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Best Emotional Support Animal Services 2022: Top 3 ESA Certification

Kate Barrington

Updated on - Written by
Medically reviewed by Ramakrishnan, G., Ph.D

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Certapet legitimate emotional support animal registration

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ESA Doctor

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Emotional Pet Support

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  • Talk to a licensed mental health doctor
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Millions of people suffer from mental illnesses each year, so if you struggle with depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), you are not alone. In 2019, over 20% of U.S. adults[1] (roughly 51.5 million people) experienced mental illness – that is almost 1 in 5 adults. 

While mental illness is incredibly common, it is poorly understood and there is still a great deal of stigma against it. Sometimes referred to as an “invisible illness,” people with mental health issues often struggle to access the care they need – many fail to realize what kind of support is even available. 

If you suffer from mental health issues that affect your daily life, you might benefit from an emotional support animal (ESA). Here is what you need to know about emotional support animals, who qualifies for them, and how to get one.

Best Online ESA Letter Registration (December.2022)

  • Certapet – Editor’s Choice
  • ESA Doctor – Runner Up
  • Emotional Pet Support – Same-Day ESA Letter

How Do You Get An ESA? 

In order to qualify for an emotional support animal, all you need is a letter from a licensed mental health professional stating your need. Often referred to as an ESA documentation letter, this letter is all you need to obtain an emotional support animal and to exercise your rights. 

While emotional support animals do not have the same federally protected rights as service dogs regarding access to public areas otherwise off-limits to pets, there are a few protections. For example, under the Fair Housing Act, landlords are not legally allowed to charge pet fees for ESAs and the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) prohibits airlines[2] from barring access to ESAs, though the airline can still charge a pet fee (they cannot charge for a service dog). 

There are no specific requirements regarding what conditions qualify for an ESA – you simply need a mental health expert to diagnose you with a mental health condition and write a letter stating your need for an ESA. If you do not have a licensed mental health professional already, you may be able to find one online who can help you obtain an emotional support animal letter. Just be mindful of fake service animal certification sites. 

Is ESA Letter Legitimate?

Because having an ESA letter enables you to get around some of the rules affecting pets, some people take advantage of the situation by obtaining an illegitimate emotional support letter. There are services where you can buy an ESA letter online along with registries where you can purchase ID tags, vests, and other accessories for your emotional support animal. 

Before you fall victim to one of these services, know that an ESA owner is not required to register their pet. In fact, there is no legitimate ESA registration – neither is there a service dog registry. A valid ESA letter is all you need to exercise your rights and you can get it from a licensed medical professional without paying an extra fee. 

The Line Up At A Glance

Certapet

Editor’s Choice

Certapet

  • Over 7,500 5-star reviews online
  • Free screening test, takes just 5 minutes 
  • Quickly get your ESA letter online

Click Here To Get ESA Letter

Apply 10% Off Coupon Code: HEALTHCANAL

ESA Doctor

Runner Up

ESA Doctor

  • Talk to a licensed mental health professional
  • Obtain an ESA letter quickly
  • Starts with a quick 15-minute questionnaire

Emotional Pet Support

Same-Day ESA Letter

Emotional Pet Support

  • Same-day ESA letter approval online
  • Talk to a licensed mental health doctor
  • Fill out a brief questionnaire to get started

What Is An Emotional Support Animal?

You are undoubtedly familiar with service animals – guide dogs, hearing dogs, seizure response dogs, and the like. Under Title II and Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), service dogs are defined as[3]:

“any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.”

In order to qualify for a service dog, you must have a diagnosed disability and a letter from a licensed physician stating your need. Psychiatric service dogs require a diagnosis and letter from a licensed mental health professional. 

If you struggle with mental issues but your condition is not severe enough to be labeled a disability, you may not qualify for a psychiatric service animal but there is another option – an emotional support animal. Emotional support animals provide companionship and support but, unlike service animals, they are not specially trained in tasks related to their owner’s mental or emotional disability.  

Under the ADA[4], emotional support animals :

“provide companionship, relieve loneliness, and sometimes help with depression, anxiety, and certain phobias.”

They are recognized by the ADA for their benefits but not protected by the same federal laws. If you qualify for an emotional support animal, you’ll need to obtain an emotional support animal letter from a mental health professional to exercise your rights. 

