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Are Therapy Dogs Emotional Support Animals

Are Therapy Dogs Emotional Support Animals?

If you struggle with mental illness, you may want to consider an emotional support animal to help you manage symptoms. In that case, it is necessary to understand the difference between an emotional support dog, a psychiatric service dog, and a therapy dog.

Therapy dogs are not the same as service dogs. They also differ from emotional support animals. A therapy dog doesn’t provide support and comfort to its owner. These animals are trained to volunteer with their owners in various settings such as nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospitals, schools, etc., to improve the lives of people with disabilities.

Therapy dogs need to be trained to perform specific tasks to assist people with disabilities and acquire good manners and social skills. They also have to be certified from and registered in a reputable national organization such as Alliance Therapy Dogs, Pet Partners, Therapy Dogs International, etc.

Therapy dogs differ from emotional support animals, which don’t have to undergo specific training. Emotional support animals only require an ESA letter or prescription from your doctor or licensed mental health professional.

How Do You Qualify for an Emotional Support Animal?

To qualify for an emotional support animal, you need to have an emotional or mental health disability that limits your normal daily activities. A licensed mental health care provider, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist, must certify that you have such a condition by issuing an ESA letter.

Emotional support animals help alleviate the symptoms of anxiety, depression, and loneliness, boost your mood and increase social support feelings. Their companionship has proven to be a significant addition to therapy in people with mental illnesses.

Can You Buy a Trained Emotional Support Dog?

Yes, you can. An ESA prescription letter from a licensed mental health care professional allows you to adopt a trained emotional support dog from a local animal shelter or a responsible breeder. Bonding with an emotional support animal can bring you a sense of comfort and well-being in times of stress.

Is an ESA a Therapy Dog?

No. Emotional support animals are not the same as therapy dogs. ESA provides support and comfort to their handlers. Therapy dogs are trained to assist people with disabilities other than their owners.

Throughout the training, therapy dogs learn to perform specific tasks to assist people with disabilities and acquire good manners and social skills. They also differ from service dogs, who are recognized under the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) and have full public access.

Can a Landlord Deny an Emotional Support Animal?

No, they cannot. Your landlord or property manager cannot deny an emotional support animal just because they don’t allow pets. You may want to submit an ESA letter to your landlord and request accommodations before signing the lease. When you are granted an ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional, you don’t have to pay a pet deposit or monthly fee.

How Much Does an ESA Cost?

Emotional support animals cost as any other animal. However, suppose you require an emotional support animal. In that case, you need to obtain an ESA letter from a licensed mental health care professional such as a psychologist, psychiatrist, psychotherapist, clinical social worker, or licensed counselor.

Can I Get an Emotional Support Dog for Anxiety?

Yes, you can get an emotional support dog for anxiety if your mental health disability impairs everyday functioning. If you are experiencing stress, anxiety, and depression, explain to your doctor or therapist why you believe an ESA would benefit your therapy. An ESA prescription allows you to travel or live with your emotional support dog in housings that otherwise would not let you keep animals in your apartment.

Do I Qualify for an ESA?

If you have a disabling mental health condition such as anxiety, panic disorder, phobia, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder, you may qualify for an emotional support animal under federal law.

An ESA can be a dog, cat, rabbit, miniature horse, hamster, ferret, bearded dragon, bird, or other small animals that provide comfort and support only with their companionship. An ESA letter from a doctor or a licensed mental health professional establishes that you have a disability (visible or invisible) and that an emotional support animal can alleviate your illness symptoms.

An ESA letter allows you to live with your emotional support animal in housings that otherwise would not allow pets. You are also entitled to fly with your ESA in the aircraft cabin free of additional charge.

Do Emotional Support Animals Fly Free?

Yes. Your emotional support animal can join you in the aircraft cabin free of charge. However, keep in mind that you have to renew an ESA letter for air travel annually, as these letters expire in one year.

According to the Air Carrier Access Act, airlines can request ESA letters no older than one year. However, you don’t have to carry a hardcopy of the ESA letter on a flight. Your health provider will provide a digital copy of your ESA letter containing their contact and license information that an airline can use to verify the letter’s authenticity.

Do I Have to Tell My Landlord about My ESA?

Almost all housing providers must accept emotional support animals under federal Fair Housing rules, so you are not obliged to tell your landlord about your ESA. As emotional support animals are not considered pets, building’s standard policies regarding pets do not apply to ESA.

However, it is an excellent idea to let your landlord know about your emotional support animal and give them an ESA letter before you sign the lease. ESA letters for housing purposes technically do not expire under Fair Housing rules. But some landlords can demand a more recent dated letter.

Is Fast ESA Letter Legit?

Fast ESA letter is considered a trusted source for obtaining an ESA letter, as long as your ESA letter is issued by a licensed healthcare professional.

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