How to Get an Emotional Support Animal in Wisconsin
It's a widely known fact that pets offer us unconditional love, companionship, and loyalty. In fact, mental health professionals recognize the therapeutic effects that pets have on patients with several types of disorders and are prescribing them as Emotional Support Animals.
Further supporting the idea that Emotional Support Animals or ESAs, are a vital asset to persons suffering from debilitating mental disorders, the federal government passed legislation that landlords must accommodate ESAs in their rental communities.
The state of Wisconsin recognizes and enforces the Fair Housing Act that makes accommodations for ESAs. This guide will describe the steps to take to certify your pet as an ESA in Wisconsin. As you will see, DoNotPay features a quick and easy three-step process for all of your ESA-related concerns and can send and receive information on your behalf.
What’s the Difference Between an ESA and a Service Animal?
Emotional support and service pet references are often mistakenly used interchangeably. Both types have separate and distinct responsibilities and carry different legal ramifications.
- A service dog is one that has been trained to work with people with physical disabilities to perform various tasks such as opening doors, crossing streets, and sensing seizures before they happen. Service animals are legally allowed under the Americans with Disabilities Act to accompany their owners in businesses such as restaurants, stores, and theme parks.
- An ESA is strictly a comfort animal, with the sole purpose of providing companionship for its owners. They are legally permitted to live with their owners under the U.S. Housing Act, even if there is a no pet policy in place.
- It's important to note that if a landlord can't make reasonable accommodations for the ESA, they can refuse them.
|Definition||A pet whose presence is determined to be needed for a patient’s mental health. The pet is prescribed by a licensed mental health professional to a person with a disabling mental illness.||According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), service animals are dogs that are trained to perform tasks or do work for people with disabilities.|
|Does the assistance animal have access to public areas?||No||Yes|
|Can the assistance animal be banned or restricted when the owner is obtaining housing?||No||No|
|Will the owner of the assistance animal be charged a pet deposit for living with one?||No||No|
|Is the assistance animal allowed on flights free of charge?||No||Yes|
What Conditions Qualify for an Emotional Support Animal in Wisconsin?
The following mental health disorders generally qualify for an ESA in Wisconsin:
- Anxiety, socially induced or high-stress
- Bipolar disorder
- Severe grief reaction
What Is an ESA Letter and Who Can Write One?
In order to prove your pet is an ESA, an official letter from a mental health professional is necessary. While there are many websites selling "official" certificates, letters, and other documents stating your pet is an ESA, these are not legally binding. ESA letters are valid for one year and must be renewed annually.
The following medical professionals are qualified to write an official ESA letter:
- Wisconsin state-licensed psychiatrists and primary care physicians.
- Mental health professionals, including
- Licensed Mental Health Counselors (LMHC)
- Licensed Social Workers (LCSW)
An official ESA letter must contain the following elements:
- The date of issue of the letter.
- The medical professional's license information, including number and expiration date.
- The mental health professional's contact information.
- A statement that you have a mental condition that qualifies you for an ESA to function fully and feel comfortable.
- The mental health professional's signature.
How Do I Write an ESA Letter to a Landlord?
Dear [Landlord's Name],
In accordance with the Fair Housing Act, I am writing to request reasonable accommodation for my support animal, which will reside with me within my rental at [Rental Address].
I have a disability and, as such, require full-time assistance from this animal. I have attached a letter from my healthcare provider confirming my need for this form of assistance.
The animal in question is [include a brief description of your ESA].
If you wish to discuss this matter in more detail, you can reach me by phone at XXX-XXX-XXXX or email at [your email address].
Are Landlords in Wisconsin Required to Accept ESAs?
Under the Fair Housing Act and State of Wisconsin legislation, property owners and landlords are mandated to make reasonable accommodations for tenants who must live with their emotional support animal. Furthermore, ESA owners are exempt from pet fees or deposits.
However, landlords can be exempt from the laws in these cases:
- The ESA is too large for the living space. For example, you can't house a cow or horse in an apartment since they require a much larger living area.
- The animal causes damage or is a threat to other residents. If your ESA pit bull has a history of escaping and biting your neighbors, the landlord can tell you to remove it from your home.
- The building has four units or fewer, where one unit is owner-occupied.
Are Airlines Required to Accept ESAs?
At one time, the Air Carrier Access Act mandated that all commercial airlines accept letters from mental health professionals allowing ESAs to travel in the cabin with their owners. However, this law has since been updated, and the airlines now treat ESAs like regular pets. This means they can now charge you for the animal to ride in the cargo hold. If the animal is small enough, it can still ride in the cabin as long as it is housed in a pet carrier that fits under the seat.
What Are Good Emotional Support Animals
There are many animals that make excellent emotional support animals that can be easily accommodated by landlords under the Fair Housing Laws.
- Dogs and cats
- Guinea pigs
- Pet mice
- Small birds
- Tropical fish
- Small reptiles
How to Get a Letter for Your Emotional Support Animal in Wisconsin by Yourself
There are several steps involved in obtaining an official letter documenting your need for an ESA. However, this is often a tedious and long process to undertake.
- If you do not already have one, seek a licensed mental health professional qualified to write the letter. The provider may also be obtained through a telehealth appointment, as the Fair Housing Law covers letters written by them.
- Explain to the mental health professional how you feel an ESA would help you overcome many difficulties related to your condition.
- Your mental health professional may ask further questions and request other screenings to verify the need for an ESA.
- If you are approved, the mental health professional will draft a letter and send it to you.
How DoNotPay Can Help
DoNotPay's innovative Service and Emotional Support Animals product can assist you with all of your ESA-related issues, such as contacting your landlord and finding the most affordable ESA letter service. Simply follow the three easy steps below.
- 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.
Depending on your issue, DoNotPay will generate the necessary letters to your landlord or mental health professional about your ESA needs. This process is notably faster and easier than having to do it yourself.
More DoNotPay Products for Your Pets
DoNotPay can help you with other situations involving your pets. Here are just a few:
- Lost and Found Pets
- Pet Custody Agreement
- Pet Licenses
- Report Animal Abuse
What Else Can DoNotPay Do?
Assisting you with ESA matters is just one of the many things DoNotPay can do. Here is a sample of other ways DoNotPay can help:
- Appeal parking tickets
- Airline compensation hacks
- Cancel any service or subscription
- Obtain birth certificate copies
- Help with bills
- Find unclaimed money
- Animal control issues
- Hotel upgrades
DoNotPay's innovative processes cut through bureaucratic red tape to bring you solutions quickly. With DoNotPay, you no longer have to conduct time-consuming web searches, fill out lengthy applications, or stay on long phone holds to get the answers you need. With hundreds of thousands of cases solved, DoNotPay continues to level the playing field for everyone.