How to obtain a Psychiatric Service Dog Letter?

Jun 13, 2021 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

A ‘Psychiatric Service Dog Letter’, which is also known as a ‘PSD letter’ is a signed letter provided by a licensed healthcare professional that helps a person in determining whether they qualify for the disability reasons of obtaining a psychiatric service dog. People who own psychiatric service dogs have some special legit rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Fair Housing Act (FHA), and the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), which provide them access to places where regular pets won’t be allowed. For instance, psychiatric service dogs are allowed on flights without the necessity of any charges.

If you feel that you are ready to acquire a PSD letter from a licensed healthcare professional, then start here.

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If you are enthusiastic about obtaining a psychiatric service dog (PSD) letter, then you should get familiar with some important aspects, which we will cover in this article. Generally, there are many aspects that should be taken into careful consideration before acquiring a psychiatric service dog. You should know that they are not intended for everybody and require some specialized training to carry out their activities in a proper manner. In most cases, an emotional support animal might suffice for helping a person in dealing with several kinds of mental illnesses. In this article, we will discuss some of the general topics such as what a psychiatric service dog is, how a person would qualify for a PSD, and what documentation (if any) is required to prove that a dog is a legit PSD.

 

1. What exactly is a Psychiatric Service Dog (PSD)?
2. What are the places in which Psychiatric Service Dogs are allowed?
3. Who is eligible for having a Psychiatric Service Dog?
4. What is a Psychiatric Service Dog letter (PSD letter)?
5. How can I be able to obtain a Psychiatric Service Dog letter (PSD letter)?
6. How can I certify/register a Psychiatric Service Dog?
7. Can I turn my Emotional Support Animal into a Psychiatric Service Dog?
8. Bottom line

 

1. What exactly is a Psychiatric Service Dog (PSD)?

A Psychiatric Service Dog (PSD) is a kind of service animal that is suffering from invisible (mental) disabilities. In order to get a dog qualified as a PSD, it should receive training so that it can perform tasks related to mental, emotional, or learning disabilities. Unlike emotional support animals (ESAs), a PSD should only be a dog and no other type of animal. Anyhow, there are no specific limits regarding the breed or size of the dog.

Psychiatric service dogs perform various types of tasks

  • If the handler is having a panic attack or an anxiety attack, then a PSD can make them calm by using pressure or tactile stimulation.
  • PSDs ground or reorient a person who is having a psychotic episode.
  • PSDs remind their handlers to take their medication, whenever necessary.
  • PSDs prevent their handlers from oversleeping
  • PSDs disturb and stop the obsessive-compulsive behavior or self-destructive behavior of their handlers.

These are just a few examples among the vast number of tasks in which PSDs are trained.

A psychiatric service dog should be trained in such a way that they behave well and perform the necessary tasks in public. Regarding the behavior, a PSD should not get distracted by food, people, objects, or other animals. They should not feel any difficulty while traveling in places like airports, stores, and other public places. A PSD should always obey its owner and be under their control all the time. It should be able to concentrate on the necessary tasks even if the environment is busy or new for it.

PSDs can receive the relevant training from their handlers or any third parties. There is no specific need for a professional trainer or completion of a training program/school. Like we mentioned, if the owner is willing and capable, they can train their PSDs by themselves. So far, most PSD owners have trained their PSDs without having to rely on any other third party. Nevertheless, if you own a PSD, then you must be honest about your training capability and dedication to get the task done.

 

2. What are the places in which Psychiatric Service Dogs are allowed?

Normally, psychiatric service dogs are allowed in places where people are allowed, even when there is a prohibition on general kinds of pets. PSDs can accompany their owners in venues such as shops, restaurants, beaches, parks, schools, libraries, and other public places even when pets are not allowed.

Even if there is a ban on pets in the place where a PSD owner lives, he or she can live there along with their PSD without having to pay any type of additional charges.

PSDs are offered the right to board airplanes when the handler submits a DOT’s Service Animal Air Transportation Form prior to their flight journey. Moreover, there are no additional charges imposed on PSD owners for bringing their animal companions along with them.

Nevertheless, these rights regarding where the PSD is allowed are not absolute. This means a venue may restrict the entry to a PSD when there is a direct threat to the health or safety of other individuals or animals in that place. A PSD can also be denied when it does not obey the handler.

 

3. Who is eligible for having a Psychiatric Service Dog?

To be able to qualify for a psychiatric service dog, a person should be suffering from mental disabilities that usually restrict them in one or more important life activities. Some of the general health conditions that qualify a person for having a PSD are as follows.

  • Depression (severe)
  • Anxiety
  • Panic Disorders
  • PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)
  • Phobias
  • Disabilities related to learning
  • Autism

Getting in contact with a licensed mental health professional is the perfect way of determining mental or emotional health. If you are willing to work with an LMHP concerning this, then you might succeed in doing so by filling this questionnaire.

