How It Works

An ESA is a companion animal that eases a person’s emotional trauma or psychological disability. Recommended by a mental health professional, an emotional support animal can help alleviate stress, anxiety, insomnia and depression by offering companionship, comfort and unconditional love.

How to Get an Emotional Support Animal (ESA)?

If you have, or think you have, an emotional disability, and feel that a companion animal could help you feel better about your anxiety, depression, stress or insomnia, then your first step is booking an appointment with a licensed mental health professional.

This professional will assess your condition to see if getting an ESA would have significant positive effects on the symptoms of your condition. If so, then they will provide you with an official letter of approval. The letter will state that you are their patient and that their evaluation justifies your need for an emotional support animal.

What is an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Letter?

An ESA letter is a letter from a licensed mental health professional stating a person’s need for an emotional support service animal to deal with a mental or emotional disability.

An ESA letter will demonstrate that your emotional support animal is intended to prevent emotional issues so their use demands “reasonable accommodation” by federal statutes like the Fair Housing Act and the Air Carrier Access act.

ESAs for Housing

An emotional support animal housing letter allows a tenant’s emotional support animal to live with them even if the property owner has pet restrictions such as a no pet policy.

Under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), emotional support animals qualify as a reasonable accommodation and a landlord or homeowner’s association must provide reasonable accommodation to people with disabilities so that they have an equal opportunity to enjoy and use a dwelling. A reasonable accommodation may include waiving a no-pet rule or a pet deposit.

ESAs for Travel

An emotional support animal travel letter allows a passenger’s emotional support animal to fly with them in the cabin of an airplane to and within the United States as per the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA).

Along with an ESA letter, airlines can request 48-hour advance notice and retain certain rights to exclude animals, such as animals that are prohibited from entering the destination country or that are too large or heavy to be accommodated in the cabin. Airlines cannot refuse to allow an ESA animal onboard because it makes other passengers or flight crew uncomfortable.

Qualifications for Getting an Emotional Support Animal (ESA)

To get an ESA you must have one prescribed for you by a mental health professional as an essential part of treatment for an emotional or psychological disability. Qualifying conditions that seriously impact your daily life and qualify for emotional support animal requirement can include:

  • Severe anxiety
  • PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder)
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Stress

If a mental health professional verifies that you have one of these conditions, or a similar one, then you should be eligible to get a certified emotional support animal.

Emotional Support Animal ESA Training

An emotional support animal does not need to be trained. An ESA should not be confused with a service animal that is individually trained to provide assistance to a person with a disability. An animal meets the federal definition of a service animal if they do a job the owner is unable to do themselves.

Although it is not required that an emotional support animal be trained, it is advisable, that you do provide your ESA enough training that:

  • It is under control in public.
  • It is not destructive.
  • It does not show signs of aggressive behavior.

Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Registration

Emotional support animals are not required to be registered. There is no one official registry. Your up-to-date ESA letter from a licensed health provider is all that is needed to prove your eligibility for housing and air travel accommodations.

  • Complete Online Exam

    All individuals seeking an Emotional Support Animal prescription must complete an online medical examination consisting of 74 questions. It takes anywhere from 15 – 20 minutes to complete so please make sure that you are ready to fill it out and move forward, since you won’t be able to save your exam and come back to it later.

    You can begin the exam by clicking on the “online medical exam”tab located in the main navigation
    menu or by clicking the “get started now” tab below.

  • Make Payment

    Potential patients should keep in mind that if the evaluating medical doctor does not feel comfortable writing you a prescription for an emotional support animal, then you will receive a same-day refund. Refunds are granted only to those who are not approved by the evaluating physician.

    After completing your online exam you will be required to make a payment and choose a treatment plan that best applies to you. If you need an ESA letter for housing, please choose the housing plan. The entry level housing plan is called the “care plan” and is 159.00. If you need a letter only for travel, then please choose the travel plan for 149.00. If you need documentation for both, you will need to select the Compassion Plan for 199.00, which will cover both travel and housing. Regardless, you must submit payment at that time or your exam will not be processed.

  • The DOGtor Reviews Your Exam

    The Dogtor reviews your exam & you’ll receive a notification within 48 hours if approved or not. Approval is typically the same day on a normal work week. In the event that the Dogtor needs to do a further evaluation he may want to speak to you over Skype. However, it’s very rare.

  • You’ve Been Approved!

    All individuals who have submitted an online exam will hear back from the evaluating physician within 24-48 hours. The doctor will email you from this or her personal email address to the email address that you have on file, so please make sure to check spam folders and wait patiently for the correspondence from the M.D. A doctor may ask you more questions about your exam so please be prepared to provide further details if they want more info in order for them to make an informed decision. Usually these questions are about asking for more clarity or that you have been vague in answering a specific question.

    As stated in Step 3, if the doctor does not approve you, you will receive a same-day refund. However, in the event that you are approved, you will receive your emailed PDF copy of the prescription letter typically on the same day. You will also receive a courtesy hard copy that will be mailed to the address that you have on file when taking the online exam. The hard copy take a few business days to arrive, depending on where you are located in the USA.

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