Frequently Asked Questions

Assessment

Will you approve more than two emotional support animals?

ESADoggy does not assess/approve more than two emotional support animals. Our decision is based upon the current environment — aka the peacock in the airplane.

To be recommended an three or more ESAs would likely require multiple sessions, whereby your therapist could, in face-to-face sessions, understand and develop your disability-related need for each assistance animal — this is a time-consuming endeavor that is outside of the cost and scope of our current product offerings.

How do I qualify for an emotional support animal?

According to HUD, to qualify for an ESA, an individual must be assessed for their “disability and disability-related need for an assistance animal.”

In this case, HUD defines disability as a “functional limitation.” That is, a significant impact on a major life activity.

Our protocol involves a rigorous online mental health assessment and a telephonic evaluation with a licensed mental health professional. The process to be assessed and qualified can be found here.

Fair Housing Act (FHAct) guideline

It’s all based around the HUD’s Fair Housing Act (FHAct) guideline, “Disability and disability related need for an assistance animal.”

In HUD’s vernacular, significant impacts on major life activities (sleep, concentration, focus, social interaction) are deemed disabilities. If an animal helps mitigate those symptoms (sleep better, etc.), if the animal is neccesary for treatment, then we have a winner!

Each assistance animal must help address a unique functional limitation. Each assistance animal must be neccessary for the treatment of a disability.

For example:

Valid:

On a regular basis (daily), John Doe suffers serious problems with sleep and social interaction.

Thankfully, Mr. Mittens (cat) helps John sleep thru the night and Molly (dog) goes with John to the pool as an “icebreaker.” Who doesn’t want to hug a lab, right?

Not Valid:

On a regular basis (daily), John Doe suffers serious problems with sleep.

John wants both of his cats approved. Since there’s only one disability, only one animal can be qualified.

Do I really need therapeutic sessions?

By itself, an emotional support animal assessment does not constitute a therapeutic relationship. By purchasing these sessions, you’ll discuss your “disability and disability-related need for an assistance animal,” while beginning to establish an ongoing therapeutic relationship with your therapist.

[Update May 2018: The number of calls we’ve received from individuals denied a reasonable accommodation has skyrocketed.]

Due to the practices of Internet ESA letter-mills, a rapidly growing number of housing providers are now demanding proof of a therapeutic relationship. Those clients who purchase an assessment only (with no sessions) run the risk a reasonable accommodation request will be denied.

Many landlords will gladly accept our ESA letter as is, without any need for verification, so our assessment-based document should work just fine for most situations.

However…

Pro-tip: If your housing provider requires verification, then you should strongly consider purchasing therapeutic care. If you’re unsure at the time of purchase, or your landlord springs it on you “after the fact,” then you can order these sessions at that time.

Note: If this comes as news to you, it’s because most Internet vendors do not have the national infrastructure in place to perform therapeutic sessions. They’re just geared to perform assessments only, with zero contact between client and therapist.

We do not offer any mental health advice on this site.

Content on this site is for reference purposes and is not intended to substitute for advice given by a physician, pharmacist, or other licensed health-care professional. You should not use this information as self-diagnosis or for treating a health problem or disease. Contact your health-care provider immediately if you suspect that you have a medical problem. ESADoggy assumes no liability for inaccuracies or misstatements about products.

What happens if we get a client who is underage filling out the form? Is there a screening tool to prevent this?

We have protocols in place regarding minors…

What’s the turn around to get my letter?

We conservatively quote five to 10 business days. However, we typically fulfill orders within four to five business days.

For an extra fee, our expedited delivery option means you can get an email copy within three business days.

About

Why do business with ESADoggy?

According to various Federal laws, social workers, therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, and MDs are allowed to write an ESA letter.

However…

Just because an individual is authorized to write a letter, doesn’t mean they’ll draft a letter that complies and comports with Federal Law. Most times, the letters we see from “out in the wild” are do not pass muster.

Writing an ESA letter takes knowledge and expertise that is often outside of a health care providers general knowledge. It’s a very specific document, not something one tosses together.

In today’s environment, thanks to the “peacock on the airplane,” housing providers are taking a much closer look at the contents of an ESA letter.

We have therapists across the US who have received our training … they’re up to speed on what it takes to write a “bullet-proof” ESA letter.
shortcuts

Ethics, ethos, and service dog fraud.

We’re huge on ethics and optics around here. We are continually asking ourselves … are we doing this correct, are we staying true to who we are — we want to do the right thing … true, that’s relative … but we’re continually asking and refining.

We also highly respect what therapists do… and the hard work it took to get where you are … and to protect our business, we protect our therapists… they’re out on the tip of the spear.

How are we different? That’s simple.

https://www.esadoggy.com/service-dog/
https://www.esadoggy.com/ethos/
https://www.esadoggy.com/ethics/

Within those pages, I hope you will come to learn we’re trying to rethink/redo the emotional support animal business.

The Chaz Stevens Way.

When I started this with Dr. Stacy, I realized very early on who I was serving, and when I reviewed the competition, I was aghast to discover rampant fraud, deception, and other ethically challenged agendas.

I made myself a pact … I will do it right, I will do it my way, or I won’t do it at all.

Don’t take that as me being holier than thou. Rest assured, I made/make lots of mistakes. But I make “honest” mistakes that I try to learn from.

To wit, when a wounded warrior shows up needing my help, there’s no way that I’d do anything but what is honorable to assist him/her.

Are your clinical staff members licensed mental health care professionals?

From coast to coast, we maintain a network of licensed mental health care professionals legally allowed to recommend emotional support animals.

Please review our coverage map.

Are you legitimate?

Absolutely.

ESADoggy adheres to the highest ethical and professional standards, including fair, truthful, and accurate advertising.

For more information about how we conduct ourselves, please visit:

Is there anything else I should be aware of before purchasing my ESA letter?

A quick search of the Internet reveals many options for ESA letters, and we highly recommend doing your homework before purchase. Only a licensed therapist can issue an ESA letter, so be sure to secure their credentials. Be forewarned; there are many illegitimate sites offering ESA letters.

Review our blacklist to see what’s what on the Internet.

HIPAA

What is HIPAA Compliance?

In 1996, HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) was created as an effort to protect patients’ healthcare information from data theft and unwanted disclosure.

All electronic communications with our clients is done via our secure HIPAA-compliant infrastructure.

Federal privacy guidelines require these discussions to remain strictly confidential. Your therapist will never share that information with anyone without your express, written consent.

Top 10 Most Common HIPAA Violations

1. Keeping Unsecured Records

As part of your employee training, all staff members should be required to keep documents with PHI in a secure location at all times. Physical files containing PHI should be locked in a desk, filing cabinet or office. Digital files should require secure passwords to access them, in addition to being encrypted whenever possible.

2. Unencrypted Data

The dangers of leaving PHI data vulnerable without encryption are simple. Encrypting the data is an added protection if a device containing PHI is lost or stolen. It offers an additional layer of security if a password protected device is somehow accessed, such as through hacking. Although it is not a strict HIPAA requirement, it is highly recommended. You should also be familiar with your State HIPAA regulations as many States have passed laws requiring ePHI and PII to be encrypted.

