Anyone who has been a pet owner understands the comfort and support an animal companion can provide. Due to their ability to offer unconditional love and assistance, mental health professionals have recognized the positive impact that owning an animal can have for individuals managing disabilities and mental health problems. Referred to officially as Emotional Support Animals (ESA), these animals give therapeutic assistance and support to their owners. Learning how to register an emotional support animal is the first step to understanding how to begin the process.
Registering An Emotional Support Animal
To register an animal as an ESA, you will need to first obtain an ESA letter from a licensed health care provider. The letter must contain a written explanation of the professional’s prescription of the ESA for the individual who is dealing with a disability or mental health issue. While the animal does not need to be licensed or registered, the ESA letter should explain the disability you are suffering from and how the animal is essential to your daily functioning or overall wellbeing. The licensed health care provider must also sign and date the letter, as well as include his or her license number. Keep in mind that this letter will only be valid for one year, so you may need to have your provider write another one if necessary after 12 months.
About Emotional Support Animals
Emotional Support Animals are given rights Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but it is vital to be aware that they are not provided with the same rights as service animals. While ESAs don’t need any specific training, service animals have been uniquely trained to assist and perform specific types of tasks for people with disabilities and are therefore given the right to accompany their owners in public places. Since ESAs do not have extensive training, they are not afforded as many rights under the ADA. However, they are given some essential rights, including the following:
Fair Housing Act (FHA): The FHA allows individuals to have their ESA live with them in their residence regardless of whether there is a no pet rule. It also requires building managers to make adjustments for individuals with ESAs.
Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA): The ACCA provides individuals the right to have their ESA accompany them on airplanes and requires airline companies to make adjustments for them.
Understanding how to register an emotional support animal can help give you a better idea of everything that is required to complete the process.