There are many benefits to registering your animal for emotional support. Whether you need to have your support animal by your side for PTSD, Asperger’s or any mental health condition, having your support animal registered means you will have an easier time of it all.
Here in this guide, we give an overview of what you need to know to register your animal as an emotional support animal (ESA).
Emotional Support Animal vs Service Animal
Before we begin, it’s important to know that there is a difference between an emotional support animal and a service animal.
The main difference is that ESAs provide a more holistic and therapeutic service. A service dog is specially trained to help people with disabilities. ESAs are not required to be trained. They are present to provide emotional, therapeutic support for those who require it.
Usually, ESAs can be a range of different animals. Service animals are usually either mini-horses or, most likely, dogs.
There are differences as well in the type of registration. Service animals must go through rigorous training, whereas the pet that you already have can be an emotional support animal. With the right registration, this also opens up many opportunities.
How Do I Register My Animal as an ESA?
Registering your emotional support animal will allow you more flexibility and access for when you can travel with your pet in tow. Above all, a registered support animal will ensure better peace of mind and security.
Websites such as the site for the ESA Registration of America can help with registering animals for emotional support. These associations allow you easy access and walk you through all the steps. They can schedule an appointment with a mental health professional to see if you would benefit from an ESA. They can also check if your already existing animal qualifies as an ESA.
What Benefits Do I Get from Registering My ESA?
There are two main benefits to having your ESA reistered: you can take them on board airplanes, and you can live with them even in no-pet housing.
1) Airplane Access
Under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), you can take your ESA on an airplane. It is always a good idea to contact the airline before you do go on board with your animal, however. Each airline has different rules and regulations. The general consensus is registered ESAs can be in the cabin with you on the flight.
Usually, you must have an ESA letter to have your animal on board with no additional cost. Again, this varies according to the airline. Your animal must be well-behaved, well-trained and calm.
2) Access to Pet-Free Housing
Any rentals which are not temporary (so anything that is not a holiday home or Airbnb) must, by law, allow you to keep your registered ESA with you. The owner of the house cannot charge any extra fees for living with an ESA animal unless any damage is caused to the house.
You simply need to show the owner/landlord a letter written by a mental health professional. By law, all ESA owners must have this letter on hand.
3) Access to College Dormitories
Your ESA is allowed in college dorms. Again, you must have a letter written, and authorized by, a licensed mental health professional. As long as you do, you have the right to keep your ESA in your college dorm.
Does My ESA Require a Harness or Vest?
Law does not require that your ESA wear any specific clothing or harness to distinguish it.
However, it is encouraged that you place an identifying label on your ESA. This will allow people around to recognize that the animal is providing you with support. Any marker to discern your ESA will mean, ideally, less hassle in communicating why your animal is accompanying you.