It is getting increasingly noticed that animals can make significant contributions to a person’s mental well being. A service animal or an emotional support animal is specifically trained to help people in distress. The role they play in the life of their owner makes it imminent that they stay with their owners all the time.
Who Needs an ESA Letter?
For those diagnosed with a psychological disorder such as anxiety or depression, an emotional support animal provides a therapeutic benefit through companionship. In the United States, the federal grants certain rights to individuals with emotional support animals.
For instance, an ESA might need access to travel in flights or get landlord approval for accommodations through the Air Carrier Act and the Fair Housing Act. An ESA certification grants them these rights. This is where an ESA letter comes into play.
If there is enough evidence of emotional or psychological disabilities, an individual can acquire a letter from a certified professional.
How to Get an ESA Letter?
Today, it is easier than ever to register an ESA. Several services, both online and offline, provide access to certified health professionals who can assist you in the process.
An ESA letter is provided by a licensed medical health professional, stating that you are under the care of a therapist who has prescribed an emotional animal to you. You can make an appointment with your healthcare professional who can assign you an ESA. A psychologist who is not your doctor would be acting as an evaluator, who will decide whether you are eligible for an ESA.
Alternatively, there are also online clinical organizations where you can request a letter from a certified professional based on your personal information. However, when you take the second approach, there are a few things to note.
How to Avoid ESA Scams
While the internet makes it easily accessible to get an ESA letter, it is also not uncommon for individuals to get scammed. Companies that promise instant approvals might not provide you a legally binding letter. Keep in mind the following points while consulting an online agency.
- The Time Consideration
A psychologist needs to consider your case before approving you with an emotional support animal. As it requires time, an instant letter might be your red flag. This means that the person who signed your letter has not consulted your care or, worse, that the person is not even aware of it.
- Low Cost
A certified professional will not be charging you too low to approve an ESA. As the ideal process takes time, they would and should be charging you a consultation fee for their experience and insight.
How to Identify an Authentic ESA Letter
An ESA letter might vary from one professional to another. Regardless, the elements and key points remain the same.
- The official letterhead of the mental health professional
- Their license number and direct contact information. You can check their license on the state’s professional database.
- Establishes that you have a mental disability.
- Date of Issuance and expiration date, no longer than 12 months, which could be renewed. You should beware of platforms that advertise “lifetime” ESA letters as it instantly points out to fake.
Ensuring the legitimacy of your letter is crucial as you could be in jeopardy if the flight company or landlord reaches out to verify the letter.
Importance of an ESA Letter
Having an emotional support animal letter exposes you to a wide range of benefits. Apart from the obvious benefits of having a loving animal by your side, an ESA will help you protect yours as well as your pet’s rights. That said, even if you choose not to visit a therapist, make sure that you get the certification from a licensed professional.