Having an emotional support animal letter exempts you from two specific rules that would normally affect pet owners. Under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), landlords are not allowed to require tenants to pay pet fees for an emotional support animal as long as they have an ESA housing letter. They cannot refuse to accommodate an ESA or require that the animal receive special training. 

The second law that protects emotional support animals is the Air Carrier Access Act. This act allows emotional support animals to ride in the cabin of the plane, though they may still be able to charge a pet fee for ESAs – they cannot charge fees for service animals. 

Accommodation Letter for Your Emotional Support Animal

Individuals with disabilities can obtain a Letter of Accommodation (LOA) from the Office of Disability Services. To obtain this letter, the individual must meet the following criteria:

  1. Submit appropriate documentation verifying their disability
  2. Meet with a representative from the Office of Disability Services
  3. Be approved for protections under the ADA

Having an LOA entitles you to a reasonable accommodation under the ADA which, in some cases, may include an assistance animal. ESA owners can obtain a prescription letter from their medical professional which performs a similar function to the Letter of Accommodation. ESA letters need to only state that the individual has been diagnosed with a mental disorder and that they qualify for an emotional support animal. 

Emotional Support Animal Vs Service Animal

Whether you struggle with a physical, mental, or emotional difficulty, having a furry friend to support you can be a great help. Sometimes a little love and companionship can make all the difference in your life and in your ability to function. The primary difference between service dogs and emotional support animals is in their training. 

A service animal goes through hundreds of hours of training to work with a specific individual. The ADA also sets forth certain requirements[5] for the animal’s behavior since they are allowed in public places where pets typically are not. The animal must be under the control of its handler, be harnessed or leashed, and must be well-behaved. Businesses cannot ask that the dog be removed unless it is out of control or not housebroken. 

An emotional support animal is simply a pet that provides emotional and mental support. It is important that your pet understands basic commands, but there are no specific training requirements. ESAs do not have the same rights as assistance dogs, but they have more rights than therapy dogs which are only used in institutions. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an Emotional Support Animal?

An emotional support animal is a companion dog or other animal that offers comfort and provides emotional support for individuals with mental health issues. You can get an ESA letter from your doctor.

What rights do ESA pet owners have?

Emotional support dogs are protected by two federal laws – the Fair Housing Act and the Air Carrier Access Act. The first prevents landlords from charging pet fees or barring access for ESAs and the second allows ESA owners to bring appropriate emotional support animals in the cabin of the plane (though they will still be charged pet fees).

How are ESAs different from psychiatric service animals?

An emotional support dog or other support animal supports an individual’s mental well-being by providing companionship and comfort to individuals with mental disorders. A psychiatric service dog is specifically trained to assist individuals with mental or emotional disabilities.

How do you get a legitimate ESA letter?

 Licensed mental health professionals can provide ESA letters for individuals who have been diagnosed with a mental condition under the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). You simply need your mental health professional to document your diagnosis and write the letter.

Do I need to register my emotional support animal?

No. Emotional support dog registration is not required – you simply need an ESA letter from your doctor. In fact, companies claiming to offer emotional support dog registry are not legitimate.


+ 5 sources

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  1. Nami.org. (2021). Mental Health By the Numbers | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness. [online] Available at: https://www.nami.org/mhstats.
  2. ‌Transportation.gov. (2019). Passengers with Disabilities | US Department of Transportation. [online] Available at: https://www.transportation.gov/airconsumer/passengers-disabilities.
  3. ‌Adata.org. (2021). Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals | ADA National Network. [online] Available at: https://adata.org/guide/service-animals-and-emotional-support-animals.
  4. Adata.org. (2021). Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals | ADA National Network. [online] Available at: https://adata.org/guide/service-animals-and-emotional-support-animals.
  5. Ada.gov. (2011). ADA 2010 Revised Requirements: Service Animals. [online] Available at: https://www.ada.gov/service_animals_2010.htm.
Kate Barrington

Medically reviewed by:

Kate Barrington holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and is the published author of several self-help books and nutrition guides. Also an avid dog lover and adoring owner of three cats, Kate’s love for animals has led her to a successful career as a freelance writer specializing in pet care and nutrition. Kate holds a certificate in fitness nutrition and enjoys writing about health and wellness trends — she also enjoys crafting original recipes. In addition to her work as a ghostwriter and author, Kate is also a blogger for a number of organic and natural food companies as well as a columnist for several pet magazines.

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