3. Hacking

Although we’d like to think it would never happen to us, hacking is a real threat to medical ePHI. There are people out there who want to use this information for malicious purposes, and therefore medical practices need to protect against hacking wherever possible.

Keeping antivirus software updated and active on all devices containing ePHI is a great place to start. Using firewalls adds another layer of protection as well. Finally, creating unique and difficult to remember passwords, and changing them frequently is another important measure to take to prevent hacking.

4. Loss or Theft of Devices

A case was settled in June of 2016, where an iPhone containing a vast amount of ePHI, including social security numbers, treatment and diagnosis information, medications, and more was stolen.

In addition, the iPhone was neither password protected nor encrypted, leaving all ePHI vulnerable to access by anyone possessing the phone.

The violation occurred at a facility called the Catholic Health Care Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia (CHCS). A combination of nursing home residents and family members totaling 412 people were affected by the data breach, and the facility was fined $650,000.

Unfortunately, if devices containing ePHI are not stored in a secure location at all times, they are subject to the possibility of loss or theft. If the information stored on such devices is not encrypted or password protected, the loss or theft of the device becomes an even more severe issue.

5. Lack of Employee Training

When it comes to training employees on HIPAA regulations and compliance, it’s important that every employee who comes in contact with PHI be thoroughly educated. Employee HIPAA training is more than a recommendation – it is a requirement of the HIPAA law. All staff members must be well-trained on the law, as well as on the particular policies and procedures set forth by your individual practice.

6. Gossiping / Sharing PHI

Although general gossip or chit chat by the water cooler can be harmless, PHI should always be off limits. When talking to co-workers, there is no reason to discuss PHI. Plus, it comes with a hefty fine.

Medical practice employees with access to patient PHI need to be careful about the information they share with others. When discussing PHI, should always be aware of who may be listening. Keep conversations about PHI behind closed doors, and only with appropriate office personnel.

7. Employee Dishonesty

Although not always done with a malicious purpose, when employees try to access PHI that they are not authorized to view, this is a HIPAA violation. Often it is merely out of curiosity, but the punishment is the same regardless of the intent. Thorough and precise training and procedures that outline who can access what, as well as a clear indication of the consequences that will result, can help prevent occurrences of this particular HIPAA violation.

8. Improper Disposal of Records

When training your staff members on HIPAA regulations, one of the most important procedures to enforce is proper disposal of PHI records. Staff members should understand that all information that contains PHI, such as social security numbers, medical procedures, diagnoses, etc., should be shredded, destroyed, wiped from the hard drive, etc.

If any of this information is left lying around in a trash can, in a computer’s recent files folder, etc., it could get into the hands of the wrong person, and this would be a serious HIPAA violation. You can prevent this from happening with proper employee training and enforcement by a compliance officer or other staff.

9. Unauthorized Release of Information

This violation most often occurs when members of the media release PHI regarding public figures and celebrities. It can also happen when medical personnel release PHI to family members that are unauthorized, as only dependents and those with a Power of Attorney are allowed access to the PHI of a family member.

10. 3rd Party Disclosure of PHI

When it comes to discussing PHI, it should only be discussed with the people who need to know, such as the patient, the doctor(s), and/or the person(s) billing for the procedure, medication, or other related service. If you have access to PHI and discuss it with those who do not have the right access to this information is a direct violation of HIPAA.

However, it does happen frequently. Again, by educating all staff members with access to PHI about HIPAA regulations such as this, you can eliminate the majority of data breaches caused by this violation.

Another example of 3rd party disclosure would be if a staff member were to release the wrong patient’s information due to human error. In this case, the act may be an accident, but the consequences would be similar to those for a purposeful violation.

What is PHI?

Protected health information (PHI) is any information in the medical record or designated record set that can be used to identify an individual and that was created, used, or disclosed in the course of providing a health care service such as diagnosis or treatment. HIPAA regulations allow researchers to access and use PHI when necessary to conduct research. However, HIPAA only affects research that uses, creates, or discloses PHI that will be entered in to the medical record or will be used for healthcare services, such as treatment, payment or operations.

For example, PHI is used in research studies involving review of existing medical records for research information, such as retrospective chart review. Also, studies that create new medical information because a health care service is being performed as part of research, such as diagnosing a health condition or a new drug or device for treating a health condition, create PHI that will be entered into the medical record. For example, sponsored clinical trails that submit data to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration involve PHI and are therefore subject to HIPAA regulations.

What is not PHI?

In contrast, some research studies use data that is person-identifiable because it includes personal identifiers such as name, address, but it is not considered to be PHI because the data are not associated with or derived from a healthcare service event (treatment, payment, operations, medical records) not entered into the medical records, nor will the subject/patient be informed of the results. Research health information that is kept only in the researcher’s records is not subject to HIPAA but is regulated by other human subjects protection regulations.

Examples of research health information not subject to HIPAA include such studies as the use of aggregate data, diagnostic tests that do not go into the medical record because they are part of a basic research study and the results will not be disclosed to the subject, and testing done without the PHI identifiers. Some genetic basic research can fall into this category such as the search for potential genetic markers, promoter control elements, and other exploratory genetic research. In contrast, genetic testing for a known disease that is considered to be part of diagnosis, treatment and health care would be considered to use PHI and therefore subject to HIPAA regulations.

Also note, health information by itself without the 18 identifiers is not considered to be PHI. For example, a dataset of vital signs by themselves do not constitute protected health information. However, if the vital signs dataset includes medical record numbers, then the entire dataset must be protected since it contains an identifier. PHI is anything that can be used to identify an individual such as private information, facial images, fingerprints, and voiceprints. These can be associated with medical records, biological specimens, biometrics, data sets, as well as direct identifiers of the research subjects in clinical trials.

HIPAA Security Rule

The HIPAA Security Rule requires appropriate Administrative, Physical, and Technical Safeguards to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and security of protected health information (PHI).

The Security Rule is made up of 3 parts.

  • Technical Safeguards
  • Physical Safeguards
  • Administrative Safeguards

All three parts include implementation specifications. Some implementation specifications are “required” and others are “addressable.” Required implementation specifications must be implemented. Addressable implementation specifications must be implemented if it is reasonable and appropriate to do so; your choice must be documented.

 

HIPAA Breach Notification Rule

The Breach Notification Rule requires most healthcare providers to notify patients when there is a breach of unsecured PHI. The Breach Notification Rule also requires the entities to promptly notify HHS if there is any breach of unsecured PHI, and notify the media and public if the breach affects more than 500 patients.

Learn more about the Breach Notification Rule.

HIPAA Privacy Rule

The HIPAA Privacy Rule establishes national standards to protect individuals’ medical records and other personal health information and applies to health plans, healthcare clearinghouses, and those health care providers that conduct certain health care transactions electronically. The Rule requires appropriate safeguards to protect the privacy of personal health information, and sets limits and conditions on the uses and disclosures that may be made of such information without patient authorization. The Rule also gives patients rights over their health information, including rights to examine and obtain a copy of their health records, and to request corrections.

Business Associates are directly liable for uses and disclosures of PHI that are not covered under their BAA or the HIPAA Privacy Rule itself.

