therapy animals comfort those in nursing homes and hospitals

What is the Americans with Disabilities Act?

What is an Emotional Support Animal?

Frequently Asked Questions


As of January 11, 2021, the U.S. Department of Transportation permits each individual airline to determine its policies and regulations when it comes to the allowance of ESAs onboard flights. Some airlines still permit animals to fly with their owners but may now require the payment of a pet travel fee. Those traveling with an ESA should contact their air carrier of choice ahead of time to confirm its policies and restrictions when it comes to ESAs.

Just like any other service animal, psychiatric service dogs receive extensive training to perform tasks that assist their handler and are commonly prescribed to those living with post traumatic stress, anxiety, and other types of emotional disabilities. Because being separated from their psychiatric service dog substantially limits an individual’s ability to thrive as much as possible, psychiatric service dogs are also entitled to the same privileges and rights as any other type of service dog. Some of the most common dog breeds used for psychiatric service include Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, and German Shepherds.

Typically, the process of getting an emotional support animal letter from one of these telehealth platforms will begin with an online questionnaire. The online questionnaire serves as a pre-screening to determine if an individual qualifies for an emotional support dog or cat (although other domestic animals like rabbits are also a common option).

An ESA letter is an official document signed by a licensed mental health professional. An ESA letter can also be prescribed by other health professionals who have familiarity with an individual’s medical condition or a person’s disability, such as a general practitioner or a psychiatrist.

The Air Carrier Access Act went into effect in 1986 and prohibits discrimination in air travel on the basis of a person’s disability. This law requires air carriers to accommodate the needs of passengers with disabilities, including the accommodation of service animals. Because of the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), service animals are permitted to ride in the airline cabin with their handler (provided the animal is not too large or too heavy) and a person with disabilities cannot be charged a pet fee when traveling with their service animal. This law applies to all flights of U.S. airlines as well as flights to or from the United States by foreign airlines. 99


As of January 11, 2021, the U.S. Department of Transportation allows each individual airline to determine its own policies and regulations when it comes to emotional support animals.

Essentially, an ESA letter takes the form of a prescription. It recommends the use of an emotional support animal as part of a person’s treatment plan when it comes to managing their mental health. This means that the mental health professional believes their client can benefit from the therapeutic relationship and emotional comfort that emotional support animals provide.

For those who may not already have access to a mental health professional or physician, telehealth can help make the process of getting an emotional support dog easy. Telehealth platforms such as CertaPet improve access to mental health care, with a focus on providing services to individuals who are seeking animal assisted interventions as part of their treatment plan. certapet process

What is the Fair Housing Act?

the fair housing act

Do emotional support animals have a size limit?

This law extends to public access rights (meaning service animals can accompany their owner in public places such as restaurants, malls, local government agencies, and stores where animals are not normally allowed) and educational facility access rights (meaning service animals are permitted to accompany their owners into schools, colleges, and universities).

How to Qualify for an ESA Letter / Emotional Support Animal

  • No monthly pet fees.

For a psychiatric service dog, this document will take the form of a Psychiatric Service Dog Letter, also called a Psychiatric Service Dog Travel Letter. For emotional support animals, this document is commonly referred to as an ESA Letter, or more specifically, an ESA Travel Letter. The allowance of emotional support animals onboard flights varies from airline to airline, however, so travelers should always contact an airline in advance to confirm any policies or restrictions when it comes to emotional support dogs and other types of assistance animals. Travelers may also opt to book their flight with an ESA-friendly airline to better suit their travel needs.

Therapy Animals aren’t entitled to special rights the way emotional support animals or service animals are, but they still provide an incredible service to those on the receiving end of their attention. Therapy animals are commonly found in hospitals and nursing homes and their task is simple: to comfort people. Therapy animals can also be found on-site after major tragedies or natural disasters to offer emotional support to those in need.

These days, the internet is rife with scams when it comes to fraudulent ESA websites and fake ESA letters. As a result, it’s absolutely essential for those in genuine need of an emotional support animal to understand what a legitimate ESA letter contains as to avoid getting scammed by services that don’t comply with federal and state regulations. Only a legitimate ESA letter is recognized under federal law, and only a legitimate ESA letter entitles an individual to certain rights when it comes to reasonable accommodation from housing providers while also permitting an individual to travel with their animal on ESA-friendly airlines.

