Emotional Support Animal Letters For Chickens: Expert Advice on the ESA Chicken Challenge

This is not a legal service. We are not lawyers, but we offer education, consulting, and documents that meet the requirements of the law regarding emotional support animals. We cannot and will not provide legal advice. We recommend that you always consult with a licensed attorney.

Awareness about the role of emotional support animals is growing, awakening to something we’ve known around here for years: A furry companion can be wickedly helpful for one’s emotional well-being.

Does my furry friend always have to be furry?

For many, the emotional support comes from a dog or cat. In theory, though, it could be any animal. Let’s not discriminate against ferrets, snakes, alligators, horses … or even pot-bellied pigs.

Heck, how about an emotional support chicken? Or, in the case of a client of ours, how about six ESA chickens?

According to Psychology Today:

They [chickens] can make good therapy pets for people who live with a backyard because they cost much less than dogs. Care-taking is good for you when it’s not overwhelming, and a chicken can provide an “un-anxious example of how to live without worry.

What makes a good emotional support chicken?

The Silkie chicken breed tends to be calm, not easily startled, and enjoy interacting with people. Small, very fuzzy, and soft, Silkies cannot fly due to the lack of flight feathers. Bred and raised to be pets, their temperament is more friendly than other barnyard breeds.

Now the downside:

Unfortunately, getting your chicken moved into your studio apartment isn’t like qualifying for a typical ESA accommodation. Sure, an emotional support animal letter is needed, but there’s a lot more legwork that goes into getting a non-dog/cat approved by your landlord or the airline. We know, as we’ve run afoul (pun!) on getting a chicken (or six, in one case of ours) approved.

In fact, we’d recommend if your ESA is of a more exotic species than the four-legged, furry variety, perhaps the last thing you want to do is go ahead and secure an “ESA letter” readily found on the web. Getting Mr. Foghorn Leghorn and his family to pass muster with the rule-makers and enforcers takes experience, expertise, and planning.

And that knowledge is likely only found in one place.

Here, at ESAD.

So, if you’re ready to pull the trigger, take a moment and ask yourself this: Is that firm you found on the Internet really pushing for you to get an emotional support animal letter? Does the therapist have any direct experience getting a chicken approved as an ESA?

Pro-tip: We do (and it wasn’t easy)! Our team helped a client get six chickens approved to live in rental housing as ESAs. It was so much more than our bulletproof ESA letter.

Other critters

From $499

So, if you're looking for expert help qualifying your exotic emotional support animal, you've come to the right place.

For chickens, pigs, ponies, alligators, and the such.

The ESA chicken challenge

A few of the issues you’re likely to confront include:

  • Zoning for farm animals.
  • Odor and noise complaints from neighbors.
  • Health issues, including disposal of waste and concern about spreading disease.
  • Potential to attract rats and vermin.
  • Justifying more than one.

Potbellied pigs

Pigs are incredibly intelligent and sensitive animals which can make them candidates for ESAs. They’re far cleaner than dogs and also don’t shed as much. So, can a potbellied pig be considered an emotional support animal?

Er, maybe.

It all comes down to explaining why a client needs a pig, and not a “traditional” animal species. Unfortunately, thanks to those folks who try to skirt local animal ordinances, a pig may not be considered a “reasonable” accommodation. Pigs are generally considered livestock and are often denied accommodation as an ESA.

Says HUD, “[u]nder the FHAct, an individual with a disability may have the right to have an animal other than a dog in his or her home if the animal qualifies as a ‘reasonable accommodation’ that is necessary to afford the individual equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling, assuming that the animal does not pose a direct threat.”

Here are some objections you might encounter trying to qualify a potbellied pig as an ESA:

  • Zoning for farm animal applied to exclude pig.
  • Concern about health of other residents especially if pig is at the pool area, club house or other commonly used areas.
  • Justifying pig vs. dog or cat.
  • Concerns about size and safety of the animal.
  • Apprehension about damage hooves could present to property.

Ferrets

Easy-going, highly social, and easily transportable, ferrets make great emotional support animals since they enjoy burrowing close to their owners. Not bad, ferrets.