The Privacy Rule requires Business Associates to do the following:

  • Do not allow any impermissible uses or disclosures of PHI.
  • Provide breach notification to the Covered Entity.
  • Provide either the individual or the Covered Entity access to PHI.
  • Disclose PHI to the Secretary of HHS, if compelled to do so.
  • Provide an accounting of disclosures.
  • Comply with the requirements of the HIPAA Security Rule.

HIPAA Administrative Safeguards

The Administrative Safeguards are a collection of policies and procedures that govern the conduct of the workforce, and the security measures put in place to protect ePHI.

The administrative components are really important when implementing a HIPAA compliance program; you are required to assign a privacy officer, complete a risk assessment annually, implement employee training, review policies and procedures, and execute Business Associate Agreements (BAAs) with all partners who handle protected health information (PHI).

There are nine standards under the Administrative Safeguards section.

  • Security Management Process
  • Assigned Security Responsibility
  • Workforce Security
  • Information Access Management
  • Security Awareness and Training
  • Security Incident Procedures
  • Contingency Plan
  • Evaluation
  • Business Associate Contracts and Other Arrangements

Reasonable Accommodation Forms

What is a Reasonable Accommodation Form?

Housing Providers are required to provide a reasonable accommodation in their rules, policies practices and procedures and allow reasonable modifications (changes to the physical structure) for qualified individuals (persons with disabilities) as defined by law.

When considering a reasonable accommodation/modification request a Housing Provider can only take the following into consideration: ™

Is the individual (or the intended tenants of the housing) which is the subject of the request, qualified? (Is the individual a person with a disability as defined by law or is the housing designed to serve persons who are disabled as defined by law?) ™

Is the request for a accommodation or modification necessary? (This is not determined by the Housing Provider but by the individual pr developer of the housing and confirmation can be requested to be provided by a medical health professional.) ™

Would the requested accommodation impose an undue financial or administrative burden? (For a modification this in only considered if the modification is to be paid for by the housing provider. Please consult HUD or DFEH to determine if the Housing Provider is required to pay for the modification.) ™

Would the requested accommodation or modification require a fundamental alteration in the nature of the program?

The Housing Provider should not ask about the nature or severity of the disability in question. The Housing Provider need only consider whether or not the request is ‘reasonable’ in terms of cost and alteration of their housing program. They may ask questions which will clarify what it is about the policy, practice or procedure that serves as a barrier (so that the housing provider may offer an alternative ‘solution’ if the requested accommodation is not ‘reasonable’.) They should not attempt to determine whether or not the request is necessary for the individual(s) in question. That is up to the individual and their advisors.

Who must comply with this requirement?

The requirement to provide reasonable accommodations applies to, but is not limited to individuals, corporations, associations and others involved in the provision of housing or residential lending, including property owners, housing managers, homeowners and condominium associations, lenders, real estate agents, and brokerage services. This also applies to state and local governments, most often in the context of exclusionary zoning or other land-use decisions

Who is a person with a disability?

The Fair Housing Act defines a person with a disability to include (1) individuals with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; (2) individuals who are regarded as having such an impairment; and (3) individuals with a record of such an impairment.

This may include, but is not limited to, such diseases and conditions as orthopedic, visual, speech and hearing impairments, cerebral palsy, autism, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Human Immunodeficiency Virus infection, mental illness, drug addiction (other than addiction caused by current, illegal use of a controlled substance) and alcoholism.

The term “major life activity” means those activities that are of central importance to daily life, such as seeing, hearing, walking, breathing, performing manual tasks, caring for one’s self, learning, and speaking.8 This list of major life activities is not exhaustive

When is a reasonable accommodation necessary?

A requested accommodation is necessary when there is an identifiable relationship, or nexus, between the requested accommodation and the individual’s disability. Some examples of Reasonable Accommodations are:

  • Assigned parking space for a person with a mobility impairment
  • Assigned lower mailbox for a person who uses a wheelchair
  • Permitting an assistance animal in a “no pets building for a person who is deaf, blind, has seizures, or has a mental disability

What is an assistance animal?

An assistance animal is not a pet. It is an animal that works, provides assistance, or performs tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability, or provides emotional support that alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person’s disability. Assistance animals perform many disability-related functions, including but not limited to, guiding individuals who are blind or have low vision, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to sounds, providing protection or rescue assistance, pulling a wheelchair, fetching items, alerting persons to impending seizures, or providing emotional support to persons with disabilities who have a disability-related need for such support.

For purposes of reasonable accommodation requests, neither the Fair Housing Act nor Section 504 requires an assistance animal to be individually trained or certified.5 While dogs are the most common type of assistance animal, other animals can also be assistance animals.

What information may a provider seek when a reasonable accommodation is requested?

A provider is entitled to obtain information that is necessary to evaluate if a requested reasonable accommodation may be necessary because of a disability. If a person’s disability is obvious, or otherwise known to the provider, and if the need for the requested accommodation is also readily apparent or known, then the provider may not request any additional information. 

If the disability and/or the disability-related reason for the requested accommodation is not known or obvious, the requesting individual, medical professional, a peer support group, a non-medical service agency, or a reliable third party who is in a position to know about the individual’s disability may also provide verification of a disability. In most cases, an individual’s medical records or detailed information about the nature of a person’s disability is not necessary for this inquiry. 

When may a housing provider refuse to provide a requested accommodation?

A housing provider can deny a request for a reasonable accommodation if the request was not made by or on behalf of a person with a disability or if there is no disability-related need for the accommodation. In addition, a request for a reasonable accommodation may be denied if providing the accommodation is not reasonable – i.e., if it would impose an undue financial and administrative burden on the housing provider or it would fundamentally alter the nature of the provider’s operations. The determination of undue financial and administrative burden must be made on a case-by-case basis involving various factors, such as the cost of the requested accommodation, the financial resources of the provider, the benefits that the accommodation would provide to the requester, and the availability of alternative accommodations that would effectively meet the requester’s disability-related needs.

When a housing provider refuses a requested accommodation because it is not reasonable, the provider should discuss with the requester whether there is an alternative accommodation that would effectively address the requester’s disability-related needs without a fundamental alteration to the provider’s operations and without imposing an undue financial and administrative burden.  These discussions often results in an effective accommodation for the requester that does not pose an undue financial and administrative burden for the provider.

What about charging fees to cover the cost of providing an accommodation?

Housing providers may not require persons with disabilities to pay extra fees or deposits as a condition of receiving a reasonable accommodation.

Can you notarize my letters and forms?

We are not lawyers, and the following should have not considered the legal advice.

As Federal Law does not require the signature on a reasonable accommodation form to be notarized, our therapists do not have the ability to notarize that document. Based on our understanding of Fair Housing Act requirements, the notarization is an “extra” hurdle that’s placed in front of an individual with a disability, and therefore not allowed.

My landlord wants my letter notarized.

According to Federal Law, there is no requirement for an emotional support animal letter of recommendation to be notarized.  In fact, this may be discriminatory, as it’s an impediment for a reasonable accommodation (aka a speed bump).

However, as we understand a client/tenant may be under duress to find housing, and not wanting to be an impediment, we offer letter notarization.

Please note this service is not available at all locations and may be subject to additional guidelines.

Order now.