Airlines may, however, request specific documentation and/or 48-hour advanced notice if a service dog is boarding a flight, such as an official document from a licensed mental health professional confirming an individual’s mental or emotional disability and their need for their assistance animal. legitimate emotional support animal registration

Individuals can easily find a comfort animal through local animal shelters or rescue groups. Most of these organizations will allow a person to interact with their dog or cat of choice pre-adoption to ensure there’s a connection between the two, allowing individuals to select an animal that will provide emotional support and the much-needed comfort they’re seeking.

The Fair Housing Act applies to both emotional support animals and service animals. It was signed into law in 1968 and protects people from discrimination during housing-related activities such as renting when it comes to race, religion, or disability. The Fair Housing Act ensures that an individual with a mental illness or mental disability does not experience housing discrimination because of their need for an emotional support animal or service animal. Housing providers must instead provide reasonable accommodations for these individuals and are not allowed to charge the individual any type of fee, such as pet deposits.

The Americans with Disabilities Act became law in 1990 and prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. This protection extends to all areas of public life, including employment, education, transportation, and public accommodations. For instance, The United States Department of Transportation ensures that transit agencies comply with the ADA to make public transit vehicles and facilities accessible to those with disabilities, and the U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) also enforces the ADA by prohibiting employers from discriminating against qualified individuals on the basis of a disability.

  • No pet deposits.

It’s important to note that an ESA letter does not designate a companion animal as a service animal. Emotional support animals and service animals both provide assistance to their handlers, but they hold different designations under federal regulations and are entitled to different kinds of rights. service dogs can accompany their handlers in grocery stores

An individual does not need to register with any ‘national databases’ or ‘registry sites’ to prove their animal is an ESA. While many fraudulent sites claim that an ESA will need a registration number to validate its status, this isn’t in any way the case and is simply the rhetoric of typical ESA scams. All that’s required to confirm that an animal is an ESA is a legitimate ESA letter signed by a professional licensed in mental health.

Licensed mental health professionals recommend selecting a domestic animal as a person’s ESA, as this makes it easier to enjoy the animal’s constant companionship when it comes to housing and travel situations.

Because service dogs provide assistance for major life activities such as getting around throughout the day, opening doors, turning on lights, setting off alarms, and in some cases alerting a person to potentially-deadly blood sugar levels, they’re entitled to the broadest possible range of privileges and rights under federal law.

An individual can have more than one ESA if their health professional agrees that more than one animal can help to promote their well-being and that each animal will play a role in the person’s treatment plan. An individual ESA letter will be needed for each animal.

What makes a legitimate ESA letter?

It’s helpful to understand the difference between service animals and emotional support animals when it comes to important issues such as the basic requirements of their training regimen, the functions they must perform to uphold their designation as an assistance animal, and how an individual can qualify for one or the other.

Are ESAs allowed in all public places?


The Fair Housing Act ensures that an individual with a mental illness or mental disability does not experience housing discrimination because of their need for an ESA. Housing providers must allow ESAs to live with their owners, regardless of any no-pets policy in place. They are also prohibited from charging pet-related deposits or fees for the ESA.

ESAs are commonly prescribed to those living with mental disabilities or emotional conditions such as anxiety, depression, PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), and other types of mental disorders which can be found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, a handbook published by the American Psychiatric Association and used by mental health professionals all over the world to establish reliable diagnoses.

There are no restrictions when it comes to an ESA’s species, breed, size, or weight. However, some ESA-friendly airlines may have certain restrictions in place when it comes to a dog’s breed. Other airlines may not allow certain species (such as exotic animals) onboard flights.

Emotional Support Animals, also called ESAs or comfort animals, are companion animals that offer comfort and support to those living with emotional disabilities such as anxiety, depression, social phobias, and other mental health disabilities. how to get an emotional support animal

Can I bring my emotional support animal on flights?

service animals have federally protected rights

Are Emotional Support Animals Allowed on Flights?

