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The Ultimate Guide: How to Register an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) –
A Step-by-Step Process

Updated on Feb 13, 2024 by Daulton Dougan
Emotional support animals are animals that give therapeutic benefits to individuals suffering from any mental or emotional health conditions. These canine companions provide relief and support for psychological symptoms or emotional stress. Studies show that being with emotional support animals has major benefits on the overall health and wellness of the individual and can improve their sleep, mental health, and blood pressure levels.
With unconditional love and constant companionship, these emotional support animals have proven to improve the attention, compassion, and awareness of individuals suffering from mental health conditions. Moreover, studies demonstrate that interacting with animals lowers cortisol levels(stress hormone), blood pressure levels, and feelings of loneliness and isolation.
These emotional support animals have surprising psychological and therapeutic benefits for their handlers. Our one responsibility towards these furry friends is to legitimize their presence with an ESA letter that would help in ensuring the protection of legal rights like FHA and ACAA that allow handlers to accommodate and travel with their ESAs without any discrimination.
Register an Emotional Support Animal

How to Register for an Emotional Support Animal?

The process of ESA registration involves listing your pet in an online database that delivers an identification number or ID card for the animal. However, being incorporated in one of these registries does not necessarily demonstrate that your pet is an emotional support animal.
An ESA letter will help the handler enjoy the housing rights with their emotional support animal. However, it is important to note that there is no need to register your ESA as it does not have any legal benefits. The only document that legally legitimizes the emotional support animal is an ESA letter.
Several websites offer ESA letters however, the legitimacy of the ESA letter is very important as an illegitimate ESA would put you and your ESA into trouble. Therefore. an individual must choose a reputable and legitimate platform like Fast ESA Letter, which is the most reliable and trusted online platform for ESA letters. Their letters adhere to the fair housing policies and are acceptable almost everywhere.

What is The Main Difference Between the ESA Letter and the ESA Registration?

There’s no such ESA registry for your emotional support animal. A website that offers to “register” your pet in a registry or database is known as an ESA registry is (usually for a fee). This is not necessary and is not required by law. An emotional support animal cannot receive any legal advantages by being registered. You should not trust in those websites or company who says that the registration is important for your pet.
Only a legitimate ESA letter from a qualified mental health practitioner, such as a psychologist, social worker, psychiatrist, licensed counselor or mental health nurse, qualifies a pet as an official ESA.

How Much Does it Cost to Register an Emotional Support Animal?

Your dog must have a letter from a qualified medical professional to be certified as ESA. The organization, however, decides how much it will cost to register your dog as an ESA. Some websites and companies charge between $100 and $150 to do the examination. A scam therapist who has the credentials to write an ESA letter should be avoided.

Difference Between ESA, Service Animals, and Therapy animals

Many people get confused between emotional support animals, service animals, and therapy animals. But the significant difference between all these animals is:

Emotional support animals are animals that provide assistance to their owners by being a source of their happiness, pleasure, and comfort. These animals are not trained specifically to perform tasks or duties for their owners. Emotional support animals can be any animal, as the main purpose of an ESA is to provide companionship to their owners. Emotional support animals are not allowed to enter public places, but as the ESA are protected by the Fair Housing Act, they have equal rights to live on any property of their choice.

Whereas a service animal is a trained animal that performs different tasks or duties for its owners. Only dogs can qualify to become service animals. But it’s important to choose the right type of breed for your mental health condition because not every dog is suitable for performing daily duties. Also, service dogs are allowed to accompany their owners in public locations like restaurants, theatre, grocery stores or malls etc, because they are given protection under the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Therapy animals are also called ‘comfort dogs,’ as the main focus of these dogs is to provide unconditional love to people living in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, retirement homes, and more. Like service dogs, therapy dogs are also trained to perform different tasks for their owners. Therapy dogs are not provided legal protection under the ADA, which does not allow them to visit public places with their owners.

For people with emotional or mental health issues, having an emotional support animal can do wonders. An ESA would help the individual to be calm and relaxed. Moreover, unconditional love and support from an ESA improves anxiety, alleviates loneliness, enhances social engagement, relieves pain, lowers stress, and boosts pleasure.
HUD states, “Emotional support animals by their very nature, and without training, may relieve depression and anxiety, and/or help reduce stress-induced pain in persons with certain medical conditions affected by stress.”

