- Emotional Support Animals
- What is an emotional support animal?
- Credentials for Emotional Support Animals
- The Importance of Certification for Emotional Support Animals
- Emotional support animal letter template
Emotional Support Animals
Have you ever heard someone say emotional support animal (ESA)? This term has become increasingly popular in recent years, and you may have seen videos of people bringing their dogs into the cabin of an airplane when their dog is actually an emotional support animal. But can all animals be considered emotional support animals? And how do you certify your pet as an emotional support animal?What does the emotional support animal letter template look like?
What is an emotional support animal?
In the United States, we can see that there are more people with pets than those around us, and almost every family has a pet. Dogs and cats even have access to department stores and travel on trains and airplanes. Many pets are not just pets, but pets that are called “emotional support animals”.
As the name suggests, an emotional support animal is an animal that supports the psychological aspects of a human being, also known as an “ESA”. To put it simply, they live with people who are mentally unstable and cannot be stabilized without an animal. Unlike guide dogs, which are called service animals, emotional support animals are treated as pets.
Just as people with disabilities need 24-hour service dogs to take care of their surroundings, those who live with ESAs can’t live without their animals. There is always some discomfort in living or psychologically without an animal. For this reason, many places in the United States, including airports, allow access to them only with a certificate approved by the U.S. government. Dogs and cats are common in public places, besides these there are also chicks, piglets and I have seen people who have peacocks.
Credentials for Emotional Support Animals
I say “U.S. government-recognized credentials,” but the required credential for an ESA is a psychiatric letter. In order to bring a pet into a public place, you must go to a psychiatrist for counseling. That said, unlike guide dogs, where the animal itself is qualified, it is the person who holds the qualification in an ESA. Receiving counseling from an expert, the pet can become an ESA only if the person who really needs the animal receives a letter from the doctor.
However, since the Internet has become widespread, this one-on-one consultation with a psychiatrist has changed to “just talk to a psychiatrist on the Internet”. As a result, in recent years in the U.S., there has been skepticism that ESA eligibility may be too easy to obtain.
ESAs outside the United States
As far as Canada is concerned, ESAs are only available to veterans in the United States, and next to Canada as a country, only veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of war, etc. are recognized as having an ESA. Of course, physical access to animals, such as service dogs, is allowed in public places, but emotional support is just as important as physical support, and it appears that ESAs have been enacted in the U.S. recently. People are calling for a review of the law as they are positively accepted.
In the case of the UK, petitions to legalize ESAs in the UK, the system itself known as ESAs has not yet been approved in that country and mentally unstable people are on the rise in different countries and in the US. Some of the petitions state that the European ESA should be included in the law because there are many families living with pets in the United States. Since traveling with pets is now becoming mainstream, it could indeed be enacted as a law.
The Importance of Certification for Emotional Support Animals
Even though emotional support animals have been accepted by the general public, they do need to provide credentials in public places, especially for some of the less common types of pets. And when it comes to lodging, it’s important to clarify this with the landlord ahead of time. At the University of Michigan there are just a few rules related to bringing emotional support animals to student housing as follows. Students wishing to utilize ESAs in university housing must identify and register with DASS prior to needing housing for the animal and provide the following documentation:
- Completion of the ESA Disability Verification Form (or equivalent information) by the student’s treating professional
- DASS reserves the right to request additional clarification or documentation to substantiate the disability and/or need for accommodation.
- DASS will verify the need for approved accommodations and work with resident and campus officials to facilitate a support network.
- The University of Michigan-Flint reserves the right to request additional clarification or documentation to ensure that the animal is appropriate for University accommodations. This may include, but is not limited to, situations involving animals under 12 months of age, animals considered unique (i.e., not cats or dogs), or animals suspected of posing a health or safety risk to others.
For unique animals (i.e., not cats or dogs), the student must demonstrate a disability-related need for treatment of the specific animal or specific type of animal. Residents with unique animals should also be prepared to provide the following additional information from their treatment professional:
- Date of last counseling with the individual
- Demonstration of any unique circumstances of the student’s need for the specific animal (if the individual already owns or identifies it) or the specific type of animal, and whether the treatment professional has reliable information about the animal or whether they specifically recommend this type of animal.
Emotional support animal letter template
The existence of an Emotional support animal letter provides several benefits to its owner:
- Airlines are required to allow owners to bring their ESAs on board at no charge;
- Even if a no-pet policy applies to your lease (and no additional payment or deposit is required), the landlord is obligated to allow you to reside with the ESA in the rented residential unit.
- The good news for those who love to travel but can’t afford to leave their pets home alone is that ESA-eligible animals can board airplanes as well as most other places normally inaccessible to regular pets. Plus, there is no fee for transferring the ESA or lodging (the law prohibits setting such fees in the first place).
What is an Emotional support animal letter template?
Typically, a private psychiatrist or psychologist should write an Emotional support animal letter confirming that the person is eligible to have a pet in the home and is capable of properly caring for the pet. It is important to note that the professional must be authorized by the appropriate authorities in your state of residence.
- The letter must certify that your diagnosis recommends an ESA and that the ESA is part of your treatment.
- Some airlines also require that the letter specify the breed and weight of the animal.
Requirements for Emotional support animal letter template
- The letter must be on the official letterhead of the licensing specialist and contain the physician’s contact information, license number and signature. In addition, it must be dated no later than one year after submission.
- The letter contains the patient’s name and lists the limitations that ESA can help resolve.
- It is also necessary to indicate that you need the animal for travel as well as identifying data (breed, weight) for the animal.
- We must warn you that there are penalties under U.S. law for falsifying documents. You may use the sample letter to show it to your doctor, but they must fill it out and sign it themselves.