  • No pet deposits or monthly fees for housing.

When a mental health professional has determined that a person can benefit from the companionship of a support animal, they will issue that individual an ESA letter. A legitimate ESA letter will be printed on the licensed professional’s letterhead and include their licensing information in addition to being signed and dated by the prescribing professional. The ESA letter will clearly establish that the patient in question has a confirmed disability and that an emotional support animal provides them with needed support.

As previously mentioned, comfort animals like emotional support dogs are commonly prescribed to those living with mental disabilities or emotional conditions such as anxiety, depression, PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), and other types of mental disorders. A person’s disability must be one that’s found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, also known as the DSM. Mental health professionals all over the world commonly refer to this handbook to establish reliable diagnoses.

A specific task may entail a psychiatric service dog providing deep pressure therapy to help their handler through a panic attack. Psychiatric service dogs may also help with assistive actions such as waking up their handler from a night terror or guiding their handler to a safe space during an anxiety episode. The U.S. Department of Justice also offers the example of a psychiatric service dog reminding their handler to take their medication, which is considered a ‘Medical Reminder’ task.

The most common type of emotional support animal is an emotional support dog, and there are many popular dog breeds commonly used for their natural talent for providing emotional comfort, but there are no federal regulations stating that only dogs are permitted to provide this service. Emotional support animals can also include cats, rabbits, and other types of pets. The animal simply needs to be able to provide emotional support to an individual in order to be recognized as an ESA.

There may, however, be restrictions in place in terms of an animal’s weight, size, or breed, so ESA owners should always contact their airline of choice ahead of time for more information about the air carrier’s policies. Those with concerns can also opt to travel with one of several ESA-friendly airlines that still permit emotional support animals onboard flights. These airlines will require proper documentation (in the form of an ESA letter) in order to confirm that the animal’s presence is required to help with emotional conditions or a mental disability.

Psychiatric Service Dogs are another type of service animal. A psychiatric service dog is a type of service dog that has been individually trained to perform tasks that help with the emotional issues of a person’s disability.

When it comes to service animals, the Americans with Disabilities Act is the most important piece of legislation to be familiar with. This piece of legislation states that “Under the ADA, state and local governments, businesses, and nonprofit organizations that serve the public generally must allow service animals to accompany people with disabilities in all areas of the facility where the public is allowed to go.”

How to Get an Emotional Support Animal

ESAs are not entitled to the same public access rights as a service dog and are therefore not always allowed in all public places. A legitimate ESA letter entitles ESA owners to reasonable accommodation when it comes to housing and can also allow the individual to travel with their animal on ESA-friendly airlines. However, ESAs may not be allowed in certain establishments such as restaurants or hotels unless such businesses are already pet-friendly.

Service Animal and Emotional Support Animal Laws

If at any time, an airline staff member is violating a disabled person’s rights under the ACAA, that individual has the right to speak with a Complaints Resolution Official (CRO). The U.S. Department of Transportation advises that “A CRO is the airline’s expert on disability accommodation issues. Airlines are required to make one available…at no cost, in person at the airport or by telephone during the times they are operating.”

  • All benefits of Housing and Travel Letters combined.

Just like with the ADA, there are local government agencies and other federal departments that work to ensure fair and equal housing opportunity for all, such as The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which provides comprehensive resources on tenant rights, laws, and protections.

A pet that an individual already owns can serve as their ESA if the animal is one that already provides emotional comfort and support. For those who don’t already have pets, there are no restrictions as to an ESA’s species, breed, size, or weight, which makes it easier for individuals to select the perfect comfort animal for their unique needs.

Is a Registry Site or Emotional Support Animal Vest Required?

what types of animals can be comfort animals

  • Letter for air travel.

However, many ESA owners still choose to outfit their animal in special vests or harnesses that clearly distinguish the animal from an ordinary pet. An ESA ID card is also a common item these individuals make it a point to have on hand. These items help communicate that a comfort animal is ‘on duty’ and therefore shouldn’t be disturbed. These items also help communicate to personnel such as a landlord or an airline staff member that the animal provides needed assistance that supports certain disabilities.

