How To Register Dog As An Emotional Support Animal
An emotional support animal is a priceless friend for individuals dealing with mental trauma or stress. An Emotional Support Animal provides invaluable support, from offering routine stability and companionship to acting as a trusted guide.
In addition to that, they offer unconditional and non-judgemental love, which makes them all the more perfect. However, you should note that ESAs (Emotional Support Animals) are not therapy animals or service pets. Instead, they have special legal allowances.
(Here’s a spoiler: you do not need to ‘register’ your emotional support dog!)
The ESA registration process will unlock multiple benefits for you. Understandably, the process isn’t obvious to everyone. Read ahead as this article explores how you can register your canine as an ESA.
How Is Service/Therapy Animal from ESA?
Before we move on to the registration process, let’s clear the air.
Firstly, you have to understand what makes emotional support dogs different from other types of ‘specialty’ animals. You might have heard of therapy animals or service animals. However, ESA and these special animals are two different concepts.
Emotional support animals offer their caregiver’s multiple therapeutic benefits.
Many people confuse it with psychiatric service dogs. Psychiatric service dogs help people to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder and phobias.
On the other hand, emotional support dogs support their human companions with love and companionship.
If you have a pet at home, you’ll know that animals are uniquely suited to connect with humans on a deep level. A person might first go to their pet when they require a shoulder to cry on or a non-judgemental listener.
You should also know that therapy or service animals go through training to offer this kind of support.
Though they offer incredible support, emotional support dogs lie somewhere between standard pets and therapy dogs. Also, you should not expect emotional support dogs to have a range of legal rights, although they have a few.
Which Disabilities Qualify for an Emotional Support Dog?
To qualify your canine as an ESA, your therapist will run a disability examination. They will try to understand how and if an ESD (emotional support dog) is mandatory for your mental health.
Disabilities that qualify for an ESD include:
- Panic attacks
What Are Emotional Support Animal Rights?
You might be curious about the multiple legal rights of an ESA before you move on to register them. Primarily, the right of an emotional support dog is relegated to two areas – housing and travel.
One of the most beneficial rights is that they enjoy unrestricted air travel. You do not have to pay any additional fees or require a carrier for air travel. Because of these special allowances, they have become a subject of debate.
Emotional support dogs and their caregivers have certain legal rights above and beyond standard pets. For individuals who rely on them, these rights are critical and invaluable.
Below, we’ve discussed its rights in detail:
Housing Rights for Emotional Support Dogs
In January 2020, the US Department of Housing released new guidance concerning ESA accommodation in housing. HUD’s guidance confirms that landlords should provide reasonable accommodation to people who hold authentic-ESA letters.
Moreover, this letter should come from a licensed health care practitioner. HUD specifically warns people against sites that cell registrations, licenses, and certification regarding this.
HUD also confirmed that a licensed healthcare professional could offer ESA certifications both remotely and online. The scope of online certification is ideal for people who cannot visit a therapist or a professional.
Travel Rights for Emotional Support Dogs
The US Department of Transportation rolled out new rules for its air travel. These new rules went into effect on 11th January 2021.
Owing to these new rules, airlines no longer have an obligation to accommodate them. But, the airlines can continue to offer the benefits voluntarily. However, the airlines still have to grant access to Psychiatric Service Dogs.
Many airline companies have ended the ESA programs after the implementation of rules. For airline travels that do not accept them anymore, your pet may only board the flight if it meets the airline’s requirements.
These days, you also might have to pay a fee to board your pet on the flight. It is mandatory to check with the airline about the latest policies. Each airline has a varying policy regarding emotional support dogs.
Registering an ESA
Let’s get to the meat of the matter.
Well, there is no official registration database for ESA’s. Instead, if you want to register your canine as an ESA, you’ll need a letter from a certified mental health professional.
If you do not consult a mental health provider, you have two ways to go about it – use an online ESA letter service or make an appointment with a mental health provider.
You can opt for ESA letter services such as:
- ESA Doctors
- Emotional Pet Support
It is worth mentioning that these services can cost you money. Additionally, you have to sit for a mental health checkup to complete the registration process.
Once have registered your canine as an ESA, make sure to keep the letter handy. Most airlines and housing owners might ask you for the letter.
Under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), homeowners cannot discriminate against individuals who use canines for assistance. However, without the letter, the landlord has the complete authority to say no.
Though it is not mandatory, you also have to purchase an ESA vest for your pet.
Here are the steps to certify your emotional support dog:
- Identify your need for them
- Connect with a licensed healthcare practitioner or mental health professional
- You also have to demonstrate your need for an emotional support dog
- Obtain a letter from the licensed healthcare practitioners
What Should an ESA Letter Contain?
You already know that you require a letter from a licensed professional to register your canine as an ESA. If your pet qualifies, an ESA letter from your LMPH (licensed mental health professional) will:
- Openly explain the requirements for an emotional support animal
- Include the practitioner’s license number
- LMPH’s date of signing
- LMPH’s signature
- Be authentic – i.e., written on a professional letterhead
- signed by a mental health provider or qualified physician
Note that you also have to renew the ESA letter every year for air travel purposes. Besides, having an ESA letter is mandatory if you opt for a property with ‘no pet’ policies. For airlines that continue to accept ESA’s, this letter will help you escape additional fees.
Playing with animals is indeed one of the most therapeutic sessions. Several studies and research show that a ‘helping paw’ can combat mental distress and anxiety in humans. Registering your canine as an emotional support animal is perhaps an incredible thought.
Besides, canines are the most loving and generous animals stressed individuals could have around them.
Emotional support dogs can play an important role in a person’s life with emotional or mental concerns. Thankfully, registering your pup as an ESA is no big task. Hopefully, this article helped you to understand how to register a dog as an emotional support animal.