How to Get Your Pet Registered as an Emotional Support Animal
For those of you who know me personally know that I absolutely adore animals. Dogs in particular, but in fact all animals big and small, touch a special place in my heart ever since I was a child. I am an active advocate with several animal humane agencies and animal activist groups. I work with agencies to develop laws against animal cruelty and donate money to shelters. I recently had an upsetting incident the day before Christmas which involved an airline not allowing my dog to fly on their aircraft with my two sons (who happen to be Army Veterans – no I am no seeking special favor for that, simply mentioning a fact) because he was not a designated ‘emotional support animal‘ on paper. Our dog is 12 years old and weighs 20.5lbs. This was upsetting because I was told by this airline that our dog was approved beforehand to fly, and once my sons were about to board the plane (after already checking in with our dog AND waiting at the gate for 4 hours) was told that our dog was “too big” to fly in cabin basically because he did not have a letter. He was in a size designated carrier according to the airline which also states on their pet policies that they have no ‘size limits’. The flight was under 3 hours. Believe me, I understand that policies are in place to protect animals to make sure that they are comfortable. My sons do everything in their power to make sure that our little dog is happy, safe and comfortable at all times. Almost to the point of sacrificing their own comfort, that is how much they love animals as well. Any dog lover understands this. Due to this airline not allowing our dog to travel that day we missed spending the Holidays together. Am I bitter about this? Kind of. I did bring this up on social media and received a ton of backlash from several people saying that I was trying to get favoritism from the airline by saying I was trying to break ‘the rules’ by saying my sons had served in the Military and therefore our dog should of been allowed to fly as a service animal. I happen to disagree. I was only trying to see my family over the holidays.
My only mistake was I did not have a letter saying our dog was an ’emotional support animal.’ Is he an actual emotional support animal? Yes I truly believe he is. My sons have witnessed several traumatic events serving for our country and our little dog provides them with much needed emotional comfort. Did I have a letter from a doctor stating this? Unfortunately not. My mistake completely.
Since then, I have traveled and witnessed numerous dogs flying in cabin that far outweigh our little dog in poundage and girth. Some have letters and some do not – I have asked their owners. Was this particular boarding agent in a particularly fowl mood that day wanting to exercise some power of their own? Who knows? It does happen.
What happened that day I believe was unfair. But life as we know it can be. My sons handled it diplomatically, professionally and civilly like the gentlemen that they are. I was a little more emotional. That happens when a Mom is kept away from her kids and little dog. Call me entitled, some have.
Does our dog have a letter now? You betcha. He’s got every letter, grade and registered certification available. Here’s how you can get yours too.
p.s. I am not an affiliate for this company and am not getting compensated for this.
An emotional support animal can really be life changing for someone who suffers from an emotional condition. However, in order for a pet to be officially recognized as an ESA, you need to first acquire an ESA letter.
Traditionally, you would have had to make an appointment to speak to a licensed mental health professional in person. After this, if you qualified for an ESA, you would then be granted a letter, with this process often taking months.
This has led many people to ask the question…
Can you get an ESA letter online?
An ESA letter is a prescription letter that has been written by a licensed mental health professional (LMHP).
Licensed social workers
Licensed professional counselors
The letter should confirm that you need an ESA, while providing more information on exactly how your ESA helps you.
If you do a Google search on this topic, you will be greeted with hundreds of different websites offering instant ESA letters online.
This is where you need to be careful…
To put it simply, yes, you can get an ESA letter online, but you need to be wary about the company that you choose to get the letter from.
There are so many scam ESA websites out there. Some of them will even offer to register your pet as an ESA, without sending you an ESA letter, even though there is no such thing as an ESA registry.
There are a few reputable ESA websites out there, one of which is CertaPet.
They basically act as a go-between in terms of getting your information quickly reviewed by a LMHP.
Wondering how this actually works?
Well, in terms of CertaPet, you would fill in their pre-screening online, which only takes about five minutes. The information you put in is then sent to a LMHP local to you. Your LMHP will review your information and, if you qualify, send you your official ESA letter in as little as 48 hours.
Thanks to websites such as CertaPet, the process of actually getting an ESA letter is easier and more hassle-free than ever.
However, don’t forget that you do still need to qualify for an ESA before your LMHP will sign off on your letter.
In order to qualify, you must be suffering from a mental disorder or disability, such as:
Depression or Anxiety
Attention Deficit Disorder
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
As mentioned earlier, your disability, along with information on how your ESA would help with this, will be described in your ESA letter.
Thanks to the internet, acquiring an ESA letter is no longer a stressful process. However, while you can now get an ESA letter online, you do need to be careful about the websites that you choose, making sure that you do not fall for any of the many ESA scams out there.
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