 

4. What is a Psychiatric Service Dog letter (PSD letter)?

As stated by the ADA, having a disability is the requirement for owning a service animal. A psychiatric service dog letter (PSD letter) is a signed letter provided by a licensed healthcare professional like a psychologist, social worker, psychiatrist, doctor, nurse, or counselor. This letter determines the fact whether the licensed healthcare professional is sure that their client is suffering from a mental or emotional disability. The main objective of a PSD letter is to assist an individual in understanding if they suffer from a qualifying condition according to the relevant disability laws for owning a psychiatric service dog.

It should be noted that a PSD letter won’t confirm that the dog has been perfectly trained for performing all the necessary tasks related to assisting the handler’s disability or that the dog is well trained to be in a public place. These are the responsibilities of the handler, and a PSD letter has nothing to do with these aspects. The important thing determined by a PSD letter is the evaluation of the handler’s mental health.

PSD letters are utilized by the individuals who are in the process of becoming PSD owners. For instance, they might not have trained their PSD completely or even adopted one yet, but they have determined that they are suffering from a qualifying disability that allows them to own a PSD. People who already own PSDs acquire PSD letters so that they can obtain peace of mind and the necessary documentation that supports them to have a PSD because of their mental/emotional condition.

 

5. How can I be able to obtain a Psychiatric Service Dog letter (PSD letter)?

If you are willing to obtain a PSD letter, you can contact your healthcare provider who takes care of all the needs related to your mental health. Sad to say, most of the healthcare professionals are not familiar with the topic of PSDs or the respective assistance animal laws.

ESA certificate has a network of licensed healthcare professionals who have a substantial amount of knowledge on this topic and can assess your condition to determine whether you have a qualifying condition according to ADA for owning a psychiatric service dog. These caring professionals work from remote locations, which lets you have the advantage of acquiring a PSD letter from the comfort of your home. whether you are interested in obtaining a PSD and training it, or if you already own a PSD, the state-licensed healthcare professionals that work along with us can assist you in obtaining a current PSD letter.

 

6. How can I certify/register a Psychiatric Service Dog?

There is no specific requirement for certifying or registering a psychiatric service dog. Moreover, the Department of Justice (DOJ) particularly mentioned that any sort of certifications or registration documents won’t be considered valid proof to determine a dog as a psychiatric service dog. While you are in a public place along with your PSD, the respective staff members can ask only two questions, which are given below.

1. Is the PSD required to assist with any type of disability?
2. What is the specific task or work assigned to the dog to perform?

According to what ADA has to say, there is no need for you to disclose any of the information related to your disability. You must also remember that you have a right to dignity, which means you cannot be forced to have your PSD demonstrate the task assigned to it.

According to what ADA has to say, there is no need for you to disclose any of the information related to your disability. You must also remember that you have a right to dignity, which means you cannot be forced to have your PSD demonstrate the task assigned to it.

Additionally, there is no need for you to carry all the relevant documentation all the time so that your PSD can accompany you, except for air travel. For flights, people owning PSDs should submit a special service animal letter as we mentioned earlier. By doing so, the handlers can certify that their dog is actually a psychiatric service dog, before the flight journey.

Most PSD owners utilize accessories such as badges, vests, ID cards, tags, and harnesses. PSD owners use such types of equipment to make it clear to others that their psychiatric service dog isn’t a normal pet. Such equipment also helps other people know that the dog is there for special purposes, and they should maintain appropriate boundaries. For example, by having such equipment, PSD owners can avoid detailed inquiries or curious/playful children that wish to come near the dog thinking of it as a normal pet. Nevertheless, such service animal paraphernalia won’t qualify the dog as a legit PSD. They are just optional and do not have any legal effects, even though they help others in determining that the animal is not just an ordinary animal and instead it is a service animal.

 

7. Can I turn my Emotional Support Animal into a Psychiatric Service Dog?

ESA owners should be conscious regarding the information that emotional support animals differ a lot when compared to PSDs. The major difference between an ESA and a PSD is that PSDs receive a good amount of training for performing tasks related to a specific disability. On the other hand, ESAs don’t receive such extensive training. Anyhow, it can be possible to train an ESA so that it can be turned into a PSD.

In order to become successful in turning an ESA into a PSD, a few things are necessary. First of all, you should know that PSDs exist for a reason, which is to assist in certain tasks related to the owners’ disabilities for which it has received training. When there is no specific requirement of a trained task, then a person might not require a PSD and an ESA should suffice. No matter what, if you require a PSD and have all the necessary patience and commitment for providing proper training to your dog, then you can train your ESA and turn it into a PSD. Most ESA owners have been successful in this transition process.

 

8. Bottom line

Psychiatric service dogs usually perform tasks that are considered to be lifesaving for their handlers. Not only do they provide support to their owners during times of calamity and emergency, but they also assist their handlers in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and routine. People owning PSDs can enjoy various privileges, however, those privileges go hand in hand with responsibilities. PSD owners must make sure that their animals have received intense training related to the tasks that help with their disabilities. PSDs should also have the capability of behaving appropriately in public places.

If you are willing to contact a licensed healthcare professional to know whether a PSD could be advantageous for you, or if want to qualify for a PSD letter, then ESA Certificate can help you with your requirements.

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