An emotional support animal aka esa dog is a type of assistance animal that helps mitigate the symptoms of mental or emotional disabilities such as depression, anxiety, and post traumatic stress. Such assistance animals are typically prescribed by a licensed mental health professional as part of an individual’s treatment plan. The prescription takes the form of an official document called an emotional support animal letter, also known as an ESA Letter. This document confirms that an individual has a legitimate need for the support that their companion animal provides and entitles them to certain rights under federal law.

There are all kinds of assistance animals in the world today that provide a great service to those who rely on their support.

To qualify for a comfort animal, therefore, a licensed mental health professional must first determine that an individual has a mental disability or mental illness as classified by the DSM. Apart from mental health professionals such as psychologists and licensed counselors, this determination can also be made by an individual’s general practitioner.

  • ESA flies in cabin, size permitting.*

ESAs aren’t individually trained to perform tasks the way service animals are. As a result, their rights are limited when it comes to certain types of public access and, in some cases, air travel.

What is the Air Carrier Access Act?


are emotional support animals allowed on flights

Those with emotional support animals will need to present their landlord with an ESA housing letter to demonstrate their need for the animal’s support. This is why it’s essential to seek out a legitimate ESA letter, as only a legitimate ESA letter is recognized under law. Legitimate ESA letters must be signed and dated by a licensed mental health professional, must include the professional’s licensing information, and must be printed on the practitioner’s professional letterhead.

While airlines such as Delta, United, and Air Canada no longer recognize emotional support animals as a type of assistance animal, these air carriers may still permit individuals to travel with their comfort animal as long as the individual pays a pet fee, the way pet owners typically do when traveling with a companion animal.

What is an ESA Letter For?

Ready to Get Started?

  • Letter for housing complex.

In addition to the Americans with Disabilities Act, there are two federal statutes that those with service animals and emotional support animals should be familiar with.

What if my landlord doesn’t allow pets?

Emotional support dogs are the most common type of comfort animal. This is because emotional support dogs tend to be easy to train and because dogs in general are typically allowed in a greater variety of places such as dog-friendly public parks and other dog-friendly locations. However, cats and rabbits can also be ESAs, as can miniature horses.

Emotional Support Animals vs. Service Animals

Service dogs are commonly trained to perform a specific task or a set of tasks. A seeing-eye dog, for instance, helps a visually impaired individual or fully blind person navigate life in a safe manner that gives them their independence back. Other types of service dogs include diabetic alert dogs, hearing dogs, and mobility assistance dogs, among many others. MOST POPULAR!

A legitimate ESA letter will always be printed on the licensed professional’s letterhead and include their licensing information in addition to being signed and dated by the prescribing professional. The ESA letter will clearly establish that the patient in question has a confirmed disability and that an emotional support animal provides them with needed support. Instance 1

  • No airline fees for flying with your ESA.*

What Types of Pets Can Be an Emotional Support Animal?

A legitimate ESA letter should be printed on the licensed professional’s letterhead and include their licensing information in addition to being signed and dated by the prescribing professional. The ESA letter will clearly establish that the patient in question has a confirmed disability and that an ESA provides them with needed support.

Service Animals, on the other hand, receive extensive training (and often highly specialized training) in order to provide assistance to their handlers. The most common types of service animals are service dogs.

Another important distinction between service animals and emotional support animals are the rights and privileges each is entitled to under federal regulations.

The ESA letter entitles its holder to reasonable accommodation when it comes to housing (meaning an individual cannot be charged a pet fee or pet deposit for having an ESA, nor can they be denied housing in a no-pets property). This reasonable accommodation is made possible because of the Fair Housing Act. An ESA letter also provides the proper documentation required when traveling with an airline that permits emotional support dogs and other types of ESAs onboard flights.

