We all know the feeling that our furry friends bring us when we come home to them: they rush to the door, smother us in kisses, and suddenly any bad thing that happened in our day is gone simply by their incomparable presence. What you may not know is that your companion may qualify to be registered as an Emotional Support Animal for you! Let me give you the quick 411 on having an “ESA” in your life…
What is an ESA?
Also called an assistance animal, an ESA is a companion animal that provides therapeutic benefit to an individual with a mental or psychiatric disability.
What animals qualify for an ESA?
An emotional support animal can be any type of animal that serves as a companion to you, and can provide comfort or relief to any of your symptoms accompanying your mental disability. Although dogs are the most popular registered emotional support animals, there’s no reason your cat, bird, lizard, etc. cannot serve as your support, as long as you can prove their companionship brings a form of relief to your symptoms.
Who qualifies to have an ESA?
Anyone with an identified and diagnosed mental disability qualifies to have an emotional support animal.
Some of these diagnoses could include, but are not limited to :
Where is your ESA qualified to go?
Unlike a registered service dog, an ESA does not have open access to public places as many would think, however, there are some surprising places that an ESA is appropriate to take. Like an airplane! According to Service Dog Certification, Delta Airlines had over 250,000 emotional support animals fly with them last year! Additional to flying, an ESA qualifies to live within a home or apartment that has a “no pet” policy.
Your ESA is even approved to stay with you in a hotel when they’re officially registered!
How does your companion become an ESA?
You must be certified as emotionally disabled by a psychologist, therapist, psychiatrist,
or other duly-licensed and/or certified mental health professional via a formal and appropriately
formatted letter on the professional’s agency letterhead.
Ensure that your letter contains the following:
The use of an ESA is growing substantially as people are learning all of the benefits that come from having a comforting companion by their side. Recently, even Uber has been working to incorporate ESA regulations within the rides that they offer! If after reading this article you feel that you would benefit
from having an ESA, be sure to talk to your mental health provider today! Comfort may be closer than you knew!
How to Qualify for An Emotional Support Animal. (n.d.). Retrieved February 21, 2018, from
https://www.servicedogcertifications.org/how-to- qualify-for- an-emotional- support-animal
Counseling Intern, Level 1