Mental health professionals noted that there are vast improvements in patients with the help of emotional support animals.

Emotional and Mental Health Benefits of Having an ESA

1. Mental and Emotional Inducement

Individuals suffering from Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Anxiety disorders, and depression have seen a drastic positive impact on their mental and emotional well-being with an emotional support animal.

2. Increased production of Neurotransmitters

Studies demonstrate having a pet, especially a dog, helps in the production of neurotransmitters in the body. Dogs help in increasing dopamine levels which is a neurochemical in the brain that is associated with bonding, love, and pleasure.

3. Unconditional Love

ESAs provide unconditional love, which can be very beneficial for people struggling with mental health decline or an illness like depression or grief. With this unconditional love, there can be a dramatic improvement in a person’s overall mental health.

4. Helps in Conjunction with Other Forms of Treatment

Emotional support animals are used in conjunction with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). They help with mindfulness techniques, like helping patients find a sense of purpose, encouraging them to spend more time outdoors (by walking or exercising), and helping individuals feel safe during highly stressful events.

5. Helps in Stabilizing Extreme Emotions

During tough times, these emotional support animals can be a stress buster and help to stabilize intense emotions, with which the individual can pass the harsh phases of life with ease.

Apart from providing us with a long list of benefits these little furry friends also enjoy certain legal privileges and protections under the Federal Laws. Let’s understand each of them.

ESA handlers enjoy the rights protected by federal laws under the FHA (Fair Housing Act) and ACAA (Air Carrier Access Act). The FHA provides the ESA access to the “No Pet” accommodations without any pet rent or deposit. As per the Fair Housing Act, landlords must accommodate residents with Emotional Support Animals. The FHA aims to eliminate discrimination among disabled individuals whose medical conditions require an ESA for treatment.
HUD guidelines state that the landlord must respond to an ESA application of a tenant within ten days. Moreover, the accommodation owners are not allowed to impose any restrictions on the breed, weight, and size of an ESA.
The federal law also protected the ESA rights for travel under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA). Under the ACAA the ESAs were allowed to fly with their handler without facing any discrimination. However, in 2021, the U.S. Department of Transportation revised ACAA regulations and gave the power into the hands of the airlines, with which only certain airlines now allow emotional support animals on planes. Nevertheless, to enjoy the rights offered by these federal laws, an individual must have a legal and legitimate ESA letter obtained from a licensed mental health professional.

Assessing Eligibility for an Emotional Support Animal

To legally acquire an emotional support animal (ESA) an individual needs to qualify for a mental health or psychiatric disability, diagnosed by a licensed mental health professional who can further write an ESA letter. This ESA letter is the only official document that legally legitimizes the ESA and gets them access to federal rights secured for ESAs.

Who can qualify for an ESA?

Here is a list of some mental health disorders that can qualify for an ESA.

  • Mood disorders
  • Learning disabilities
  • Substance use disorders
  • Cognitive disorders
  • Motor skill disorders

The FHA lists several mental health disorders that can be treated as a disability.

  • Major depressive disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • PTSD
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Schizophrenia

Moreover, some physical health issues may qualify as a disability.

  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

Who Can Issue an ESA Letter?

It is important to note that only a licensed mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or licensed therapist can write an ESA letter. Based on an individual’s emotional and mental health condition, these professionals evaluate their need for an Emotional Support Animal (ESA). Here is the list of professionals who can issue an ESA letter.

  • Therapists
  • Psychologists
  • Psychiatrists
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurses (PMHN)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW)
  • Licensed Professional Counselors

Therefore, it is crucial to consult a qualified professional to ensure the legality and validity of an ESA letter.

Obtaining an ESA Letter

Several organizations may sell ESA registration which concerns adding your ESA to a database, which usually delivers an ID card as proof of registration of the pet as an ESA alongside a unique ID for your emotional support dog. However, it is important to note that there is no official website for emotional support animal registration. Thus, ESA registration is a voluntary procedure and doesn’t give any additional legal privileges. However, the right way to register your ESA is to obtain an ESA letter which will help you get the benefit of all the legal rights that are protected for the ESA under the Federal Laws.
Let’s comprehend the step-by-step procedure for obtaining an ESA letter.

