It was once rare to see emotional support animals out and about. But nowadays, they’re showing up everywhere, even in apartments with strict policies prohibiting pets. Unlike service animals, which are well trained to help blind people or to assist cerebral palsy patients to turn on lights, emotional support animals receive no special training for special tasks. The purpose of an emotional support animal is to enhance the owner’s wellbeing by simply being present.
There aren’t many rules governing emotional support animals and it’s difficult to determine how many there are because there is no official registry. To present a pet, such as a dog or a ferret, as an emotional support animal, you need only provide an emotional support animal (ESA) letter written by a licensed mental health practitioner as evidence of the psychological benefits of the presence of the pet. While emotional support animals at times appear in public places such as restaurants, unlike service dogs, they are limited to housing and travel only by the Fair Housing Act and the Air Carrier Access Act.
Even though the spirit of the law might have been aimed at allowing mental health professionals to better cater to the needs of their patients, it has opened up a market for a whole new business to thrive. Numerous online companies currently offer these official letters without having to meet you in person.
You simply need to fill out an open-ended questionnaire online, pay the company a fee and within a day, your pet could be joining you on a flight to your vacation destination, with no additional airline fees. These services grant an emotional support letter without meeting you in person. Therefore, it is quite easy for you to obtain one.
Online companies that provide the emotional support letter, list not having to pay a pet surcharge in your building or when flying as some of the top reasons for obtaining an emotional support animal prescription.
The process of getting an ESA letter online is easy. It requires no human interaction; you only need to take about thirty minutes to fill out a form on the website. Questions asked are usually open-ended and you’re provided with a lot of space to explain your mental health problems in detail. In case you’re not approved, the company refunds your fee.
After completing and submitting the form, a social worker or medical professional will get in touch with you either by call or via email to let you know if your letter has been approved. Well-established companies will have a polite and friendly attendant answer your questions and take care of your needs. Once approved, you receive your letter in your mail.
It is also important to note that some airlines, such as American Airlines and United Airlines, require additional forms by a mental health professional to go along with the emotional support animal letter. When it comes to people with disabilities, ESA letters have made it possible for them to lead a fairly normal life.