Iowa Laws on Emotional Support Animals

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What’s an ESA Letter and Why You Need One In Iowa

For individuals with certain mental disorders, an may be prescribed. The comfort helps the patient cope with challenges that otherwise may compromise their quality of life.

Getting a prescription for an emotional support animal can be a relief. The real problem is getting the rest of the world to acknowledge the animal. Landlords and airlines are among many groups who dispute your right to take your animal with you.

When the going gets tough, look for DoNotPay.

What Is an Emotional Support Animal?

Emotional support animals are companions for individuals suffering from a mental disability. Dogs tend to be the most common pet in the category, but almost any type of animal fits the bill.

An example would be a person suffering from aerophobia or fear of flying. Having that support animal may make it easier to manage stressful flights. Individuals afraid of enclosed spaces (claustrophobia) might need a dog's support to keep an apartment.

How Emotional Support Animals Help People:

Improves Your ScheduleSchedules and routines may be very important, yet, schedules may seem tedious. A pet requires care and a certain routine. You must feed them; you have to walk them, bathe them, play with them, etc. Setting your schedule to be based on their needs can also impact your other day-to-day tasks.
Improve Memory and FocusPets are very good at keeping person-centered. If you forget to feed them, they will remind you. If you feel lost in thought, they can give you a nudge to remind you that they are there.
Improve SleepIf you are someone who suffers from hyperactivity, you may feel unable to rest well at night. After running, walking, playing, and focusing on your pet throughout the day, you may be able to rest more at night.
Relieves StressPets provide unconditional love to their owners. They are unable to yell or do things that may stress you. This can give you a sense of confidence and reduce your risk of depression or anxiety.

What’s an ESA Letter?

Many people try to use pets as emotional support animals when they aren't. Travelers that don't want to put their cat in cargo may claim an emotional support angle. Renters moving into a no-pets unit use to circumvent housing rules.

The behavior hurts patients who legitimately need their pets.

Take note that you can get certificates or register your animal as emotionally supportive, but that doesn't get you past the finish line. The only way to prove your pet's status is with an ESA letter.

The ESA contains specific information, including

  • The license number of the physician or mental health professional
  • The professional's license expiration date
  • Issue date that the letter
  • Your physician's contact information
  • The professional's signature
  • Letter on the clinician's letterhead

An ESA letter doesn't necessarily work across the board. Airlines may only accept letters with approved formatting and information. Landlords cannot deny anyone housing for a support animal. Letters must adhere to the law.

Who Can Write an ESA Letter in Iowa?

Some entities, such as an airline, may want an ESA from a licensed psychologist, psychiatrist, or other specific professionals. Otherwise, pretty much any mental health professional can prepare and sign an ESA as long as the animal is part of therapy treatment.

1. Physicians & ESAs

A primary or general clinician involved in your mental health can give you an ESA letter. Again, you may find yourself needing more than one letter. (In general, the ESA lasts only one year.)

2. Therapists & ESAs

Make sure the professional issuing the prescription or letter has a license. Otherwise, your ESA letter is worthless.

3. Psychologists, Psychiatrists & ESAs

Mental health professionals like psychologists and psychiatrists are strong resources for knowing how to get a therapy dog in Iowa or ESA letters.

Emotional Support Animals in Iowa

, but they're limited. A landlord cannot deny you residence, but you are not automatically allowed to take the animal into a mall or on an airplane. Employers are not required to accept your animal in their workplaces.

How to Ask For an Emotional Support Animal

Many clinicians may suggest one. But if you broach the subject, take note of the following.

  • The clinician must be fully licensed to prescribe the animal.
  • They ascertain the need and can turn the request down.
  • There will be an extensive analysis of your psychological background.

Example ESA Letter

This is a sample of an ESA. It touches on many talking points.

Good day.

(FULL NAME) is my patient and has been in my care since (DATE). I am aware of the restrictions brought by his/her mental condition. He/she definitely falls under the definition of disabled under the Americans with Disabilities Act/the Rehabilitation Act of 1973/the Fair Housing Act.

(FIRST NAME) has limitations related to anxiety/depression/social interaction/phobia. To help relieve the difficulties, I submit this ESA prescription letter to help (FIRST NAME) deal with his/her disability.

Upon request, I will share relevant information and studies and will answer any questions you may have regarding emotional support animals. Please do not hesitate to get in touch.




Are Landlords in Iowa Required to Accept ESAs?

Landlords cannot deny you a place to live because you have an emotional support animal. But having your ESA letter isn't a slam dunk. A potential tenant must still solidify the tenant qualifications for approval.

If you're denied and can prove it was because of your pet, you could take the landlord to court.

How to Get an ESA Letter by Yourself

See your prescribing physician and request an ESA letter. Make sure it's tailored to getting on an airline, approval for an apartment, or other condition. Take note that having an approved emotional support animal means landlords or airlines cannot charge you extra fees.

Next Steps for an ESA Letter if You Can’t Do It Yourself

You may find you can't get a letter through the usual means. Your doctor retired, moved away, etc. Your next steps include:

  • Finding another mental health professional. Be mindful that they may require you to go through the therapeutic process to confirm you need the animal.
  • Going online and speaking with telehealth professionals. This can save a lot of legwork.
  • Using DoNotPay.

Here’s How DoNotPay Can Help

Through our new Service and Emotional Support Animals product; DoNotPay can help you with all of your ESA-related concerns, including contacting your landlord about your ESA, asking airlines about their accommodation options, and finding the most affordable online ESA-letter service.

  1. Search "service animal" on DoNotPay.

  2. 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.

  3. 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 send a letter to your 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 Use DoNotPay to Get an ESA Letter

There are three simple reasons.

  1. You don't have to spend hours trying to solve the issue.
  2. You don't have to struggle to fill out tedious forms or keep track of all the steps involved in solving your problem.
  3. You can rest assured knowing we'll make the best case for you.

More DoNotPay Products for Your Pets

DoNotPay provides a range of pet-related services.

  • How to license a dog as a therapy dog in Iowa
  • Negotiate a pet custody agreement
  • Getting licenses
  • Reporting animal abuse

DoNotPay Works for All Entities With the Click of a Button

We don't simply help individuals with ESA letters. We work with churches that want to reduce property taxes and medical facilities looking for clinical trial approval. DoNotPay works for all companies, entities, groups, and people.

What Else Can DoNotPay Do?

Getting an ESA letter is only one project DoNotPay helps with. You can contact animal control or get your pet a license. Fight airlines, landlords, unwanted roommates, the DMV, and more with our resources.

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