How to Get My Dog Certified as an Emotional Support Animal

Dogs are some of the most incredible creatures on the planet, not just because they are adorable and highly trainable, but because they are uniquely attuned to our actions and emotions. Has it ever seemed like your dog was comforting you when you were down? It is for this reason that dogs can be great emotional support animals (ESAs).

 If you’re struggling with a mental health disorder, certifying your dog as an emotional support animal may be beneficial to you. In this article, we’ll discuss who can benefit from an ESA and how to go about certifying your dog as an ESA. The process is simpler than you might think!

emotional support dog


 Who Can Benefit From an ESA?

Anyone struggling with a disorder like depression, anxiety, PTSD, autism, or bipolar disorder could benefit from an ESA. Note that this is not an exhaustive list of disorders but rather some relevant examples.

 So, how do ESAs help people? Not only are they around to provide comfort through touch and companionship, but taking care of an animal can help people keep a routine. Because dogs need to be walked, they will also help their owners get more exercise, and exercise itself has been proven to improve mental health.

 Not only that, but dogs depend on their owners for everything and would struggle to survive on their own. Thus, taking care of a pet can increase one’s sense of self-worth because they know they are the reason their pet is happy and well-fed.

How to Certify Your Dog as an ESA

Unfortunately, emotional support animals do not enjoy many privileges. The only real benefit to having your dog officially recognized as an ESA is that you would be able to live in any rental (even those that don’t allow dogs) without having to pay pet fees, thanks to the Fair Housing Act.

 Otherwise, ESAs do not enjoy rights like service dogs do; emotional support animals are not allowed in public spaces that aren’t dog-friendly and they aren’t allowed on public transport or in the cabins of airplanes.

 If you’re still interested, then let’s talk about certifying your dog as an ESA. There are two different types of certification that you can seek.

 The first is registering your dog as an emotional support animal. Through US Service Animal’s program, you will receive an ID card with your animal’s photo and information as well as a certificate that verifies your dog’s registration in their database, which is one of the largest in the U.S.

 Usually, presenting these items can be enough to stop people from questioning you in your day-to-day life. However, if you’re looking to live in a rental that doesn’t allow dogs or are looking to avoid paying pet fees, then your dog will need to be federally recognized as an ESA. This second type of certification will require you to get an ESA letter from a doctor who is licensed in your state.

How to Get an ESA Letter

An ESA letter is much like a prescription and acts as proof that you do, in fact, need your ESA as a form of treatment for your mental health disorder. USSA can also help you get your ESA letter by connecting you with a mental health professional in your state who can evaluate your needs. If you’ve already registered your dog with them, then you will also receive a $25 discount on a consultation for an ESA letter.

 In order to qualify for an ESA letter, you must have some sort of mental health disorder. Examples include anxiety, PTSD, depression, bipolar disorder, autism, stress disorders, and OCD. Other disorders or disabilities may also qualify, as there is no specific or exhaustive list of which disorders qualify.

 Getting an ESA letter through USSA is a simple process: give them a call or submit your information online to begin the process. You’ll then be able to schedule a consultation with a licensed professional. Finally, you’ll receive a diagnosis, and if you qualify, you’ll be emailed your ESA letter. The best part is you don’t have to pay if you don’t qualify.

 Do note that in some states, such as Montana, Arkansas, and California, you are required to have at least a 30-day relationship with your provider before you can get an ESA letter. If you live in one of these states, they will not be able to provide the ESA letter immediately after the consultation should you qualify.

Register Your ESA Today

Emotional support animals are a viable treatment for mental health disorders. They provide comfort through companionship but can also help their owners stick to a schedule and get more exercise.

 Registering your dog as an ESA can be beneficial to you as having an ID card may help you avoid scrutiny. If that isn’t enough, you can seek to have your dog federally recognized as an emotional support animal by getting an ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional.

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