How to Get an Emotional Support Animal
Taking care of an animal is an excellent way to improve your physical and mental health. In 2011, the National Service Animal Registry registered 2,400 service and support animals. In 2019, this number skyrocketed to almost 200,000.
These digits show the increasing demand for emotional support animals (ESAs). Thanks to their many observable benefits, many people are now searching for how to get an emotional support animal in an efficient manner.
The process of getting an emotional support animal can be tedious and discouraging. Fortunately, DoNotPay's new product, "Service and Emotional Support Animals," will find the most affordable online ESA-letter services or request an ESA letter from your mental health professional on your behalf.
It's this ESA letter that makes your pet qualify as an emotional support animal.
What Is an Emotional Support Animal?
An emotional support animal offers therapeutic benefits to people with mental disabilities.
ESAs are neither pets nor service animals. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines service animals as those trained to carry out tasks for the disabled. Emotional support animals, on the other hand, do not undergo any training beyond the regular training a pet requires.
The table below outlines the differences between an emotional support animal vs a service animal:
|Definition||A pet, whose presence is determined to be needed for the mental health of a patient. 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|
Dogs are the most common ESAs, followed by cats. Other animals include miniature horses, pigs, monkeys, parrots, ducks, etc.
What Therapeutic Benefits Do Emotional Support Animals Provide?
ESAs offer many therapeutic benefits to their owners, e.g.
- Reminding them to take their medications.
- Giving owners with major depressive disorders a reason to live.
- Engaging in calming activities to those with PTSD during a panic attack.
- Interrupting those with impulsive or destructive behavior from harming themselves.
Can an Emotional Support Animal Be Any Animal?
ESAs can be any type of animal, even those uncommon in households. However, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) made a couple of changes on evaluating an ESA in its 2020 revised guidance.
HUD now has 2 categories for ESAs: common household pets and unique animals.
The common household pets are dogs, cats, small birds, rabbits, rodents, fish, turtles, and so forth.
A unique animal, on the other hand, is not commonly kept as a household pet.
Who Qualifies for an Emotional Support Animal?
To qualify for an ESA, the owner must:
- Check-in with themselves and weigh if having an emotional support animal is the best idea for their mental health.
- Have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder or emotional disorders, e.g., PTSD, depression, anxiety, learning disabilities, agoraphobia, and so forth.
- Must have a letter from a qualified mental health professional (MHP)
- Must have an updated ESA letter. ESA letters are valid for 12 months. Thereafter you'll need to visit your MHP for a new one.
How Can You Get an Emotional Support Animal on Your Own?
Once you qualify for an ESA, the next step is to get one. These steps will help you do so on your own:
Find Out if You Will Potentially Benefit From Owning an ESA
The first and essential step to getting an ESA is recognizing that you may have a mental condition that would get better with professional help. An emotional support animal is of great benefit to those with mental illnesses.
Reach Out to a Licensed Mental Health Professional for an ESA Letter
Once you realize that you have a mental health condition, the next step is to contact an MHP. They will issue you an ESA letter after diagnosis.
Adopt an ESA
If you already have a pet, it now qualifies as an ESA dog or cat, etc., after acquiring the ESA letter. But if you don't have any pets, you can get one from an animal shelter or rescue organization near you.
Next Steps for Getting an Emotional Support Animal if You Can’t Do It Yourself
It's not every time that you'll manage to get an ESA by yourself. Obtaining an ESA letter can take longer than expected.
You could also face challenges booking an appointment with your MHP, who should give you the signed ESA letter.
Such obstacles can make a mental health patient forfeit getting an emotional support animal altogether. Yet, a support animal's companionship is crucial to those with mental disabilities since it has proven to help reduce anxiety, depression, and certain phobias.
Even if you can't get an ESA yourself, there is still hope. DoNotPay's product Service and Emotional Support Animals can find the most affordable online ESA-letter service or send a letter to your mental health professional requesting an ESA letter on your behalf.
Here's all you need to do:
- Search "service and support animals" on DoNotPay.
- Select the type of issue you need help with. In this case, you need help with acquiring an emotional support animal.
- 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 scan for the most affordable online ESA-letter service or send a letter to your mental health professional requesting an ESA letter.
What Other Pet Related Services Does DoNotPay Offer?
Besides handling all your ESA-related issues, DoNotPay offers other services for your pet. These include:
- Lost and found Pets
- Pet custody agreement
- Pet license
- Report animal abuse
- Animal control
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