Emotional Support Animal Letters

An emotional support animal letter is documentation from a licensed medical professional that allows you to live with an emotional support animal (ESA), even in pet restricted housing. It also allows you to fly with your ESA on commercial airlines without paying additional fees.

For many of us, having a pet in our lives is key to lowering emotional and psychological stress. Animal companions have been proven as a natural remedy to many types of anxiety and depression, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other conditions. Unfortunately, housing and travel restrictions sometimes separate us from our loving animal friends when we might need them most.

This is why laws have been passed to allow people who need an emotional support animal to live and travel with them.

What an ESA Letter Does

A properly executed and presented emotional support animal letter allows your emotional support animal to:

  • Accompany you in the cabin on a commercial airline flight as allowed by the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA).
  • Live with you in pet limitation or no pet policy housing as allowed by the Fair Housing Act (FHA).
  • Be exempt from an airline or your landlord charging additional pet fees.

With an ESA letter, you will no longer have to compromise where you live or how you travel again.

What Exactly is an Emotional Support Animal Letter?

Also known as an ESA prescription letter, an ESA letter is an official letter from a licensed mental health professional. It states that, as part of the treatment for a recognized emotional or mental disability, you require the presence of an animal for comfort and the alleviation of symptoms.

ESA Letter

What Needs to be in an Emotional Support Animal Doctor Letter?

To be accepted by landlords and airlines under the FHA and ACAA, an ESA letter must be properly formatted and include:

  • The name address and contact information of a licensed medical professional such as a doctor, psychiatrist, psychologist, rehabilitation counselor or therapist
  • An indication that you are under this professional’s care
  • An indication that you have a mental disorder that is included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, version 4 or 5 (DSM IV or V)
  • An indication that your emotional/mental issues preclude at least one major life activity
  • A statement by the licensed professional that you should have an emotional support animal as a necessary part of  your treatment
  • The licensed professional’s signature

This letter should be on the letterhead of the licensed medical professional who made the diagnosis that enabled you to qualify for an emotional support animal.

The Differences Between an Emotional Support Animal Letter to Landlords and to Airlines

There are a few differences between an ESA letter for housing and an ESA letter for flying, such as:

  • The letter for housing has no expiration date and is valid for the full term of the leasing/ownership agreement, while the letter for the airlines is valid for 1 year. If your letter is more than a year old, your landlord/property owner might request an updated letter, especially if you are moving into new housing.
  • Typically the letter for housing will provide a diagnosis regarding your requirement of an ESA for your home, while a typical letter for airline travel will provide a diagnosis regarding your requirement of an ESA for flight.
  • The letter for housing usually references the FHA, while the letter to the airlines usually references the ACAA.

How Do I Get an ESA Letter?

It starts with a visit with your licensed mental health provider. If their diagnosis medically qualifies you for an emotional support animal and they are familiar with the requirements of writing an ESA letter for approval by the FHA and ACAA, they can provide you an ESA for housing or flying. Be aware that many doctors without experience in prescribing emotional support animals can be reluctant about providing an ESA letter.

If you do not have a qualified person willing or able to execute a proper ESA letter, you might find that trying to navigate the process can be a bit daunting. Especially the worry that there might be a problem that disqualifies the validity of your ESA letter. The DOGtor exists to help people easily deal with all specific requirements needed to get an ESA letter that will be accepted.

A combination of our years of experience and extensive mental health professional referral network make the DOGtor a refreshingly simple and surprisingly affordable solution for obtaining your ESA letter.

Let us help. Take our no-risk mental health assessment today.

The Online Dogtor