How to Get a Therapy Dog Certification in California
Getting is essential if having an animal companion is critical to your mental or emotional health. There's no difference between an emotional support dog and a regular pet for the uninitiated. That poses some challenges if you're looking to move into a property that disallows pets.
A therapy dog certificate or an ESA letter is an official document that exempts you from the no-pet rules in a residential setting. It mandates landlords to waive such regulations and allow you to keep the dog on the premises. Naturally, getting an ESA letter is subject to stringent requirements and can prove a tricky undertaking.
Luckily, dedicated services such as DoNotPay can help you cut the chase and secure a legitimate ESA letter in record time.
What Is an Emotional Support Dog?
Also known as emotional support animals (ESA) or comfort dogs, therapy dogs that are classified above regular pets. Besides providing comfort and companionship, help alleviate the symptoms of a person's mental or emotional disability.
A licensed mental health professional prescribes therapy dogs to people who have a disabling mental or emotional disability. A licensed psychologist, therapist, or psychiatrist must determine that the animal is vital to your health and wellbeing. Despite support dogs forming part of a medical treatment plan, they aren't classified as service animals by the ADA.
Typically, emotional support dogs help relieve loneliness, help with certain phobias, anxiety, depression, and more. Unlike service dogs, therapy dogs don't require special training. They only need to provide therapeutic contact to improve their owner's social, physical, emotional, or cognitive functioning.
Emotional Support Dogs in California
While California law doesn't mandate that emotional animals be allowed in public places, it enshrines the right to use therapy dogs in other settings. For instance, tenants have a right to live with their emotional support dogs under any circumstances.
The law requires landlords and housing providers to make reasonable accommodations in their policies and rules to accommodate such tenants. Under California law, landlords "may not refuse to make reasonable accommodation," which includes waiving the no-pet rules to let you keep a therapy dog on the premises.
Are There Specifications for a Support Dog?
Unlike service dogs, there are no specific requirements for therapy dogs. Your emotional support can be a dog of any breed, weight, or size. It can be any animal of your choice so long as it is prescribed by a qualified mental health professional.
However, a housing service provider may deny your request to keep a support animal in California if the animal:
|Safety Threat||Poses a direct health or safety threat to others|
|Physical Damage||Is likely to cause substantial physical property damage|
|Facility Interference||Is expected to interfere with a facility's intended purpose|
However, determining the amount of threat or the damage the dog may cause requires an individualized assessment based on objective evidence. The evidence must be based on the support animal's specific conduct rather than speculation about how similar animals behave.
You need to prove that it's a therapy dog to get landlords and other housing service providers to waive the no-pet rules. For that, you need an ESA letter for housing. This letter gives you the legal right to keep the dog on the premises despite the no-pets policy.
You can sue a landlord who refuses your accommodation, waive the no-pet rules, or attempt to charge a pet deposit after presenting an ESA letter. DoNotPay can help initiate court proceedings against errant landlords in California.
What Is an ESA Letter?
An Emotional Support Animal is a certified letter from a licensed mental health professional expressing your legal rights to have a support animal. It proves to your landlord that your dog is simply a pet but part of your medical treatment plan.
An ESA letter decrees you have an emotional or mental disability diagnosed by a licensed professional. The letter reiterates your mental health service provider's recommendation that you need an emotional support dog. The letter underpins your right to request accommodation for yourself and your therapy dog as enshrined in the Fair Housing Act.
A typical ESA letter for housing is highly personal. It must include your name, diagnosis, and a prescription for a support dog by your medical provider. You should present the letter to prove your disability and the right to a support dog.
A genuine ESA letter must indicate that you're under the licensed mental professional's care, that you have an emotional or mental disability, and that you need an emotional animal to help with your condition.
An ESA letter must include:
- Your LMPH's letterhead
- Your disability
- Recommend an emotional support animal
- Have the LMHP's License number
- Have the LMPH's date and signature
How to Get Therapy Dog Certification by Yourself
Therapy dog certification is often used interchangeably with getting an ESA letter. That's because you don't need to certify your therapy, but you need to secure a written prescription for a licensed health professional.
The first step in getting an ESA letter entails searching for a licensed health service provider.
- Search for a licensed health professional such as a psychologist, therapist, or psychiatrist near your location.
- Enroll in treatment sessions and establish a relationship with the LMHP for at least 30 days.
- The mental professional should conclude that you have an emotional or mental problem from your sessions. Some of the conditions that are eligible for support dogs include:
- Social anxiety
- Panic disorder
- Bipolar disorder
- Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Request an ESA letter. You must ensure that the mental health professional is familiar with ESA letters and can write one perfectly.
Next Steps for Requesting an ESA Letter if You Can't Do It Yourself
If you're already seeing a licensed therapist about your emotional or mental disability, you may request them for an ESA letter. However, getting an ESA letter might prove challenging if you don't have an official diagnosis.
Specialized services such as DoNotPay can help you cut through the chase when looking for an ESA letter. We can link you with an LMPH and get you a support animal approval in a few days through our service. Note that we don't supply the letter but work with licensed mental health professionals to help you get the ESA letters quickly.
DoNotPay also handles all ESA concerns, including contacting your landlord, checking with airlines for ESA options, and requesting ESA accommodation in other places.
Here's How DoNotPay Can Help You Get A Therapy Dog In California:
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 ESA 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.
What Else Can DoNotPay Do?
Emotional support animals are highly misunderstood, and their owners often go to great lengths to prove their legitimacy. We've built a unique product to help people with emotional and mental disabilities lead a quality life. Our services can help you:
- Get an ESA letter quickly
- Learn about ESA dogs
- Identify airlines with ESA options
- Get an ESA letter for housing
- Check the United Airlines' ESA policy
- Understand the Fair Housing Act
- Check Southwest ESA policies
- Understand ESA letter format
- Build your emotional support animal knowledge
- Understand American Airline's ESA policies