Exotic animals such as sugar gliders, snakes, and certain types of amphibians, birds, and insects can also be designated as an ESA. However, an exotic animal may not be entitled to the same reasonable accommodation as domestic animals. For instance, airlines that allow ESAs typically only permit dogs or cats onboard, as some animals (especially untrained ones) can pose a risk to public health. For these reasons, mental health professionals will typically recommend that an individual select a domestic animal as their ESA. * Check your airline’s policies based on changes made by the U.S. Department of Transportation as of January 11, 2021. comfort animals are commonly prescribed to those with a mental illness

The online questionnaire takes only minutes to complete, and if the pre-screening determines an individual qualifies for an ESA, they are then connected to a licensed mental health professional for a consultation. The mental health professional will speak with the individual about their needs, and if the professional believes an ESA will be a beneficial part of the patient’s treatment plan, they will issue an emotional support animal ESA letter. An individual will typically receive immediate access to a PDF version of their emotional support animal letter, which they can print from a home computer. Most telehealth platforms also offer the option of mailing an ESA letter. 149 See if you qualify for an Emotional Support Animal right away! Take the free, 5-minute pre-screening test right now and receive instant results. If you qualify, you’ll have the option to move forward with an ESA Letter Consultation with a licensed mental health professional!

Can you have more than one ESA?


Meet our Selected Therapists

Headshot of therapist: Bolutife 19 Reviews Bolt “Bolt”, LCSW-S, MPA Licensed Therapist
Equipped with over 13 years, Bolu has worked with various populations (adolescents, couples, families, and adults), but finds passion in working with the BIPOC community suffering from trauma. Headshot of therapist: Shaunae 19 Reviews Shaunae, M.S., LPC Licensed Therapist
I have worked in the mental health field for 10 years with experience across diverse populations and communities. I’m dedicated to ensuring the best care possible. Image of therapist: Michael 32 Reviews Michael, LPC, LCDC Licensed Therapist
I graduated from UT Dallas with my BA in Psychology, University of the Southwest with my MS in counseling, and California Southern University with my PsyD in Psychology, but have been an LPC and LCDC since 2011. Headshot of therapist: Jasmine 32 Reviews Jasmine, LCMHC Licensed Therapist
I graduated with a BA in Political Science and a minor in Psychology. I completed my Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Since graduating, I have been working in private practice. Headshot of therapist: Rhiana 29 Reviews Rhiana, MA, LPC, LAC Licensed Professional Counselor
I primarily work with people experiencing homelessness. I began doing emotional support evaluations to increase housing access to all. An image of Pettable therapist, Melissa 23 Reviews Melissa, LCSW Licensed Clinical Social Worker
I’m a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Certified Substance Abuse Counselor. I graduated from the Catholic University’s National Catholic School of Social Service with a Master of Social Work.

Mental Health Importance Scholarship

Scholarship Award: $1000 The Mental Health Importance Scholarship is a $1,000 scholarship open to any student who believes mental health is important. The deadline to apply is December 1, 2022, and winners will be announced on December 15, 2022. The Mental Health Importance Scholarship is a $1,000 scholarship open to any student who believes mental health is important. The deadline to apply is December 1, 2022, and winners will be announced on December 15, 2022.


Mental health dictates every aspect of our lives, and everyone needs support from time to time. College is an exciting and challenging time for new students; many feel overwhelmed, confused, or anxious while away from home.To raise awareness for the mental health of college students, we’re awarding the Pettable Mental Health Importance Scholarship. Before students can do well in school, they must take care of their mental well-being. The new surroundings and challenges can affect some college students, and getting the needed support may not be easy. We encourage those who recognize the importance of mental health to apply. Amount: $1,000 Application deadline: December 1, 2022 Apply Here

  • Believes mental health is important
  • High school senior, undergraduate student, or graduate student
  • Current U.S. citizen or permanent legal resident

You can apply for this scholarship on the scholarship platform. Simply set up a free account and submit your application for the Mental Health Importance Scholarship, along with a short essay answering the following prompts:

  • Why do you believe your mental health is important?
  • How do you maintain your mental wellness?

