Emotional Support Animal FAQ

  • For your dog to be considered an Emotional Support Dog, you must have an ESA Letter from a Licensed Mental Health Professional (LMHP) in your state. To learn about the process of getting an ESA Letter, click here.
  • You can take a free screening test to discover if you are a good candidate for an emotional support dog.
  • The Fair Housing Act defines the housing benefits your Emotional Support Dog may receive.  Click here to learn more.
  • Emotional Support Dogs are not considered Service Dogs under the Americans with Disabilities Act. They therefore don't have the same access and travel privileges as Service Dogs. To learn more about Service Dogs, and the process of getting one, click here
  • CertaPet can connect you with a Licensed Mental Health Therapist in your state today. To get started, take the free screening test.

When it comes to Emotional Support Animals, or "ESAs," there's no shortage of questions to ask, or misinformation to wade through.

Here, we'll attempt to answer the most frequently asked questions and to clear up the most common misconceptions concerning Emotional Support Animals.

If you still have any unanswered questions after reading the article below, please reach out to ask@certapet.com.

Can't Wait to Get Started?

The ESA Application process at CertaPet starts with a fast, free screening test that you can take in just 5 minutes! Discover if you're a good candidate for an ESA today!

What is an Emotional Support Animal?

An emotional support animal (ESA) is a pet that provides companionship to a person who suffers from symptoms of an emotional or mental disability, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and more.

Unlike a service animal, an emotional support animal is not always granted access to places of public accommodation, such as restaurants or stores. This is because ESAs don't receive the same type of training that service animals do. 

However, ESAs do enjoy special privileges when it comes to housing, thanks to the Fair Housing Act, a federal law that views ESAs as a “reasonable accommodation” in housing units that have a “no pets” policy. This means that landlords must allow your ESA to live in your housing unit with you even if animals are normally not allowed on-site. Landlords are also not allowed to charge a pet fee when it comes to ESAs. 

How do you get an Emotional Support Animal?

In order to qualify for an emotional support animal, you need a letter from a Licensed Mental Health Professional (LMHP) which outlines your need for the animal. 

CertaPet is a platform that connects you with an LMHP in your state. We have streamlined the entire process so that you can get a completely legitimate ESA letter from the comfort of your home in the quickest time possible. To get started, take the free screening test.

What are the benefits of having an Emotional Support Animal?

As an owner of an Emotional Support Animal, you don't have to pay a Pet Fee for your ESA to live with you. You are also permitted to have your ESA live with you even in housing units with a no pets policy. This is thanks to the Fair Housing Act, which is a federal law. 

What is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?

While Emotional Support Animals or Comfort Animals are often used as part of a medical treatment plan, they are not considered Service Animals under the ADA. ESAs provide companionship, relieve loneliness, and sometimes help with depression, anxiety, and certain phobias, but do not have the same special training that Service Animals do (whereby the animal performs specific tasks that assist people with physical, emotional, or mental disabilities). As a result, the ADA does not apply for ESAs and their owners.

What is the Fair Housing Act?

Emotional support animals are protected under the Fair Housing Act, which prevents landlords from discriminating against people with disabilities.

What is the Air Carrier Access Act?

The Air Carrier Access Act prohibits commercial airlines from discriminating against individuals with disabilities. However, the ACAA only applies to Service Animals, who have been specially trained to perform specific tasks that assist people with physical, emotional, or mental disabilities.

Emotional Support Animals are not recognized as Service Animals under federal law, and as of January 11, 2021, due to regulations passed by the U.S. Department of Transportation, the allowance of Emotional Support Animals onboard flights will vary from airline to airline. Always contact your airline of choice for their most up-to-date policies on Emotional Support Animals.

Here are just some of the airlines who have already announced changes to their ESA policies. You will still be able to travel with your ESA on most of these airlines, but your ESA will now be recognized as a pet, and you will have to pay a Pet Fee for them. If your pet is too large, they may also be forced to travel via airline cargo hold. 

DOT regulations emotional support animals

On the other hand, Service Animals like Psychiatric Service Dogs, enjoy more extensive privileges when it comes to public access and travel. You can learn more about Psychiatric Service Dogs, and the process of getting one, here

Looking for an ESA?