Travel Form

Signed Confirmation of Training Form

Most air carriers have a somewhat amorphous policy that, in lieu of requiring physical documentation, suggests they will assess the animal’s behavior upon check-in to determine if your pet is well-trained enough to fly. This evaluation is vague and can vary not just from airline to airline, but from employee to employee. That said, Delta is now asking for a more concrete statement: a form that affirms your pet has been trained to behave in a public setting and takes direction upon command. (We’d like to see an emu roll over or play dead.) Though they don’t ask for an actual certificate or the name of a licensed trainer, the form does push you as a passenger to take on more personal responsibility. As with the Veterinary Health Form, all signs indicate United will soon follow with a similar procedure.

Veterinary Certification of Animal’s Health

In general, you should carry a copy of your animal’s most recent vaccination records with you at all times when traveling, as a precaution. Delta and United both require a licensed vet to fill out a Veterinary Health Form, where they provide their license and contact information, as well as the specific dates when your animal was given vaccinations for rabies and distemper.

Signed Medical or Mental Health Professional Document

This piece of documentation is the only one you’re required to obtain for all domestic air carriers. Delta, United, and American each provide a downloadable form to have completed by your medical doctor or mental health professional. Fields include proof of license, assurance that you have a psychological need for the animal, contact information, and a signature. JetBlue and Southwest ask for similar information submitted on an official letterhead. On April 19, Alaska Airlines implemented a new policy, saying passengers “must provide animal health and behavioral documents, as well as a signed document from a medical doctor or mental health professional, at least 48 hours in advance of departure” for all flights departing on or after May 1. United followed suit on March 1, and with American flights starting July 1, you’ll have to “contact the Special Assistance Desk with all required documentation at least 48 hours before your flight.”

My landlord wants my letter notarized.

According to Federal Law, there is no requirement for an emotional support animal letter of recommendation to be notarized.  In fact, this may be discriminatory, as it’s an impediment for a reasonable accommodation (aka a speed bump).

However, as we understand a client/tenant may be under duress to find housing, and not wanting to be an impediment, we offer letter notarization.

Please note this service is not available at all locations and may be subject to additional guidelines.

Order now.

Airline Travel Requirements

Air Canada

If you are travelling with a dog* as an emotional support or psychiatric service animal, you must advise Air Canada Reservations 48 hour in advance of travel, and provide supporting documentation in the form of an original letter on the letterhead of a licensed mental health professional (e.g. a psychologist, a psychiatrist, the general practitioner who is treating the passenger’s mental or emotional disability, or a licensed clinical social worker), dated within one year of your departure date.

The letter must confirm that:

  • You have a mental or emotional disability recognized by the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders);
  • You need your dog for emotional or psychiatric support during travel and/or at destination;
  • the person who prepared the document is a licensed mental health professional; and
  • You are currently under the care of the licensed mental health professional who prepared the document.

The letter must also provide information on the mental health professional’s license (i.e. type of license, date issued, and issuing authority).

*Air Canada does not accept animals other than dogs as emotional support or psychiatric service animals.

Air Canada

Alaska Airlines

Effective for tickets purchased on or after May 1, 2018: We are making changes to the requirements for traveling with an emotional support / psychiatric service animal.

Learn more.

Allegiant Air

You’re good to fly on this budget airline as long as the proper paperwork is filled out for your animal, and the passenger has a mental or emotional health-related disability from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-Fourth Edition (or DSM IV).

American Airlines

For tickets issued on or after July 1, 2018, emotional / psychiatric support animals must meet a set of enhanced requirements.

Emotional support animals provide emotional, psychiatric or cognitive support for individuals with disabilities. Specific disability training isn’t required for animals to meet this classification.

Advance notice required

To travel with an emotional support and psychiatric service animal in the cabin, you must contact the Special Assistance Desk with all required documentation at least 48 hours before your flight.

Documentation validation will include American Airlines contacting your mental health professional.

Visit AA.com to learn more.

Delta Airlines

We know that both types of animals provide invaluable services and we welcome both on our flights. To travel with an emotional support or psychiatric service animal, passengers must upload the required documentation at least 48 hours before a flight. For questions, call 404-209-3434. Advanced notice is encouraged but not required for customers traveling with trained service animals.

View Delta’s required documentation.

JetBlue Airways

For travel beginning July 1, 2018, regardless of purchase date of ticket, customers will be required to provide 48 hours’ notice of their intention to travel with an emotional support or psychiatric service animal.

The following documentation will be required and can be downloaded here.

  • Medical/Mental Health Professional’s Form
  • Veterinary Health Form
  • Confirmation of Animal Behavior

Upon completion of the documentation, you must submit the forms for review through this link at least 48 hours prior to departure. These documents need to be submitted for each reservation you’re traveling on; documents are not kept on file.

Please note: Required documentation for emotional support/psychiatric service animals must always accompany the animal when traveling and is to be presented upon request to JetBlue personnel for review.

The behavior of the animal will be assessed at the airport to ensure safety requirements are met before approving the animal for travel.

To learn more about JetBlue’s ESA guidelines, click here.

Southwest Airlines

To learn more about Southwest’s guidelines for emotional support animals, please click here.

Spirit Airlines

To learn more about Spirit Airlines’ ESA guidelines, click here.

United Airlines

Beginning March 1, 2018, United will require additional documentation for customers traveling with emotional support animal or a psychiatric service animal. In addition to providing a letter from a licensed medical/mental health professional, customers will need to provide a veterinary health form documenting the health and vaccination records for the animal as well as confirming that the animal has been trained to behave properly in a public setting.

This change only applies to emotional support and psychiatric service animals.

Learn more here.

International Air Travel Requirements

WestJet Airlines

We require the following three forms be printed, completed, and emailed to SpecialCareDesk@westjet.comno later than 48 hours before you leave. The forms must be dated no more than one year before travel and kept with you while travelling:

  1. Confirmation of animal training – to be signed by the owner/trainer of the animal.
  2. Medical/mental health professional – to include your medical professional’s licence number, type of licence, and jurisdiction in which the licence was issued. Must be signed by your medical professional (e.g. psychiatrist, psychologist, or licenced clinical social worker).
  3. Veterinary health – to be signed by the animal’s veterinarian.

Our Special Care Desk agents will review your documents for authenticity and send an email to the address provided confirming or denying your animal as an emotional support animal.

WestJet may deny application forms which appear to be questionable.

If your journey includes more than one airline, it is your responsibility to contact each airline to determine their acceptance guidelines for emotional support animals.

We strongly recommend that your emotional support animal wear its identification (e.g. vest) at all times while on the aircraft, however, WestJet does not require identification in order to accept your animal for travel. We suggest that you travel with identification as some agencies (the airport authority, transfer companies, etc.) may require it.

If you are having trouble reading the forms in PDF, please click here.

WestJet

Can your therapists sign a Medical Information Form (MEDIF)?

No, absolutely categorically not.

You may be asked for proof of your “fitness to fly” when requesting assistance. If you have a stable condition, there is generally no need to be cleared for travel.

There are usually two parts to the medical clearance process:

  1. You will be asked to provide information about your situation or condition and, for many passengers, this will be all you will need to complete.
  2. If the airline has concerns about how flying might impact your particular condition, it will ask you to complete a further form.