Apply Here Scholarship Frequently Asked Questions When is the scholarship deadline? The application will be open through December 1, 2022. What is the scholarship prize? The scholarship award is $1,000. When will the winner be chosen and notified? Prior to the announcement date, we may contact finalists with additional questions about their application. Recipients will be chosen based on the merit of their application. How will the scholarship be paid? We will send the $1,000 award check to the recipient in their name. How will my application information be used? Pettable manages this scholarship with the support of the scholarship platform. takes student confidentiality and privacy incredibly seriously. Please refer to the application page on for full details. According to the Mental Health Foundation, pets can help mental health by reducing anxiety, boosting confidence, helping add structure and routine to your day, and even help you meet people by meeting other dog owners on walks. A growing trend worldwide is the prescription by mental health professionals of emotional support animals to help those with mental issues who benefit from the presence of an animal. The outright emotional benefits of such animal companionship are many, but the world is also not quite ready to simply accept this trend as the norm just yet. Since emotional support animals are not yet ubiquitous, documentation of this need by a licensed professional is a helpful, if not outright necessary component. This is where the notion of emotional support animal letters comes in. An emotional support animal letter (ESA letter) is the official document issued by an official clinician that designates an animal and its owner as linked. This link is one part of a mental health treatment plan and is reissued on an annual basis, meaning its veracity is regularly reviewed, lending additional credibility to this document. A credible, legitimate ESA letter can be pivotal to maintaining your pet’s presence in a variety of circumstances, so it’s important to get one from the right source. This article is a guide to the top three emotional support animal letter providers, so you can do all of your research in one convenient place and keep your much-needed pet by your side.

Top 3 Emotional Support Animal Letter Providers

  1. Pettable – Editor’s Choice: Money-Back Guarantee
  2. Certapet – First Runner Up
  3. Emotional Pet Support – Second Runner Up

In-Depth Reviews: Top Emotional Support Animal Letter Providers

1. Pettable – Editor’s Choice: Money-Back Guarantee


  • Reputable, as seen on ABC News, CBS, Newsweek
  • Offers Psychiatric Service Dog letters too
  • 100% money-back guarantee if ESA or PSD letter is not accepted
  • Legally compliant for travel and housing, follows state and federal regulations and laws


  • Must pay in full prior to consultation, but money is fully refunded if letter is not accepted

Features of Pettable Pettable is an online service that assists customers like you in obtaining an ESA letter from a mental health professional for a pet. Licensed mental health professionals are connected with you as a client and they determine if you and your pet are eligible and qualify for an ESA letter. If the LMHP comes to the conclusion and determination that you do qualify then the licensed medical health professional will write the ESA letter following the state and federal regulations and law for you and your pet stating that your pet is an emotional support animal-ESA. What Pettable Does The first step on the Pettable website is to take a 3 minute assessment to determine if you qualify for an emotional support animal. There are simple questions in the determination process, the first few being easy like, do you already have a pet or is this for a future pet? Pettable makes it easy and it’s a nice consideration to obtain an ESA letter for a future pet you plan on making your new sidekick. After the three minute assessment, you then are able to speak to a licensed mental health professional on a personal phone call to further evaluate and assess your needs to ensure that Pettable is the best option to obtain a legitimate ESA letter. After speaking to the licensed mental health professional and it is determined that you qualify, Pettable guarantees your letter within 24 hours of your assessment phone call. Why Pettable Made Our List Pettable leads our list of the best emotional support animal letter options because of sheer excellence in service. Pettable is known for its top-notch customer support services, which is extra important when you consider that something like an ESA is still not necessarily accepted everywhere. If you need a service to be at the ready to have your back if any challenge to your pet’s status comes up, Pettable has you covered. In fact, Pettable even offers some limited legal counsel as part of its service. Our review team found their 100% money-back guarantee and this level of legal support to be above and beyond, to the point that Pettable is first on our list. Pettable cares so much for the well-being of pets and their owners that they live by their truth and even offer a variety of scholarships called Pettable Scholarship Programs. Pettable believes in and supports keeping people side by side with their pets, even in extenuating circumstances or times of great transition in life. They offer two different scholarships as well as a Military grant. The emphasis of these programs are simple: They realize how important pets are to mental and emotional health. More often than not when moving or when life decides to throw you a speed bump, there are situations that arise where you might not be able to afford to pay deposits or keep your pet and Pettable simply can’t stand for that. Not only do they care for their patrons but they care for the well-being of all of our furry little friends, too. After reviewing this and seeing that they back up their brand with kindness, Pettable absolutely had to be first on our list. Visit for more information

