiatric service animal

Both are different. A service animal is trained to identify and perform their handler’s disability to do a single of more life activities. The ADA offers protection to service animals. They can access public areas, where their handler goes. They are not considered pets.

On the other hand, an ESA is a pet that offers comfort [emotional support] to its owner. They don’t need to be trained. ADA doesn’t cover ESAs, so they cannot have legal access to public areas but are covered under the Air Carrier Act and Fair Housing Act. It means you will need an ESA recommendation for living in a house and traveling in an aircraft with your ESA. Therefore, the big question arises on how to get your pet registered as an emotional support animal?

Emotional support animals offer companionship and comfort. Usually, cats or dogs are chosen as ESAs but can even include other animals like rabbits, rats or birds. To get your pet certified as ESA, there will be a need for connecting with a psychological health professional online or locally. An ESA letter is the certification that states that you need an ESA for your specific condition.

The letter from a licensed mental doctor includes –

  • The license number of the doctor in question
  • The letterhead on which the doctor will write in his/her own
  • The letter has to be signed and dated by the doctor

Remember that, the ESA letter will be valid for only one year, after which there will be a need to renew it. Get the support and love from an emotional support animal!