Sample Letter Requesting Reasonable Accommodation For Emotional Support Animals
The Americans with Disabilities Act and Fair Housing Act ensure that everyone has equal access to employment and housing regardless of physical or mental ability. People with disabilities cannot be discriminated against for needing special accommodation and have avenues for enforcing their rights if they feel they have been denied accommodation. Unfortunately, if you need an emotional support animal, you are not entitled to any protection. A letter from a medical professional may allow your animal to be covered under laws governing assistance animals. If you need a sample letter regarding accommodation for your emotional support animal, DoNotPay can help.
Your Rights as the Owner of an Emotional Support Animal
There are two federal laws in place to protect you and your ESA:
|Fair Housing Act (FHA)||This law makes it illegal for landlords to discriminate against individuals with diagnosed psychiatric disabilities. They are required by law to accommodate emotional support animals and are not permitted to charge for pet fees, but are allowed to ask for proof which may come in the form of an ESA letter.|
|Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA)||The ACAA is a law that protects persons with disabilities who require a service dog or an emotional support animal. This act makes it illegal for diagnosed individuals to be discriminated against for air travel.|
Differences Between Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals
There are three denominations of assistance animals:
- Service animals
- Therapy animals
- Emotional support animals
People frequently conflate the meanings of these categories. Service animals have been trained to assist their handlers with tasks that help them navigate daily life. This includes things like
- Alerting deaf handlers to things that need their attention
- Reminding their handler to take their medication regularly
- Guiding their handler through a seizure
Therapy animals do not have the same requirements. Therapy animals must be calm, open to new people, and well-behaved. As long as they are not aggressive and respond to their handler's directions, they can be certified by a national organization.
There is no equivalent certification or criteria that makes an animal an emotional support animal, but that does not diminish their health benefits. In animal-assisted therapy, it has been shown that animals can
- Lower anxiety
- Diminish physical pain
- Increase mental stimulation
- Promote the release of serotonin and oxytocin
- Increase verbal communication in people with autism
Certification of Your Emotional Support Animal
If you are asking your landlord or employer to waive a policy for you as a reasonable accommodation, you will need proof that your animal is necessary for your quality of life. While service animals and therapy dogs may have an official certification of their training, your emotional support animal needs no such credentials. As the owner, you need a letter from a licensed health professional to validate your claim that the animal is necessary. You can get your letter from several sources, including
- A social worker
- Your psychiatrist
- Your psychologist
- A counselor
- Your primary care doctor
If you do not have a regular doctor, there are some organizations that will provide letters if they evaluate you and find that your condition meets the definition of disability. There will likely be a fee for the evaluation, and there may be a separate fee for the letter itself. The letter may also only be effective for a certain period of time. If you do have a regular doctor who has denied you a letter, these organizations may turn you away on the grounds that your regular medical professional has been able to evaluate you more thoroughly while in their care.
Getting a letter does not guarantee you accommodation if the changes impose an undue hardship on your landlord or employer. Your letter may allow you to keep your animal at work or in a home with a "no pet" policy, but emotional support animals are no longer grouped with service animals on airlines. They will be treated as pets.
Sample Letter to Request Accommodation for Your Service Animal From Your Landlord
If you would like to submit a sample letter for your doctor to work from, you can build on the following:
[Doctor's License Number]
I have been treating [Your Name] for [Length of Time as a Patient], which has allowed me to gain a good understanding of the limits imposed by their disability and corrective measures that help them complete necessary tasks independently and without undue difficulty. I am prescribing [Your Name] an emotional support animal to maintain their mental health and quality of life.
Please contact me with any questions regarding this recommendation.
Get an Emotional Support Animal Accommodation Request Letter Fast With DoNotPay
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 such as United Airlines, American Airlines, and Southwest Airlines about their accommodation options, and finding the most affordable online ESA-letter service.
- 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 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.
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