Can You Bring an Emotional Support Animal to School?
School can be a stressful environment for someone dealing with a psychological disorder. Have you ever thought of bringing an emotional support animal to school with you?
Emotional support animals (ESAs) are pets prescribed by mental health professionals (and are not service dogs). In 2019, there were nearly 200,000 emotional support animals in the US. And as of January 10, 2022, there are 222,314 ESAs and service animals combined.
Despite those glaring figures, emotional support animals, therapy animals, and companion animals seldom accompany students in public schools. Indeed, the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) does not consider it legal to have an ESA at school other than an animal that meets the definition of 'service animal.'
If you're suffering from a mental health condition and wondering if you can bring an emotional support animal to school, DoNotPay can help with an ESA letter to send to your school.
What Is an Emotional Support Animal?
An emotional support animal is an animal that provides relief to individuals with 'psychiatric disability through companionship,' thus helping ease anxiety, bipolar disorder, severe depression, and specific phobias. To be permitted an emotional support animal, you must meet with a licensed mental health professional who determines that you have a mental health disability and the presence of your emotional support animal eases your condition. The licensed mental health professional can then give you an official document (letter) that grants your ESA access to various places, regardless of animal policies.
The most ordinary emotional support animals are dogs. But, any animal can be a recognized ESA, provided they are well-behaved and trained enough to be non-disruptive in public places.
What Is the Difference Between a Service Animal and an Emotional Support Animal?
According to ADA, the main difference between service animals and ESAs are the following:
|Service Animals||Emotional Support Animals|
|Service animals perform specific tasks to help their handler, like retrieving medication.||Emotional support animals provide comfort and companionship.|
|Service animals are dogs or miniature horses.||Emotional support animals can be any animal.|
|Service dogs are granted public access.||Emotional support animals are only guaranteed to most rental housing.|
What Is an Emotional Support Animal Letter?
An ESA letter refers to an official document that proves a person's need for an ESA to cope with their mental condition. A certified mental health professional must write and sign your letter in your state.
What Qualifies a Letter as a Valid ESA letter?
- It should be on the mental health professional's official letterhead.
- It should include the physician's license number, license expiration date, contact information, and letter issue date.
ESA letters are valid for one year. They need to be renewed on an annual basis.
Who Can Write an ESA Letter?
A certified mental health professional can write an ESA letter stating that the emotional support animal is part of your therapy plan. The list of authorized medical professionals include:
- Your Primary Care Physician
- A Licensed Mental Health Professional
- A Licensed Therapist
- A Licensed General Physician
What Is the Perspective of Schools Regarding Emotional Support Animals?
Can you bring an emotional support animal to school? No one answer fits all, as rules vary from school to school. Unlike service animals, which are allowed to go almost anywhere, emotional support animals do not have the same rights, except for housing.
Schools are only mandated by law to allow you to keep an emotional support animal in your dorms(for university students), failure of which you can file a formal complaint if then they deny you that right. However, it's up to the school management to have your emotional support animal on the campus premises. You can plead your case by presenting them with an ESA letter.
How to Get an ESA Letter to Bring an Emotional Support Animal to School on Your Own
To get your emotional support animal to accompany you to school, it's advisable you first acquire an ESA letter and send the request to your school.
- You can physically go to a licensed physician to diagnose you, then write you an ESA letter. You could also easily book an online appointment with a certified medical professional who will diagnose you, then send your letter via email or mail services.
- After receiving your ESA letter, you can take it to school to formally make your request.
- Upon approval, you can take a pet/animal of your choice as your emotional support animal. Alternatively, you can ask your medical provider to recommend you one.
You need to be careful who you get your ESA letter from, as scams are rising. Online appointments can frustrate you since you could pay for consultation and be denied an ESA letter.
Let DoNotPay Help You Get an ESA Letter
Through our new Service and Emotional Support Animals product, DoNotPay can help you with all of your ESA-related concerns, including contacting your school about your ESA and finding the most affordable online ESA letter service in just three steps:
- Search "service animal" on DoNotPay.
- Select the type of issue you need help with, including contacting your landlord about your ESA/service animal, asking your airline about ESA options, or requesting ESA/service accommodations at other venues.
- Answer a series of questions about your current situation and the details of your ESA/service animal, so we can generate the best results for you.
And that's it! Depending on your issue, DoNotPay will generate a letter to your school/landlord and mail it on your behalf, contact the airline agency and get back to you with an answer, or send a letter to your mental health professional requesting an ESA letter.
Why Choose DoNotPay to Help You Bring Your Emotional Support Animal to School
At DoNotPay, we understand that animals can offer unconditional love and support that can help to alleviate the symptoms of psychological disorders. We want to help give you a chance to have your emotional support animal in school with you. DoNotPay is:
- Fast — With the help of DoNotPay, you can get an appointment with a licensed medical professional at the earliest convenience and pocket-friendly rates.
- Easy — You don't have to sit through hours waiting for an ESA letter. You can relax after just three easy steps, and we will do the rest.
- Successful—DoNotPay takes your needs seriously and guarantees excellent service.
DoNotPay Works Across All Entities
It's not just helping you bring an emotional support animal to school. DoNotPay can help you get request accommodations for your emotional support animal in various airlines, including:
What Else Can DoNotPay Do?
DoNotPay is a multidisciplinary entity that can provide you with necessary assistance in various aspects, including:
- Animal control services
- Airline flight compensation hacks
- In need of assistance canceling a subscription?
- Filing a formal complaint against any company
- Getting a license for your pet
DoNotPay can help you in all aspects of your life!