Depression and anxiety are on the rise, as well as the number of people who seek treatment for their mental health. If you fall in this category, you may have looked at alternative options besides medicine. If you've tried to research how to get an emotional support animal, chances are you've gotten a bunch of different links for online registries along with confusing suggestions on how to obtain proper documentation. Having recently went through the process of getting an Emotional Support Animal, here are 5 clear, legitimate guidelines.
1. No special training
Unlike Service Animals, emotional support animals do not need specific training. As long as the animal is friendly and can get along with you as well as others, the animal is okay to be an ESA.
2. Covered under the FHA
Emotional support animals are covered under the Fair Housing Act. The FHA is in place to eliminate discrimination against those with disabilities trying to obtain housing. This means that a landlord or apartment complex is legally not allowed to charge you pet fees for an ESA, as long as proof is provided.
3. No certificate/online ID's
Emotional Support animals do not need special certificates or online ID's. They do NOT need to be on a national registry. Many times these online sites suggest you need to pay to register your animal. This is not true.
4. Letter from Psychiatrist
To have an emotional support animal you do need a letter from your psychiatrist stating your diagnosis, including the DSM-IV code. This letter is extremely important and can be used to show apartment complexes/airlines that your animal is in fact a legitimate emotional support animal and should be treated as such.
5. No shame
This is absolutely no shame in having an emotional support animal. As someone who has an emotional support dog, I can definitively say he has helped me more than I ever realized he would. When I take him places in his vest, there is little judgement from others. The majority of the time people are so fascinated and supportive. If you are considering an ESA, I strongly urge you to take the leap.