FAQs About Service Dogs and Emotional Support Animals

Have questions about service dogs and emotional support animals? Look no further. Our FAQs cover a wide range of topics, including the distinction between service dogs and ESAs, the legal rights and benefits associated with owning a service dog, the Fair Housing Act and its application to ESAs, travel regulations for ESAs, and much more. Get the answers you need to navigate the world of service dogs and ESAs confidently.

No, emotional support animals (ESAs) are not considered service animals. While both serve important roles in providing support to individuals, service animals are specifically trained to perform tasks or work directly related to a person’s disability. ESAs, on the other hand, provide therapeutic companionship and emotional support but are not trained to perform specific tasks.

The main difference lies in their training and the tasks they are trained to perform. Service animals undergo specialized training to assist individuals with disabilities, such as guiding individuals who are visually impaired, alerting individuals with hearing loss, or providing mobility assistance. Emotional support animals, on the other hand, do not require specialized training and primarily offer emotional comfort and support.

Unlike service animals, emotional support animals do not require specific certification or documentation. However, individuals with emotional support animals may need to provide an ESA letter issued by a licensed medical provider. This letter states that the person has a diagnosed mental health condition and that the emotional support animal provides therapeutic benefits as part of their treatment plan. The ESA letter helps individuals access housing and travel accommodations under the protections of the FHA and ACAA, respectively.

An ESA letter provides numerous benefits to individuals seeking emotional support. It grants legitimacy and accommodation, allowing you to live with your emotional support animal in housing with pet restrictions and providing certain travel accommodations. Emotional support animals offer companionship, comfort, and a sense of security, helping to reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression, and stress. They contribute to improved well-being by reducing loneliness, boosting mood, and increasing social interaction. Additionally, emotional support animals can complement traditional therapy, enhance treatment plans, and promote a sense of purpose, responsibility, and connection, ultimately leading to an enhanced quality of life. It’s important to consult with a licensed medical provider to determine if an emotional support animal is suitable for your specific needs.

The Fair Housing Act (FHA) is a federal law in the United States that prohibits housing discrimination based on disability. It applies to most housing providers, including landlords, property managers, and housing agencies. Under the FHA, individuals with disabilities are granted certain rights and accommodations, including the ability to live with their emotional support animals (ESAs) or service dogs, even in housing facilities with no-pet policies.

The FHA recognizes ESAs as a reasonable accommodation for individuals with disabilities. To qualify for an ESA Letter, the person must have a diagnosed psychological or emotional disorder, and their mental health professional must provide a letter stating that an ESA is necessary to alleviate symptoms or provide support. Landlords and housing providers are generally required to make reasonable accommodations by waiving pet restrictions or additional fees for ESAs.

Service dogs, on the other hand, are specifically trained to assist individuals with disabilities and are protected under the ADA rather than the FHA. However, the FHA does still apply to service dogs in housing situations. Service dog owners are entitled to reasonable accommodations, such as allowing the service dog to reside with them, regardless of any pet policies or restrictions in place.

It’s important to note that while the FHA provides protections for individuals with disabilities and their assistance animals, there may be specific requirements and documentation needed to qualify for these accommodations. It is advisable to consult with housing providers and be familiar with the applicable laws to ensure compliance and a smooth process when requesting accommodations for emotional support animals or service dogs.

The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) governs the transportation of service animals, including Emotional Support Animals (ESAs), on flights.

However, please note that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced new rules regarding the transportation of service animals by air, effective from January 11, 2021. Under the new rules, the definition of a service animal is specifically a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability. This rule no longer includes an explicit provision for emotional support animals to be considered as service animals. Therefore, airlines are not federally required to permit emotional support animals on flights in the same way as they are for service animals.

Each airline, though, may have its own policies regarding the transportation of emotional support animals. So, it’s important to check with the specific airline when planning to travel with an ESA.

We understand the need for a quick turnaround. With Wellness Wag, you can receive your ESA letter in as fast as 24 hours! If you require expedited service, select our “Express Service” option during checkout.

To ensure a speedy process, promptly sign and submit our consent forms, which will be emailed to you after payment. These forms allow us to connect you with a therapist in your state.

Our extensive network of licensed medical providers, available across states, enables us to match you with someone who can meet your timeline needs. Once the consultation is concluded, most letters are turned around within 24 hours or even faster.

After consulting with a licensed medical provider and obtaining your ESA letter, you can designate any breed or species of animal as your emotional support animal. It can be an existing pet or a new one you adopt or rescue. You are not required to acquire your animal from a specific breeder or place.

Please note that an ESA letter only covers one animal, so you cannot use it to cover multiple pets.

Ensuring Legitimacy – Our ESA letters are legitimate due to the following factors:

Licensed Professionals in Your State – Our team consists of licensed medical providers who are fully qualified and have passed board exams. We carefully select an licensed medical provider who is legally qualified to approve ESA Letters for your specific state.

Phone Consultation – Our professionals establish a relationship with you through a phone consultation. This interaction gives them the authority and basis for prescribing you an ESA letter.

Compliant Letters – The ESA Letter is issued directly from a licensed licensed medical provider, containing their license number and contact information. The letter is written on the professional letterhead and includes everything legally required for an ESA prescription.

