Emotional Support Dogs
An emotional support dog is a dog that has been prescribed by a licensed mental health practitioner to supply comfort and emotional support to help a person deal with certain challenging health issues in everyday life such as anxiety, depression or PTSD.
Emotional support dogs have certain legal rights that typical pets do not.
- Protected under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), an emotional support dog has access to most housing, even those with no pet policies.
- Protected under the Airline Carrier Access Act (ACAA), an emotional support dog can fly with you in the cabin of commercial airplanes.
- The emotional support dog’s owner/handler cannot, under both the FHA and ACAA, be charged additional fees for airline access or housing.
How to Get an Emotional Support Dog
If a mental health professional such as a psychiatrist, psychologist or therapist determines that, for your mental health, you need the presence of an animal, they can prescribe you one with an emotional support animal (ESA) letter.
Although an ESA letter could be for any kind of animal, because of their loyalty, companionship and love, dogs are chosen far more than any other animal.
There are a number of requirements for an ESA letter to be valid. It must be on the licensed mental health professional’s letterhead and include:
- the license number, contact information, and signature of the licensed mental health professional
- Indication that you are under their care and that you have a recognized mental or emotional health condition
- The prescription of an emotional support animal
Can a Dog be an Emotional Support Animal?
Yes. Any animal can be an emotional support animal and dogs are the most common type.
Are there Size Restrictions?
Under the FHA and ACAA, your dog cannot be discriminated against by size or breed. From a Pitbull to a Poodle and a mixed breed to a Malamute, any dog can be an ESA.
Are there Training or Registration Requirements?
Emotional support animals do not need specific training. That being said, your dog should be well-behaved and you should be able to handle it properly in public.
There are also no requirements to register your ESA dog and there is no official registry.
Regarding emotional support, your dog needs to do what it does best, offer the love, empathy, and companionship that dogs are known for.
Will I Need an ESA Vest for My Dog?
It is not required, but many people like their emotional support dogs to have some sort of noticeable identification. They feel that, among other things, it discourages questions about why your dog is in a place they don’t expect it to be, such as in the cabin of a commercial airliner.
If you decide you want a vest or other ID, make sure that it identifies your dog as an emotional support dog and not a service dog. Service dogs require specific training and are covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
How to Get an Emotional Support Dog Letter
Consider letting the DOGtor help you obtain your ESA letter. With our years of experience and extensive network of health professionals, we have helped thousands of people get their ESA letters. You will find dealing with the DOGtor to be the simple, fast and affordable way to enable the enjoyment of the benefits of having an emotional support dog.