Emotional Support Animal (ESA)
Many people are interested in getting their pet the designation of emotional support animal or ESA. This is something I’ve helped many clients accomplish. The ESA status is relatively new and unregulated with some confusion. There are some basic facts clients need to consider before starting the process.
First, the client (you) needs to meet the criteria for a diagnosable (DSM-V, IDC-10) mental health issue. As a licensed counselor, I can diagnose mental health problems. Second, a measurable connection has to be shown as to how the animal helps reduce the client’s mental health symptoms.
Another area of confusion is regarding the animal’s access. An ESA is different from a service animal. A service animal has all access to public facilities and private businesses with the disabled individual. Support animals do not. Technically, ESAs only have access to accompany the client on air travel and allow the client an exemption from increased rent charges for having the animal in their rental housing. The current environment we see with animals everywhere is due to a cultural lack of understanding of the rules for these animals.
Here are the legal accommodations for emotional service animals:
– Air Carrier Access Act (49 U.S.C. 41705 and 14 C.F.R. 382)
– Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Housing Act and the
Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
The process would require a 1-hour session. You would leave with a signed letter for one or both accommodations if you meet the mental health criteria. The cost is $150 for the hour session. This is not covered by insurance.