1. Consulting a licensed professional

To get an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) letter, the first step is to consult with a qualified and licensed mental health professional in your state. During the consultation, the individual must be honest regarding their mental and emotional condition as this would help the medical professional to understand their situation and decide if an ESA is suited for their mental well-being.
The process of getting an ESA letter begins with finding a reputable, qualified, and authorized mental health professional who can precisely evaluate the mental and emotional condition of the individual and provide the required documentation. At times it can be difficult to find an LMHP, which is why at Fast ESA Letter we become your ultimate guide in getting an ESA letter. By simply creating an account at Fast ESA Letter you get access to the top, qualified licensed medical health professional at the ease of your home.

2. Diagnosis of disorder

After you get access to the top, qualified, and authorized mental health professional, they will diagnose your condition and recommend an Emotional Support Animal if that is good for your mental well-being. Therefore, an individual must openly communicate their feelings and experiences so that the LMHP can correctly assess their need for an ESA. With Fast ESA Letter, this diagnosis can be easily done from the ease of home either by a video or an audio call depending on the comfort of the individual.

3. Receiving the letter

Once the consultation is done if the LMHP finds the need for ESA suitable for the mental well-being of the individual then the letter signed by the top licensed medical health professional is sent in the mail from where the individual can download it. However, the ESA letter must include the contact information, license number, and signature of the licensed mental health professional to validate its authenticity.
Therefore, for a stress-free living experience with your emotional support animal having an ESA letter is very important as it enables you to access housing rights under the Fair Housing Act.

3 steps process to get esa letter

Choosing the Right Emotional Support Animal

Emotional support animals (ESA) help people struggling with mental or emotional health conditions by providing them with relief, affection, and comfort. However, due to the lack of information regarding emotional support animals, individuals think that only dogs and cats can be regarded as an ESA. So let’s debunk this myth and explore what animals can be emotional support animals (ESAs), or can only a specific breed become an ESA? Let’s understand this.
An emotional support animal is an animal that provides companionship and comfort to individuals with emotional or mental health conditions. While dogs and cats are the most commonly chosen ESAs, it is important to note that any animal can become an ESA including dogs, cats, rabbits, mice, and even birds. Moreover, animals like guinea pigs, miniature pigs, and even horses can also become an ESA, depending upon the needs of the individual and legal regulations.
However, it is important to note that any domesticated animal can be considered an ESA. Yet, the ESA must be manageable in public and not create a nuisance.

Top 10 ESA Species Includes:

  • Dogs
  • Cats
  • Rabbits
  • Guinea Pigs (And Other Rodents)
  • Miniature Horses And Ponies
  • Parrots
  • Pigs And Miniature Pigs
  • Chickens
  • Sheep and Goats
  • Llamas and Alpacas

An individual must understand that an emotional support animal is not just a therapeutic tool, but also a pet. Therefore, it is important to choose an emotional support animal that matches your lifestyle as well as your emotional needs.

Here are some factors to consider while choosing an ESA breed.

Personality and Temperament of the ESA

Selecting the right breed of ESA can be a game changer, therefore an individual seeking an ESA should look for a breed that matches their requirements as each breed has different personality traits.

Energy levels of the ESA

Often an overlooked factor when choosing an ESA is looking at the energy levels of different breeds or species as certain breeds may require high energy for their daily mental and physical stimulation, while some may not. So, the individual must choose the breed according to their physical strengths and routine so that an ESA can easily be part of your life without any hassle.

Size of an ESA

Choosing an ESA based on their size is quite weird but it is very important especially when you are living in a rented accommodation as space can be an issue for some big-sized breeds. Moreover, overactive breeds may require more space. So it is important to understand that though an ESA is for the mental well-being of the individual, it is important to consider the needs of the ESA too for their well-being.

Maintenance of ESA

Among the factors you need to consider while choosing an ESA breed, maintenance of the ESA is an important one as several breeds may need much more maintenance than others. For example, animals with long hair need frequent brushing or grooming. Therefore, an individual should choose ESA wisely according to their budget and lifestyle.

Connection with the ESA

Last but not least, it is important to understand that every individual is different and so are their emotional needs, therefore while choosing an ESA breed rather than going for the best for everyone options, choose the one you feel connected to as at the end an ESA is all about your mental and emotional well being.

Understanding Legal Protections

There are several rights that the emotional support animals enjoy are protected under Federal laws. These laws offer ESA owners protection and help them to navigate through life with relief. Let’s understand the rights and protections granted to ESA owners.

