What is an Emotional Support Animal (ESA)?
An emotional support animal is an animal companion that offers some type of benefit to an individual with some form of disability. The animal is intended to provide companionship and support that will help alleviate at least one aspect of the disability.
How can I get an ESA?
Before writing an ESA letter for a client, the client will need to be assessed by a clinician. Several assessments will be given and the client must be seen for seven (7) consecutive sessions before a letter will be written.
An Emotional Support Animal is NOT a Service Animal
There may be some confusion when it comes to the Emotional Support Animal. In the eyes of the law, an ESA is not the same as a Service Animal. Service animals are usually of the canine species and are specifically trained to perform a task for a disabled individual. These tasks can vary in degree but are always used as a physical tool to aid the person (i.e., opening doors, guiding, alerting to an oncoming medical condition, etc.).
The ESA, on the other hand, can be of any species and is there purely to help comfort and calm the individual that suffers from emotional issues (i.e., phobias, anxiety, depression, etc.). These types of animals do not require any specialized training.
For these reasons, the Service Dog will be allowed into all public areas, whereas the Emotional Support Animal is only (by law) allowed into “no pets” policy rental units and the cabin of an aircraft.