While the Fair Housing Act and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development do not specify guidelines regarding ESA letter expiration, we recommend renewing your letter annually for the following reasons:

  • Landlords may refuse an expired ESA letter, so renewing provides current documentation.
  • Clinicians may not validate an expired ESA letter when contacted by a landlord, so an annual consultation keeps recommendations current.
  • Renewing your letter is easy through our seamless consultation process.

To comply with federal and state laws, we conduct live consultations over the phone to properly vet and qualify individuals for an ESA letter. Our consultations are conducted by licensed medical providers, ensuring the validity of your letter.

No, you cannot register multiple pets with the same ESA letter. Each emotional support animal requires its own individual ESA letter. The ESA letter is specific to the individual and their unique needs. It is not a blanket certification that covers multiple animals. The letter is issued by a licensed mental health professional after assessing your condition and determining the therapeutic benefits of an emotional support animal for you. Therefore, if you have multiple pets that serve as emotional support animals, you will need a separate ESA letter for each one of them. Each letter will outline the specific animal and the support it provides to you. It’s important to adhere to this requirement to ensure that your rights and accommodations are properly recognized and upheld.

Absolutely! An emotional support animal can be any breed or species as long as it provides support for an emotional or psychological condition.

Keep in mind that local laws regarding specific exotic animals must still be followed. Certain species, such as bats, alligators, hedgehogs, or skunks, are illegal to own in any capacity within the United States and cannot be designated as emotional support animals.

Once you possess a proper ESA Letter, your landlord is obligated by the Fair Housing Act to allow you to keep your designated emotional support animal with you at your residence.

If your landlord has questions about the letter received through our service, you can refer them to speak with a member of our team or the licensed medical provider whose contact information is listed on your letter.

An ESA letter allows you to have an emotional support animal of your choice in any housing you decide to reside in, regardless of the landlord’s pet policies. If questioned by your landlord, you can refer them to the Fair Housing Act, which explicitly protects your right to have an emotional support animal with a valid ESA letter.

The general requirement to be eligible for an Emotional Support Animal is having an emotional or psychological condition that benefits from the supportive presence of an animal. This could include conditions such as depression, generalized anxiety disorder, paranoia, insomnia, among others. It’s important to note that Emotional Support Animals aren’t required to undergo specific training!

Only a certified mental health professional or licensed medical provider can confirm if you fit these criteria. With our service, you can directly consult with such a professional in your resident state. Pettable facilitates your connection with a licensed mental health expert for an assessment to see if you’re eligible for an ESA. Unlike some other less reputable services, we don’t just sell letters for a fee, but instead, we link you with a professional for an earnest evaluation.

but the documents they provide do not comply with U.S. federal and state laws.

One common scam involves sites falsely offering to certify service animals (which are distinct from emotional support animals) without requiring the standard testing or certification typically involved in the process. The U.S. authorities have increased enforcement against such fraud, imposing substantial fines or even imprisonment on those caught.

Here are some indicators to help you identify potential scams:

If the service does not necessitate a live interaction over the phone or video, be wary – All legitimate providers of ESA Letters are legally required to ensure you converse with a licensed medical provider either over the phone or via video. If a service simply asks you to respond to a questionnaire or “exam” but doesn’t request a live consultation afterward, it’s likely a scam. Pettable does not offer diagnoses on purchase but refers you to a licensed professional who performs a live assessment and provides a legitimate ESA letter based on their professional judgment.

Although Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) often form part of a medical therapy program, they are not recognized as Service Animals under the ADA. ESAs offer companionship, mitigate feelings of isolation, and can often assist with conditions such as depression, anxiety, and certain phobias. However, they don’t undergo specialized training to perform specific tasks that aid people with physical, emotional, or mental disabilities, like Service Animals do. Therefore, ESAs and their owners do not fall under the ADA’s purview.

Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) do not have the same broad public access rights as service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Unlike service animals, ESAs are not allowed to go anywhere the public normally has access to, such as restaurants, stores, or hotels.

The main legal protections for ESAs in the United States are under the Fair Housing Act and the Air Carrier Access Act. The Fair Housing Act requires landlords and property managers to make reasonable accommodations for people with ESAs, even in housing with “no pets” policies. The Air Carrier Access Act used to require airlines to allow ESAs in the cabin, but new rules from the U.S. Department of Transportation, as of January 2021, state that airlines are not required to treat ESAs differently than pets.

However, individual businesses and private entities can choose to allow ESAs if they wish. Always check with the business or venue before bringing an ESA to a public place.

It’s important to note that rules and regulations can change, and there may also be relevant state or local laws to consider. Always check the current laws in your area or consult with a legal expert if you’re unsure.

We’ve got you covered!

In the event your landlord wants to validate your letter, our mental health professionals and customer support team are available to speak with them. Your landlord can contact your therapist using the information provided on your ESA letter.

If your landlord would like to speak to our customer support team, they can reach out to (331) 256-2885 or [email protected].

If, despite our efforts, your letter does not work as intended, we offer a 100% refund on your purchase.

After consulting with a licensed medical provider and obtaining your ESA letter, you can designate any breed or species of animal as your emotional support animal. It can be an existing pet or a new one you adopt or rescue. You are not required to acquire your animal from a specific breeder or place.

Please note that an ESA letter only covers one animal, so you cannot use it to cover multiple pets.