Specifications & Laws For Emotional Support Animals
You guessed it – these types of animals are pets that act as companions to alleviate symptoms stemming from physical, mental, or psychological disorders. They are specifically prescribed to people with individuals with disabilities diagnosed by licensed psychiatrists or professional medical staffs. The purpose of the animal is thus to provide relief to their owner as a form of companion therapy.
What is a Service Animal?
Simply put, a service animal performs a service for a person when their owner physically cannot or has problems with. They are available to help out somebody with a disability, whether they are for eyesight or walking. They are not meant for companionship and cannot really viewed as pets since their purpose serves a greater need for the person.
The Americans with Disabilities Act essentially has three requirements for a dog to be labeled as a service dog:
- The person helped must have a life-limiting disability.
- The dog must be trained to recognize and respond to the handler’s disability by doing either work or tasks.
- Third, the dog must not cause public disturbances.
How does this differ from an ESA?
The animal does not need to go through specific training, but will be prescribed by a medical professional based on your condition. Laws which govern service animals do not all apply to therapy animals, so there may be more restrictions on where the animal may be allowed. For the most part, they are protected by law in important situations such as living and traveling.
What pets can qualify as an Emotional Support Animal?
Since therapy pets do not have to be formally trained, there are many pets that can qualify. In fact, there does not seem to be any limit to which animals can qualify as long as the animal has ample accommodations and does not cause disturbances. Let’s take a look at some animals that offer this type of comforting.
Dogs and Cats
The most common pets that are first considered for support are the pets that are most likely to be part of the family already. Dogs and cats have the benefit of being domesticated already and therefore make them easier for a person to have around. Both cats and dogs have the ability to make strong bonds with their owners which translates into being great support animals. There are also tons of variants of cats and dogs to fit your temperament.
Birds are great pets for many reasons. For starters, they are extremely smart creatures with some even having the ability to speak and repeat words in our spoken language. They also require very little room and grooming, so caring for one does not take very much work. Lastly, they have long lifespans so they will remain part of your life for many years. And just like cats and dogs, there are many species of the avian species to choose from.
Having other animals is not unheard of, but it is important to keep the well-being of the animal in mind. If you live in a more rural area with acres to roam, a horse may be suitable to work as your therapy animal. If you have an ample backyard with a ton of grass area, a pig may suit your needs. If you live in a small apartment, maybe a snake or hamster works best for you.
Who can legally obtain an ESA letter?
Not everybody can turn their pet in an legal support animal. This privilege are reserved for people who suffer from symptoms of psychological, emotional, or mental disorders. These people must first be evaluated by a licensed medical professional or therapist. Once the person is evaluated by the therapist or medical professional, then they will be recommended this type of animal support system. (Usually a person will be prescribed only one animal, but in some cases there might be more.)
There is a gamut of diagnoses that a person can receive an letter for. Here is just a few of the disorders that a person may be prescribed this type of aniaml:
- Anxiety (both adult and children)
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Social Phobia
- And many more.
The certified letter is to represent that your pet is not just for fun, but rather a treatment for the emotional or psychological disorder that you have been diagnosed with.
How long does the certified letter application process take?
You start the process by taking a simple 5-minute questionnaire. We then link you with a licensed therapist to have a chat about your situation. If you are approved, you can print a digital copy of your letter or have one mail to you as quickly as 24 hours. The whole process takes as little as 72 hours!
Once obtainable, what are the laws governing this privilege?
As mentioned above, these type of animals are not protected as much as service animals. Still it is possible to enter public places with approval from the owner of those places. There are two main laws that allow the pet to travel and live in all housing; The Air Carrier Access Act and the Fair Housing Act.
The Air Carrier Access Act
The Air Carrier Access Act, air carriers, both foreign and domestic, cannot discriminate passengers on the basis of mental or physical disabilities. This gives would-be passengers to ability to fly with their emotional service animal without extra fees or putting in the cargo holds.
The Fair Housing Act
The Fair Housing Act makes it viable to live with your emotional support animal without discrimination. Under the act, if a renter or seller puts up their listing as restricting the keeping of animals, the person who acts as landlord must make “reasonable accommodation” to allow animals who perform a service or support their owners. It also protects the person from paying extra fees or restricting breed and size requirements.