You may also be asked to provide medical proof at this stage, often a doctor’s note.

The ESADoggy Protocol does not allow any of our therapists to sign off on this form.

Air Canada

The Canadian airline will allow emotional support dogs, but no other animals are allowed to serve as a comfort animal. The same procedures are required as most other airlines, such as forms verifying emotional or mental need for the support dog.

Air France-KLM

The transport of assistance dogs in the cabin is free of charge and must respect the same conditions as those for guide dogs:

  • It must comply with all sanitary/hygiene requirements in the departure, arrival and connection countries.
  • It must be identifiable by a dog tag or harness. You must be able to provide proof (along with credible verbal proof) of the animal’s certification and its use.
  • It may travel without a muzzle.
  • It must remain leashed at all times.
  • It cannot obstruct the aisles inside the aircraft.
  • It must be well-behaved in all circumstances.
  • You will be offered a seat with the most space possible, but your dog may not occupy a seat and is forbidden from occupying the space near the emergency exits.

To transport an emotional support animal (ESA) in the aircraft cabin, you must provide a medical certificate that is less than a year old. This certificate must be provided by a mental health specialist (psychologist, psychiatrist…) and testify that you have regular check-ups and need to be with your dog at all times.
On flights longer than 8 hours, we may ask you to demonstrate that you are prepared to handle your dog’s hygienic needs (primarily the natural need to relieve itself).

Air France

Air Nippon Airways

Customers who accompany Psychiatric/Emotional Support Dog must provide current documentation (ie. No older than one year from the date of the passengers scheduled initial flight) on the practice letterhead of a licensed mental health professional including medical doctor specifically treating passenger’s mental or emotional disorder (eg. psychiatrist, psychologist, licensed clinical social worker) stating the following.

  1. The passenger has a mental or emotional disability recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental Disorders –  Fourth or Fifth edition(DSM-Ⅳ or Ⅴ),
  2. The passenger needs emotional or psychiatric service dog as an accommodation for air travel and/or for activity at the passenger’s destination,
  3. The individual providing assessment is a professional mental health professional, and the passenger is under his/her professional care, and
  4. The date and the type of mental health professional’s license and the state or other jurisdiction in which it was issued,

Air Nippon

Lufthansa

Transporting an emotional support dog (Emotional Support Animals – ESAN) in the cabin is free of charge on non-stop flights operated by Lufthansa from and to the USA.

On all other routes, including connecting flights to/from the USA, there are no special conditions for emotional support dogs. On these routes, the dog will only be transported for a fee and in a transport container appropriate for its size and weight that you must bring with you. If possible, the dog will be transported either as additional carry-on baggage in the cabin or as excess baggage in the cargo hold.

Requirements for registering emotional support dogs on USA flights:

1. A medical certificate that confirms the need for you to be accompanied by this kind of dog.

2. The dog must be registered and confirmed for the flight no later than 48 hours before departure. There are three ways to register your emotional support dog:

a) An email to the Lufthansa Medical Operation Centre
An email to the Lufthansa Medical Operation Centre in the USA
b) 
Via the Lufthansa Service Center
c) Through your travel agency

You will receive confirmation from the Lufthansa Medical Operation Centre once this has been checked.

3. Confirmation that the dog fulfills the requirements for traveling as an emotional support dog. For this purpose, please present two copies of this fully completed and signed form at check-in.

Lufthansa.com

Phillipine Airlines

Emotional support dogs will be allowed only for flights to and from the United States.

NOTE: Philippine Airlines does not accept any other service or emotional support animal except for dogs. Passengers must provide Philippine Airlines an advance notice of at least 48 hours prior to flight departure.

Documentation requirements for emotional support dogs

  1. Dogs used for a passenger’s emotional support are accepted in the cabin. In order for a passenger to travel with an emotional support dog, the passenger must provide to current documentation (not more than one year old) on letterhead from a mental health professional or medical doctor who is treating the passenger’s mental health-related disability stating:
  2. The Passenger has a mental or emotional disability recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – Fourth Edition (DSM IV)
  3. The Passenger needs the emotional support of psychiatric service animal as an accommodation for air travel and/or for activity at the passenger’s destination
  4. The individual providing the assessment is a licensed mental health professional or medical doctor, and the Passenger is under his or her professional care AND the date and type of mental health professional’s or medical doctor’s license and the state or other jurisdiction in which it was issued

Turkish Airlines

Passengers who need to travel with an assistance dog for physical or psychological reasons must provide a medical report stating this requirement. Passengers who need to travel with an assistance dog must receive reservation approval at least 48 hours before their flight. Your assistance dog, which will be transported free of charge, should be kept on a leash and remain at your feet throughout the journey.

Turkish Airlines

WOW Air

Emotional support dogs can fly, but only on flights booked through the Iceland-based airline’s U.S. website. For those traveling to the UK, your support pet is not allowed.

Business

Can I use a business PayPal account to get paid by your organization?

Makes no difference to us. We make a payment to an “email” that’s hooked to a PayPal account — we can’t tell the difference between business and personal PP accounts.

As I understand it, the big difference for a “business PayPal amount” is any fund balance can be automatically swept into your checking account. If that’s not needed, then you don’t need a business account.

That being said, I am not offering accounting advice and for the record, we use a business account.

Do you take insurance?

We’re a strictly cash only operation, so no need for medicaid or insurance. Our pricing is based on offering premium services (it’s wicked expensive around here) … that being said, we’re going to see if we can figure out a pro-bono deal, without getting nuked by the coupon cutters.

How does the pay compare to the industry?

We’re trying to pay out on a average $50-65/hr …. that’s nearly double what BetterHelp’s doing …

If you’re in private practice, that number might be low … but it’s tough to fit in someone making good bank in private practice, put our costs and modest profit margin on top, and still have it at “internet pricing.”

Chaz

Your name sounds familiar? Do I know you?

Once, back in the day, I put up a Festivus Pole made out of beer can in the Florida State Capitol building. That made me sort of famous for a few minutes.

What’s important to you?

Around here, we’re really big on ethics and optics. We are constantly asking ourselves… are we doing this correct, are we staying true to who we are … we really really want to do the right thing … true, that’s relative … but we’re constantly asking and refining.

We also highly respect what therapists do… and the hard work it took to get where you are … and to protect our business, we protect our therapists… they’re out on the tip of the spear.

What’s your gameplan for the company?

Our gameplan is to (a) make something we can be proud about, (b) help those in need, (c) make a few dollars.

In that order.

We’re also going for a  “moonshot.”  We really admire the BetterHelp.com idea, and we’d like to borrow and improve on it.

Pet Loss Grief Counseling

My beloved pet just died.

The bond we form with our pets is unique and personal and so is the grief we feel when they die. All of us experience and cope with loss just a little differently.

We can experience a wide range of emotional and physical states: shock, sorrow, anger, fatigue, guilt, insomnia, loss of appetite, and loneliness. Others may feel simply empty. All of these things are normal. What’s important is that you allow yourself to grieve as much or as little as you need and for as long as you need.

Talk with others. Share your precious memories. Seek support from family, friends, and caring people. Finally, the day will come when thoughts of your beloved pet will only bring you smiles.