Federal Fair Housing Amendments Act

The Federal Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA) states that no individual can be refused accommodation rights based on race, color, gender, or heritage. However, in 1988, the FHA was amended to incorporate individuals with disabilities. This means with proper documentation any disabled person cannot be denied housing due to their ESA.
Under FHA, all landlords and housing authorities have to allow you to live with your emotional support animal, irrespective of the pet policies. Moreover, the landlord can also not exempt an ESA based on breed, weight, or species provided they have a reasonable accommodation. Note that FHA does not cover any damage or trouble caused to fellow residents, as the handler is accountable for the dog’s care and behavior.

The Air Carrier Access Act

The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA)protected the ESA rights for travel by air. Under the ACAA the ESAs were allowed to travel with their handler without facing any discrimination. However, in 2021, the U.S. Department of Transportation revised ACAA regulations and gave the power of allowing an emotional support animal to fly into the hands of the airlines, with which only certain airlines now allow emotional support animals on planes. If the ESA is small enough, some airlines will permit the handler to bring it as a carry-on, however with limitations. Yet, service animals including psychiatric service dogs are still covered under ACAA, which means all the flights can accommodate the service animals and they are allowed to fly in the cabin with the handler.

Common misconceptions and myths about ESA registration

When it comes to emotional support animals registration then there are a lot of misconceptions that may arise. So let’s answer some of the common misconceptions and myths about ESA registration.

Is ESA registration legal?

An ESA registration has no legal value. The only way to legally legitimize the presence of the emotional support animal is an ESA letter which is the most essential document for an ESA if you want to enjoy the legal privilege of housing with your ESA.

Are ESAs registered in Government databases?

No, there is no national registry run by the government for ESA registration. This means for ESA registration you have to choose a private organization or company. However, it is a voluntary procedure but acquiring an ESA letter is mandatory for accessing the legal rights of ESA.

Does ESA require a Vest, Tag, and ID Card?

No, an ESA doesn’t require a Vest, Tag, and ID Cards as these only aid in the visual distinguishing of your companion animals from other pets, i.e. they do not serve as any certification. Companies offering ID Tags, Vests, or Badges as a certification or registration of an ESA may be a scam.

You Can’t Get the ESA Register Online.

You can register for your ESA online easily, however, you must choose a legitimate website or organization as several websites sell fake ESA letters. Therefore, the individual must do detailed research about the organization before registering with ESA online or if they want to skip all the tension of authenticity checking then they can simply use the Fast ESA letter which is the most reliable and trusted online platform for ESA registration online.

Only Certain Types of Dogs or Cats can be Registered as ESAs.

Any animal that is capable of providing therapeutic, mental, and emotional benefits to the individual qualifies for an emotional support animal, which is why registration of ESA is not restricted to dogs or cats. Fish, gerbils, birds, turtles, hens, pigs and many more can be registered as an ESA.

Emotional Support Animals need training for registration.

It is important to note that emotional support animals don’t need any training to be considered registered ESAs. All they need is a legitimate ESA letter obtained from a licensed mental health professional that will be enough to protect their rights.

Conclusion

Emotional support animals can be the guiding light in the life of an individual undergoing the phase of darkness. These little furry friends give their unconditional love and constant companionship to make your life take a turn into a completely new and positive side. Hence, it is important to legitimize the presence of ESAs with an ESA letter, which is the only legal document that protects the rights of the ESA. Therefore, an individual should be aware of all the legal privileges of ESA to foster a better environment for themselves and their little furry friends.

About the Author

Daulton Dougan
Daulton Dougan
Daulton Dougan is a behavioral expert and accomplished writer associated with Fast ESA Letter. With a deep understanding of human behavior and mental health, Daulton leverages his expertise to offer personalized support and guidance. Through his insightful writing, he educates and informs individuals about emotional support animal (ESA) benefits. Daulton's compassionate approach and extensive knowledge empower individuals to navigate emotional challenges effectively. With a commitment to improving mental well-being and advocating for ESA accessibility, Daulton's work and writing contribute significantly to the field of behavioral analysis and mental health support.

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Looking To Apply For An Emotional Support Animal Letter?

1. Create an account and schedule your appointment.

2. Join the video/audio call consultation with the doctor.

3. Get approved and receive your ESA Letter.

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