Here are some objections you might encounter trying to qualify a ferret as an ESA:

  • Misunderstanding what it is.
  • Concern about size and safety of the animal.
  • May stimulate odor complaints.

Miniature pony

Many people who are blind use miniature horses as their guides instead of dogs. Naturally cautious, mild-mannered, and sharp-eyed, miniature horses can live for up to 30 years. That’s a heck of a lot longer than your average dog.

Here are some objections you might encounter trying to qualify a miniature pony as an ESA:

  • The size of the animal may arouse skepticism that the unit/dwelling/property is large enough to handle it without damage.
  • Accommodating would impose an undue financial and administrative burden on the housing provider or would require the fundamental alteration of the provider’s operations.
  • Apprehension about potential damage.

Other critters

From $499

So, if you're looking for expert help qualifying your exotic emotional support animal, you've come to the right place.

For chickens, pigs, ponies, alligators, and the such.

Alligator/snake

Last, but not least let’s consider alligators and snakes.

Most people don’t think of reptiles that can kill humans as particularly snuggly or calming, but a Pennsylvania man is changing that perception.

Joie Henney of Strinestown, Pennsylvania keeps a 4-foot, 6-inch alligator named Wally as an emotional support and brings him to schools and senior centers to entertain and comfort kids and the elderly.

Here are some objections you might encounter trying to qualify an alligator or a snake as an ESA:

  • Typically presents a safety issue
  • No history to support need for these types of animals
  • Potential new diseases not found in dogs, cats or birds and not as easily dealt with.
  • Skepticism as to whether alligators and snakes provide emotional support.

So, why should you choose ESAD?

ESAD’s consulting services provide an important role in achieving fair housing goals. Our mission is to improve compliance with fair housing law and expand access to equal housing opportunities.

We know the fair housing complaint process better than anyone available on the market today. Through our initiatives, members of our team have:

  • Successfully filed hundreds of fair housing complaints, compelling settlements resulting in millions of dollars of damages.
  • With near-perfect success, our fair housing complaint strategy has resulted in millions of dollars in damages and additional costs for the properties to absorb.

Your boutique problem requires a boutique agency

If you’re trying to figure out how to qualify those nine chickens, your Vietnamese pot-bellied pig, or any of the above, you’re going to need a well-thought-out game plan.

At this point, you likely don’t need an emotional support animal letter. Oh, no doubt, you’ll likely need a perfectly written emotional support animal letter, but that’s probably down the road. In the meantime, you’d be best to avoid purchasing “fake paperwork” and bogus IDs from those widely pervasive scam registry sites.

Pro-tip: We’ve got great success with Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs – they’re clean and better behaved than most dogs.

When facing a Sisyphean task, don’t make the boulder any bigger.

That doesn’t mean we can’t help you, though.

Right now, you’d probably benefit from an experienced team of ESA experts who can provide guidance, education, and direction. You need someone who’s been there before, who’s been successful with these outlying cases, who are experts in a rather esoteric field.

It’s not as simple as I have “a chicken.”  Is that a single chicken or eight? Do you live in a studio apartment or maybe on a house with an acre of land? It’s a house, for sure, but is it within an HOA or privately owned?

So, you’ve determined you need some helpful advice, but where do you turn to?

The Advice Only Consultation (AOC)

AOC arose from discussions with clients who needed our expert assistance. So, for just $399 (was $499), you’ll spend an hour on the phone with our team who will review your situation, documents, and make specific recommendations.

Topics include:

  • Vetting your situation
  • Anticipating the housing provider challenges to your exotic animal accommodation request
  • Helping you prepare responses, defenses, paperwork, documents, and narrative
  • Providing a success forecast, gauging the reasonability of your accommodation request

You’ll also received an action summary report that can be used to develop a finely-tuned emotional support animal letter.

For details about our Advice Only Consultation, please click here.

This is not a legal service. We are not lawyers, but we offer education, consulting, and documents that meet the requirements of the law regarding emotional support animals. We cannot and will not provide legal advice. We recommend that you always consult with a licensed attorney.