When hope is not enough.

Although our hope would be for our animal companions to live a long, healthy life and die curled up in a peaceful sleep, illness or injury may instead cut short the time you always expected to have together. Often we are faced with the heartbreaking decision of choosing the time, place, and method of our pet’s death when it becomes clear that they are suffering or when other needs predominate. Choosing to end the life of your pet can be one of the most difficult things you will ever have to do. Thinking about saying goodbye and the subsequent loss is sometimes so painful that you are unable to make any decision at all.

You don’t have to figure it all out on your own. Get help from your veterinarian, pet loss counselors, and others who have gone through similar experiences. There are no right answers: just do what feels right for you.

Treatment options for grief and loss.

Our clinicians are trauma-certified and versed in many types of trauma-related therapeutic approaches.  We approach grief and loss trauma treatment with compassionate caring; never minimizing or judging your experiences.

Interpersonal therapy (IPT)

Interpersonal therapy focuses on relationships with others and re-establishing normal roles in life.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)

Through CBT, we help you challenge and replace negative thought patterns with more adaptive ways of coping.

Dialectic behavior therapy (DBT)

DBT integrates treatments from behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and cognitive-behavioral therapy to validate your experiences, stabilize your emotions, and cope with stress.

Intensive family therapy

We recognize families and loved ones are crucial in supporting you as you adjust to your loss and plan for the future. Family members often need to process their own loss-related emotions and may need to grieve.

 

How do I tell my children?

Children grieve very differently than adults. A child’s perception of death varies as a function of age, level of maturity, and personal experience. Understanding the level of emotional and cognitive development that your child possesses will better enable you to explain what it means when a pet dies or leaves home for whatever reason. Using statements such as “put to sleep” or “passed on” have very different meanings for children and we suggest that you avoid these confusing euphemisms.

To help your child understand the permanence of death and the grief involved with the loss, keep the following suggestions in mind:

  • Always be honest with your child.
  • Encourage your child to talk about his/her feelings.
  • Allow yourself to be honest with your own feelings.
  • Alert your child’s teacher or daycare provider as to the recent family sadness.
  • Read a book with your child that addresses pet loss.
  • Allow your child to grieve with the family. Show them, by example, that it is appropriate to be sad and cry.
  • Emphasize the fact that nobody is to blame for the death/loss of your pet. Children tend to think in concrete terms and often wonder if they are somehow responsible.
  • If possible, give children an opportunity to say goodbye. This will allow for a sense of closure.

Do animals grieve?

We may never know if animals feel the loss of other animals the same way we do. However, it is clear by their actions that they do respond to the absence of their companions.

You may see changes in their eating and sleeping habits, they might appear depressed, or may constantly search for their missing friend. Many will need time and extra attention from loving owners to adjust to their new life.

While we may not know the depth of their grief, we can help them get through the experience as they also help us.

Are there any Internet support groups?

Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement
Pet bereavement counselors, virtual condolence cards, counselors at law for pet-related matters, In Memoriam list, bereavement for service dogs, local meetings, and more

Animal Love & Loss Network
Counselors, local support groups, list of books, memorials, postings for missing pets

Petloss.com
The Rainbow Bridge story; Monday Pet Loss Candle Ceremony; message board, chat room; add pet’s name to list for tributes; poetry and music in memory of pets

Rainbows Bridge Grief Support Center
One-on-one online grief counseling, memorials, Monday Night Candle Ceremony

In Memory of Pets
Submit a tribute, candlelight ceremony, share your pet’s family story, photo gallery

Lightning Strike Pet-Loss Support Page
The name comes from the hope that the page will provide lightning-fast help for the griever

House Rabbit Society’s Pet Loss Support and Grief page

What about Internet chat rooms?

VSW

What is Veterinary Social Work?

The term “veterinary social work” was coined in 2002 at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville by Elizabeth Strand, PhD, to describe services provided by social workers to the university’s Veterinary Medical Center, such as grief counseling for humans facing the loss of companion animals, and counseling, communication coaching, and conflict management services for veterinary professionals overburdened by the stresses and sadness that characterize their daily responsibilities.

A pioneer in the emerging field who helped define the specialty, Strand is the founding director of veterinary social work at the Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Tennessee which, in a partnership with the university’s College of Social Work, launched a certificate program for MSW students in 2010. The four core areas of study are the link between human and animal violence, grief and loss, animal-assisted interactions, and compassion fatigue management.

Among the ways in which students put their skills to work in the field include advocating for safe havens for pets in abusive homes, developing pet loss bereavement programs, designing animal-assisted interaction programs, and helping veterinarians manage compassion fatigue. Because of the life span of the animals they treat, veterinarians experience death at a rate five times that of physicians for humans.

from Social Work Today

Animal

Do I need to register my emotional support animal?

There is NO REGISTRATION for either a service animal or an ESA. That’s all nonsense — sold by Internet vendors looking to take advantage of those in need.

Does my emotional support animal need to be spayed or neutered?

No, there are no requirements for an emotional support dog to be spayed or neutered.

Does an emotional support animal (ESA) require to wear any identifying clothes or a harness?

Federal law does not require Service Dogs or Emotional Support Animals to wear any type of clothing or harnesses. However, we strongly encourage this since harnesses, leashes, patches and identifying items cut down on the hassles and unnecessary explanations when in public. We have found that these products drastically save time and frustration.

Does my ESA need a vest?

A person who is assisted by an emotional support animal must have a correctly formatted letter from a licensed mental health professional. That’s all. The ESA letter must state that the animal’s handler has an emotional or psychological disability identified in the DSM V and that the animal helps mitigate specific symptoms of the handler’s disability. The letter is all that is required.

To reiterate, however, an ESA vest made of a brightly-colored fabric, such as red or orange will help identify your pet as an emotional support animal.

It is NOT required.

Do emotional support animals need special training similar to a service dog?

Emotional support animals do not require specialized training. However, they do require a therapist letter in order to be considered valid. Service Dogs require specialized training because they perform a specific task for their owner such as acting as a seeing eye dog or calming someone down who has PTSD.

What animals will you qualify?

ESADoggy makes no designation or recommendation as to the specific animal an individual can or should have as their emotional support animal, no representation as to a particular animal’s fitness to function as an emotional support animal, and assumes no liability for the actions of the emotional support animal or its handler under any circumstance.

That being said, we will only consider dogs and cats.

What about my ESA goat?

We only recommend dogs and cats as emotional support animals.

Can you answer questions about Service Animals?

We’re in the emotional support animal business, and given this, we cannot offer advice or support regarding service animals.

Information regarding service animals can be found here and here.

Can I get three assistance animals?

ESADoggy does not assess/approve more than two emotional support animals. Our decision is based upon the current environment — aka the peacock in the airplane.

To be recommended an three or more ESAs would likely require multiple sessions, whereby your therapist could, in face-to-face sessions, understand and develop your disability-related need for each assistance animal — this is a time-consuming endeavor that is outside of the cost and scope of our current product offerings.

Do you inform clients about an ESA’s rights?

As previously mentioned, we try to educate our clients/potential clients regarding the legal rights on an ESA. All too common though, folks try to extend the rules, make an ESA into a service animal.

