Do you want your pet to travel with you in the cabin of an airplane rather than as cargo? Register your pet now as an emotional support animal (ESA). Here are some guidelines you may want to know.
Animals are not only invaluable companions, but can also help people in special circumstances, such as service dogs for those with physical disabilities and emotional support animals for mental/emotional disabilities. Most people prefer to have emotional support animals, especially dogs and cats, because an ESA, unlike service dogs, does not require special training. Besides, ESAs play an important role in alleviating the emotions of the owner such as anxiety, depression or other mental illnesses. The most common and popular type of ESA is the emotional support dog. There are legal protections that allow them to stay in homes where pets are not allowed or on flights. However, most public places prohibit access to ESAs, in contrast to service dogs, which are not denied access.
If you are considering registering your dog/animal as ESA, you should know there is no official registry yet. Every dog breed is allowed to register.
The first step is to get an ESA letter from a licensed therapist. An ESA letter is documentation and proof of emotional disabilities and a required paper for ESA registration. If you are working with a therapist specialising in animal therapy who knows the ESA requirements, we recommend that you ask him/her to write an ESA letter. If he/she can not confirm the format or does not know the ESA guidelines, you can seek assistance from us and we will contact our therapist.
The purpose of the ESA letter is to show that your dog/animal provides you with the support you need to live a normal life. The letter must contain the following information:
• Your name
• Disability description
• The most important activity you can not do without your pet because of your disability.
• Letterhead and signature of the therapist
• Valid date: no later than one year since approval for an ESA
The second step is to find a reliable website or organisation that can issue an ESA certification upon receipt of the ESA letter. (Some websites can directly issue the ESA certification without the ESA letter, and you could skip step 1) The following information must be provided for this purpose:
• Your name
• The name of your dog/animal
• A photo of your dog/animal
• The breed of the animal
The third and last step
You receive an ESA certification in digital format online or in card format offline via express delivery. Then you should select a suitable vest (printed with ‘Emotional Support Animal’) and put the certificate in the vest or digitally download it to your mobile phone before traveling with your pet.
ESAs are protected under the Fair Housing Act. An ESA for housing means you are legally allowed to live in no-pets-allowed accommodations with no added fees or deposits. These furry support systems give you a reason to get out of bed each morning and provide comfort when needed most.
When traveling, ESAs must follow the pet policy since 2021. As you may have already heard, the Department of Transportation issued a new ruling that allows airlines to ban emotional support animals. The ruling has been published as of December 10, 2020 and went into effect on January 11th, 2021. Now, the airlines have the ability to decide their own policy regarding emotional support animals. This doesn't necessarily mean your ESA will not be able to fly, but that they will only be recognized as a pet and will have to follow the airline's pet policy.
If you plan to train your ESA to a Psychiatric Service Dog, you can fly with protection! Traveling with a Psychiatric Service Dog means you are federally protected under the Department of Transportation and the Americans with Disabilities Act. No pet fees, no separation on flights. But before you travel with your PSD, it’s important you have trained your psychiatric service dog!