The ESA Application process at CertaPet starts with a fast, free screening test that you can take in just 5 minutes! Discover if you're a good candidate for an ESA today!

Is CertaPet 'Legit'? How Do I Know It’s Legal?"

CertaPet has helped over 65,000 pet owners just like you get an Emotional Support Animal. We have over 1,500 reviews on Google, Yelp, Facebook, and YotPo.

Our Licensed Mental Health Professional network covers 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico and Canada.

Additionally, CertaPet is BBB Accredited.

Our ESA Letters are fully compliant and are all approved by qualified mental health professionals. This ensures our letters are 100% legal.

Still unsure about CertaPet? Just call us at (877) 207-0561 and speak with a member of our customer support team. Or read some of our stellar reviews here.

I just completed the free CertaPet screening. What’s next?

First, you need to select which ESA Letter Consultation is best suited for you: Housing, Travel or Combined. You then need to purchase a consultation with a Licensed Mental Health Professional. Afterward, you'll fill out a more in-depth assessment and your assigned mental health professional will determine whether or not you would benefit from an ESA. If approved, they will personally write a recommendation for an Emotional Support Animal.

How long does the approval process take?

Right now, our turnaround to be contacted by a therapist to schedule a phone session is around 2 business days. If approved, you will be able to download a digital copy of your letter right away from our platform. We can also send a hard copy upon request via USPS Priority Mail. The shipping time usually takes 2-3 business days.

What is the refund policy?

Your consultation is protected by CertaPet’s Money-Back Guarantee. If, for any reason, your application is not approved by the Licensed Mental Health Professional, your fee will be refunded, excluding a USD40 for consultation and administration fee.

What kind of Licensed Mental Health Professional will sign my letter?

Our LMHPs consist of Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists, Licensed Clinical Social Workers, Licensed Clinical Professional Counselors, and Licensed Mental Health Counselors.

All of our Licensed Mental Health Professionals are fully qualified and have passed board exams. The LMHP we select will be one that is legally qualified to approve ESA Letters for your state.

Which ESA Letter Consultation should I choose?

If you live in rented housing, then you should get the Housing Letter Consultation. This will allow your ESA to live with you even in housing where there's a 'no pets' policy. There's also a Travel Letter Consultation option, for those who may be traveling with their ESA at least once in the next year. 

What does the ESA Letter look like?

The ESA Letter is issued directly from a LMHP with their license number and their contact information included. The letter will come on the professional letterhead of the Licensed Mental Health Professional and contain everything legally required for an ESA prescription within the body of the letter.

Does the ESA Letter expire? How often do I need to renew?

Your ESA Letter will last for one year. You then have the opportunity to renew your ESA Letter via CertaPet at a discounted rate.

Can I use my ESA Letter for on-campus housing?

Yes, to use an emotional support animal letter for university housing, select the 'Campus Housing Letter' option during your Assessment..

Can I get a letter for more than one ESA?

It is very rare that a therapist would agree to approve to more than one ESA. This is mostly due to the fact that it is extremely difficult to justify more than one animal being clinically necessary. Additionally, housing authorities tend to push back hard if there is more than one ESA. 

How do I submit my ESA Letter to a landlord?

You will be able to download a digital copy of your letter right away from our platform. We can also send a hard copy upon request via USPS Priority Mail. The shipping time usually takes 2-3 business days. For landlords, we strongly recommend that you present the letter immediately in-person. Nearly all landlords are extremely accommodating.

What rights do I get with an ESA Letter? Where can I take my ESA Letter?"

Because HUD states that Emotional Support Animals require "reasonable accommodation," your ESA Letter entitles you to live with your ESA even in housing where there's a 'no pets' policy. You also cannot be charged a Pet Fee for your ESA. 

Do I need to use a “registration” site to make my pet an ESA?

No. The ESA Letter signed by a mental health professional is all you need. Registering your pet on a “registry site” is not a legal requirement for ESAs.

Do I need additional accessories like an Emotional Support Animal Vest or ID Card?

Your ESA Letter, signed by a Licensed Mental Health Professional, is the only thing that legally recognizes your animal as an Emotional Support Animal. Vests and ID Cards are not necessary (same goes for Psychiatric Service Dogs and Service Animals), although they can make it easier for the public to identify your animal as a comfort animal and not just a pet. 

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