We don’t perpetuate that silliness, but we can’t stop individuals.

On a side note, we’re pertpetually “mystery shopped” by service animal activists who want to see if we’re bending the rules.

Who provides the animals?

Some clients come with animals … some get to go to the pound/rescue, etc.

That’s really not “my worry,” as I’m not in the animal biz per se.  We’re in the mental health field.

Can I have more than one Emotional Support Animal?

Maybe. That’s up to the discretion of the therapist prescribing your letter. Handled on a case-by-case basis, there needs to be a valid reason to recommend multiple ESAs.

Each emotional support animal must ameliorate a symptom associated with a mental disability.

Does my animal need any specific training?

The short answer is no.

There are no unique training requirements for an ESA, however, it’s important for your animal to be well-behaved. You will be held responsible for any property damage or harm to others.

What is the difference between a service animal and an ESA?

There are three general categories of animals who may be considered under these regulations:

Emotional support animals: These animals are not always explicitly trained, but serve as a comfort to individuals with a documented mental health condition. There is no restriction for the breed of emotional support animals because all domesticated animals can serve as ESAs.

An ESA is not like a Service Animal. SAs have access into the public space. An ESA only penetrates no-pets-allowed housing and on airline flights. A Service Animal performs a task, is often highly trained and penetrates the public space.

Therapy animals: These animals are usually evaluated and registered by an agency and provide emotional support to individuals who need them. They are often used in hospitals, nursing homes and in school reading programs such as Reading Educational Assistance Dogs.

Service animals: These animals have been specially trained to perform tasks their owner can’t do on his or her own. Guide dogs for the blind are perhaps the most well known in this category. Service animals are not required by law to wear vests or have any form of identification.

Eighteen states, including Virginia, Colorado and California, have laws that criminalize fraudulent representation of a service animal. These violations are usually misdemeanors, but repeated violations can result in jail time. West Virginia is not one of the 18 states, however, businesses could pursue a trespassing charge if a second incident occurs. Play it safe with an ESA!

Orders

Do you accept medical insurance?

Unfortunately, due to the problematic nature of being reimbursed by insurance companies for emotional support animal exams, we regret that we are not able to accept medical insurance at this time. In light of this, we have tried our best to make the approval protocol as accessible and as affordable as possible.

What forms of payment do you accept?

We accept the following payment types: PayPal, Discover, Visa, MasterCard, and American Express.

How long does it take?

Typically, this entire process takes four to five business days to complete. With our expedited service, we typically fulfill your order within three business days (not counting weekends, and holidays).

Five to ten days? Why does it take so long?

We’re connecting you with an actual practicing licensed mental health care professional. Sometimes, it takes time for you to get on their schedule.

Ever try to see your family doctor the same afternoon?

If you’re looking for an instant letter, make sure to review our blacklist!

Cancellation and Refund Policy

Click here for more information about our cancellation and refund policy.

What is your cancellation and refund policy?

Please review our cancellation and refund policy to learn more.

If I pay for a treatment recommendation letter for an ESA, am I guaranteed to qualify for it?

Ordering our services does not guarantee you’ll be qualified as disabled.

There really isn’t anything typical when it comes to the emotional/psychological status of a person; every person’s situation, ability to cope, and life experience is different. In addition, to qualify, a licensed therapist must assess your disability and disability-related need for an assistance animal.

Housing Letter

I need a reasonable accommodation form.

Many landlords require tenants to submit a “reasonable accommodation form.” Each form is unique — some are simple affairs, others not so. Often, we encounter questions that, in our opinion, are likely discriminatory.

A correctly answered reasonable accommodation form is essential. Recognizing this, we retain a fair housing law expert to process these documents.

You can order our reasonable accommodation form service here.

Can my landlord refuse my reasonable accommodation request?

Only in certain circumstances. If the animal’s accommodation could mean additional administrative costs and other adjustments that would affect housing arrangements, then the landlord might refuse your request. For instance, the animal is disruptive or poses a threat to the health, safety, and property of the other tenants. Make sure to train your ESA so they are not unruly and you are always in control.

ESADoggy also accepts no responsibility and makes no guaranty regarding the approval or denial of specific privileges or access in regards to any emotional service animal. Submission of payment and your assessment constitutes acceptance of these and all terms set forth herein.

What is ESAGuard?

With ESAGuard, if you’re ever denied a reasonable accommodation using our products, we’ll immediately refund all of your money. Certain restrictions apply. In particular, you must have purchased and completed therapeutic sessions (see above).

[Not all letters are created equal — visit our bad letter library and see for yourself.]

Can you speak to my landlord?

Housing providers are now, more often, demanding the existence of a therapeutic relationship — in particular, landlords will question when therapy began and number of sessions completed / scheduled. This is the current method (spring 2018) being retained to weed out Internet letter-mill documents.

If you purchase an assessment, choose not to engage in any follow-up sessions, and want us to speak with your landlord, you assume all risk and liability if your reasonable accommodation request is denied.

Before our team can communicate (talk, answer questions via email) with your landlord, you must purchase this option and a signed HIPAA waiver must be in place. This waiver allows us to discuss your protected health information (PHI) with a third party.

Are your letters legit?

Our letters are contain every element required by law and are fully compatible with the latest Federal and air carrier guidelines.

Can you notarize my letters and forms?

We are not lawyers, and the following should have not considered the legal advice.

As Federal Law does not require the signature on a reasonable accommodation form to be notarized, our therapists do not have the ability to notarize that document. Based on our understanding of Fair Housing Act requirements, the notarization is an “extra” hurdle that’s placed in front of an individual with a disability, and therefore not allowed.

Will my contact information be included in the letters I would fill out?

Your licensure is listed on all letters.

My landlord wants my letter notarized.

According to Federal Law, there is no requirement for an emotional support animal letter of recommendation to be notarized.  In fact, this may be discriminatory, as it’s an impediment for a reasonable accommodation (aka a speed bump).

However, as we understand a client/tenant may be under duress to find housing, and not wanting to be an impediment, we offer letter notarization.

Please note this service is not available at all locations and may be subject to additional guidelines.

Order now.

Do you guarantee all domestic airlines and property managers will accept your treatment recommendation letter?

No, unfortunately not.

The Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 requires property managers and landlords to make a reasonable accommodation (a change in the rules) to permit an emotionally disabled handler to keep an emotional support animal (ESA). That doesn’t mean they won’t inadvertently or intentionally break the law and deny a disabled person the right to have an ESA, however.

Similarly, the Air Carrier Access Act 49 U.S.C. 41705 and Dept of Transportation 14 C.F.R. Part 382 requires airlines to allow a disabled person to be accompanied by their ESA in the cabin of the aircraft and not be charged a fee. Airline companies are allowed to require the disabled passenger to present a treatment recommendation letter from a licensed mental health professional to bring the ESA on board. Several airline companies have been sued and forced to change their practices over the years for arbitrarily electing to discriminate against disabled passengers.

Any company who makes an arbitrary decision without foundation and approval from the U.S. Justice Department is in violation of federal law, and we cannot guarantee that any public entity, airline company, or property manager will not willfully or inadvertently break federal law as it regards emotional support animals. Everyone knows that it is illegal to steal a car, but the car thief will continue stealing until he is caught and prosecuted.

