4 Tips for Getting an Emotional Support Animal

Jan 11, 2021 | Dogs, Emotional Support Animals, Mental Health

You may be considering getting an emotional support animal for yourself or for someone you think might need one. The truth is that you can’t just take it from a pet store or an animal shelter. There are rules that you must follow for your safety and convenience.

You should check the pet policy of your apartment or workplace to make sure they follow the pet policy and when ESA is allowed. To qualify for an ESA, you must also have a qualifying medical condition or disability.


Certified mental disability

To be eligible to own an emotional support animal, a licensed mental health provider must diagnose you with a mental or emotional disability. You and your mental health provider should work together to determine whether an emotional support animal will benefit your mental health before purchasing one. Make sure you communicate well with your healthcare provider so that everything goes smoothly.


ESA letter

It is important to know that there is no official license or certificate to own an emotional support animal other than the ESA letter. This is the type of document that allows a person to be eligible to accompany an animal, issued by a licensed mental health professional. To obtain official documents, the doctor may refer the person to a psychologist.

However, beware of scammers who offer to pay for an emotional support animal license. There are many bogus sites that promise to provide an ESA license, but they are run by scammers who promise to give you a license in exchange for a fee, but in reality they are just stealing your money. A letter from a healthcare professional is the only valid document for your ESA.

The document must contain information about the psychiatric center, confirming that you are a patient, your diagnosis, the type of emotional support animal you have, contact information, license number, and the expiration date of the letter. Don’t forget to update your documentation when it’s due.


Easy Access

Although service animals are allowed to accompany their owners almost anywhere, this is not the case for people with emotional support animals. However, from a legal standpoint, an ElSA letter provided by your psychiatrist can help you get around some of the restrictions that regular pet owners are subject to.

Request an ESA Exception Letter to be able to visit places where there are restrictions prohibiting normal pets. The letter should include your psychiatric diagnosis and how the animal can help reduce the signs and effects of your disability – this is concrete evidence that you really need the animal to be with you.


Choosing an Emotional Support Animal

It is not your health care provider’s responsibility to select a specific emotional support animal, but they can help you through the decision-making process by consulting with you about your lifestyle and needs and which animal is best for them.

By law, you are allowed to choose an ordinary pet as an emotional support animal. You can simply take the animal from the pet store, but for health and safety reasons, it is recommended that such animals be examined. Unlike service animals, emotional support animals do not undergo any form of training or certification; therefore, they are more unpredictable unless you take the time to carefully prepare them yourself.

The services of a qualified expert or animal behaviorist are necessary to decide whether the animal has the appropriate qualities and temperament necessary to fulfill this role in order to protect the welfare of both the animal and its owner.

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