An emotional support animal can help you with many different types of emotional and mental challenges. Here are some of the most common questions about emotional support animals.
An emotional support animal is any animal that helps someone with psychiatric or mental issues to lead a more fulfilling and normal life. While these animals don't require any specific training, they are much more than pets. These animals provide you with therapeutic benefits based on companionship. While dogs and cats are the most common types of emotional support animal, any species that can be kept as a pet can be an emotional support animal.
You qualify for an emotional support animal if you have a mental or psychiatric disability. This includes PTSD, depression, anxiety disorder, autism, and phobias. An emotional support animal must be prescribed by a licensed medical or psychiatric professional.
Emotional support animals do not qualify as service animals, so they aren't allowed in most public places. However, landlords must make reasonable accommodations to allow you to have an emotional support animal. Reasonable accommodation means that your request can be denied if it places an undue financial burden on the housing provider, or if it is determined to be dangerous. This can also include that if your animal is making it impossible for others to live there, you can be asked to leave. Laws also allow emotional support animals to fly in the cabin with their owners in most cases.
You will need documentation to have your animal classified as an emotional support animal. If you intend to travel with your animal, you will need an ESA Letter. You can get an ESA letter from your doctor or a mental health professional. Your physician will determine if you have a legitimate need for an emotional support animal and if your animal helps alleviate your condition.
Your ESA letter needs to be on a letterhead or RX paper and while it needs to specify that you need an emotional support animal as a treatment for your disability, the disability does not need to be identified on the letter because of HIPPA rights.
If you have specific questions or feel like you have been unjustly denied your housing for your need of an emotional support animal, contact your nearest Housing and Urban Development (HUD) office.
Emotional support animals are shown to lower stress levels and help to alleviate the symptoms of mental and psychiatric conditions. You have the right to a happy an independent life, and an emotional support animal can help you achieve it.