Is your ESA letter acceptable to my landlord?

Thanks to the Federal Fair Housing Act, with few exceptions, any person recommended for an ESA letter must be offered reasonable accommodations. Our ESA letter will allow you to bypass size/size restrictions, and avoid additional pet security deposits. However, you are still responsible for your pet’s behavior; the ESA letter will not absolve you from any damages caused by your animal.

What’s the duration of my ESA Letter?

They’re good for one calendar year. Annual updates are provided at a discount rate.

Legal

What are HUD guidelines for an emotional support animal?

HUD’s guideline to qualify for an emotional support animal is an individual must have a “disability and disability-related need for an assistance animal.” HUD defines a disability as a significant impact on a major life activity. For example, an individual has issues sleeping or social interaction and an ESA would help mitigate those symptoms.

For instance, John Doe has an emotional disability that causes him to have significant issues with sleep or social interaction. The therapist would pinpoint those functional limitations, and would decide if an ESA would help improve the symptoms — aka would a doggy help John Doe sleep thru the night.

What about my protected health information?

We are committed to the full protection and confidentiality of all patient information in compliance with Federal Laws. Pursuant to CFR §164.506 airlines are only permitted to verify the authenticity of your recommendation, however, we are not permitted to reveal any other personal information without your express consent. Additionally, we do not collect personal credit information such as social security numbers or driver’s license numbers.

Do you report the findings of my assessment to any other agencies or entities?

No. We never report any client information to outside agencies or entities unless the client expressly provides a written HIPAA waiver.

Is it legal to assess a patient over the internet?

Yes – our services are completely legal and ethically acceptable in the USA. It is becoming increasingly common for therapists to perform therapy over the telephone.

Does my pet get entered into a government registry?

That’s a red-flag, as there’s no govermental registry for ESAs.

What laws protect me?

Emotional Support Animals are protected under the Air Carrier Access Act, Fair Housing Act, and the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).

Travel Letter

Can I bring my ESA to hotels?

The law does not require hotels, restaurants, trains, and buses to accept emotional support animals on their premises but you could call them ahead of your trip and ask about their policy.

Some establishments are open to receiving emotional support animals at their discretion.

I’m Canadian, can I get an ESA travel letter?

Yes, but please note the housing and airline ESA letters are written per US federal laws (FHA and ACAA). We cannot make any assurances that they would work for airline travel or housing in Canada.

Tell me about those signed airline forms.

If you’re traveling on the following airlines (see below), mental health care providers must now certify (a) they’re currently treating the passenger’s emotional disability and (b) the passenger is under their current and ongoing professional care.

And, depending on the airline, a specific signed form may also be required.

  • American Airlines
  • Delta Air Lines
  • Southwest Airlines
  • United Airlines
  • Alaska Airlines
  • JetBlue Airways
  • Spirit Airlines

What is ESAGuard?

With ESAGuard, if you’re ever denied a reasonable accommodation using our products, we’ll immediately refund all of your money. Certain restrictions apply. In particular, you must have purchased and completed therapeutic sessions (see above).

[Not all letters are created equal — visit our bad letter library and see for yourself.]

Are your letters legit?

Our letters are contain every element required by law and are fully compatible with the latest Federal and air carrier guidelines.

Can you notarize my letters and forms?

We are not lawyers, and the following should have not considered the legal advice.

As Federal Law does not require the signature on a reasonable accommodation form to be notarized, our therapists do not have the ability to notarize that document. Based on our understanding of Fair Housing Act requirements, the notarization is an “extra” hurdle that’s placed in front of an individual with a disability, and therefore not allowed.

Can your therapists sign a Medical Information Form (MEDIF)?

No, absolutely categorically not.

You may be asked for proof of your “fitness to fly” when requesting assistance. If you have a stable condition, there is generally no need to be cleared for travel.

There are usually two parts to the medical clearance process:

  1. You will be asked to provide information about your situation or condition and, for many passengers, this will be all you will need to complete.
  2. If the airline has concerns about how flying might impact your particular condition, it will ask you to complete a further form.

You may also be asked to provide medical proof at this stage, often a doctor’s note.

The ESADoggy Protocol does not allow any of our therapists to sign off on this form.

Are airlines enforcing stricter criteria for ESAs?

Airlines are now requiring passengers to be under the therapist’s care and treatment. That immediately rules out “assessments only.” Clients purchasing our travel letters and need a signed airline travel form are required to purchase a 30-minute session … in that session, a therapist will delve into the reason why the client/passenger needs the animal’s assistance. In that limited session, the therapist is not trying to solve the passenger’s trouble with Mom, their struggle with substance abuse, etc. Our protocol is to stay on the task at hand, and that’s focusing on the necessity of the assistance animal.

Airline verification, which has been increasing, requires the client/passenger to provide written HIPAA-waiver allowing our therapist to discuss PHI with a third-party.

Will my contact information be included in the letters I would fill out?

Your licensure is listed on all letters.

Can two dogs travel with me?

Maybe.

Although we can’t guarantee that all airlines will allow two or more ESAs per handler without exception, it is common practice for them to allow two small animals to fly in the cabin of the aircraft with their disabled handler. It’s a good idea to consult with the airline you’ll be using to let them know you’ll be traveling with two ESAs and want to make sure there will be no problems.

That being said, because of the “peacock on the airplane,” airlines are much more stringent.

And so are we.

Do you guarantee all domestic airlines and property managers will accept your treatment recommendation letter?

No, unfortunately not.

The Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 requires property managers and landlords to make a reasonable accommodation (a change in the rules) to permit an emotionally disabled handler to keep an emotional support animal (ESA). That doesn’t mean they won’t inadvertently or intentionally break the law and deny a disabled person the right to have an ESA, however.

Similarly, the Air Carrier Access Act 49 U.S.C. 41705 and Dept of Transportation 14 C.F.R. Part 382 requires airlines to allow a disabled person to be accompanied by their ESA in the cabin of the aircraft and not be charged a fee. Airline companies are allowed to require the disabled passenger to present a treatment recommendation letter from a licensed mental health professional to bring the ESA on board. Several airline companies have been sued and forced to change their practices over the years for arbitrarily electing to discriminate against disabled passengers.

Any company who makes an arbitrary decision without foundation and approval from the U.S. Justice Department is in violation of federal law, and we cannot guarantee that any public entity, airline company, or property manager will not willfully or inadvertently break federal law as it regards emotional support animals. Everyone knows that it is illegal to steal a car, but the car thief will continue stealing until he is caught and prosecuted.

If the airlines or property manager calls your office to verify the letter and confirm that the therapist is appropriately licensed, do you answer those calls?

No.

Unless there’s a signed HIPAA waiver allowing discussions with a third-party, we’ll never share your information with anyone.

What’s the duration of my ESA Letter?

They’re good for one calendar year. Annual updates are provided at a discount rate.

Will your ESA letter allow my animal to fly with me?

Traveling with your ESA is one of the greatest benefits of our ESA letter; however, there are a few things to keep in mind. Your pet must be well-behaved and not be unruly. We recommend calling your airline before takeoff and let them know an ESA will be accompanying you.