2. Certapet – First Runner Up


  • Fully compliant with all state and federal laws
  • Straightforward process
  • Also offers psychiatric service dog letters as well


  • Domestic North American letter availability only

Features of Certapet One of the most important features of any emotional support animal letter is that it is as applicable and effective in as many places and scenarios as possible. In the case of Certapet, its service is 100 percent compliant with state and federal laws throughout the U.S. Any service that offers an ESA letter for your pet involves a multi-step process, but Certapet makes this part as easy and straightforward as possible. This is another major positive feature of Certapet. The steps are simple and involve a screening step, consultation step, and ESA letter step. Screening Step – First, you answer a free screening questionnaire about you and your dog or other type of ESA (cat, bird, etc.). The quiz only takes about five minutes and the purpose is to ensure that your circumstances meet the standards needed in order for your pet to be certified as an emotional support animal. This confidential step is intentionally fast because Certapet values your time and knows that it is in everyone’s best interest to ensure that your life and scenario fit the needs of the program so you can be sure to get your letter. Consultation Step – Next, Certapet arranges a meeting with a licensed mental health professional from your state. This approach ensures that you’re not only considered in an official capacity, but also that you’re seen by a mental health professional from your own state and who is therefore more familiar with the circumstances that are specific to your own state laws. Letter Step – Upon finding a determination in favor of granting an ESA letter, the Certapet licensed professional will outline the details specific to the situation between you and your pet. In addition, the Certapet professional will outline a treatment plan to assist with the mental health and emotional needs related to the scenario as well. As part of this step, you will be issued an emotional support animal letter that you can either choose to print yourself at home or have issued as an official document that is mailed to you separately. Both are acceptable and viable options. What Certapet Does People the world over suffer from emotional support needs. For those in the U.S. and Canada, Certapet is able to screen and recommend treatments for these needs, including issuance of a legitimate ESA letter or a Psychiatric Service Dog letter. Why Certapet Made Our List Certapet conducts the emotional support animal letter service both often and well, if its more than 65,000 reviews at a five-star rating are any indicator. Certapet also makes it an easy one stop shop by providing a definitive guide for emotional support dog vests. They provide you with an easy measurement guide, a valuable list of resources explaining why a vest is a good idea to have with your emotional support animal, and then with a link option to purchase a vest. Certapet’s simple and effective process keeps patients and pets happy and makes Certapet one of our top ESA letter picks. Visit for more information

2. Emotional Pet Support – Second Runner Up


  • Full refund within 30 days of purchase if not satisfied
  • Open 7 days a week with including a licensed healthcare professional
  • Offers a bundle discount when purchasing an ESA letter and a PSD letter for travel


  • No legal support
  • Currently does not support a shortlist of specific airlines

Features of Emotional Pet Support A great feature that Emotional Pet Support has is offering their clients not only formal documentation of their ESA letter but also provides .pdf downloads as well as ID cards for on-the-go access. Emotional Pet Support also offers a money-back guarantee if submitted within 30 days of the original purchase of the ESA letter. This refund holds true as well if one of their licensed mental health professionals does not approve your request for an ESA letter. Another great feature of Emotional Pet Support is they have 7-day-a-week availability. What Emotional Pet Support Does Emotional Pet Support is a service that provides an ESA letter for your emotional support companion. This service makes it fairly simple and straightforward, giving you the first step which is the initial screening process directly on their homepage. Filling out the exam questionnaire and deciding on which purchase options you would prefer is all that is needed for your information to then be looked over and consulted by a licensed mental health professional. After your online exam is reviewed by a professional, and it is determined that you are in need of an ESA letter, a secure link is sent to your email address and that gives you access to your ESA letter and other documentation in .pdf form. If you are requiring other documentation, such as a Department of Transportation form for a PSD for air travel that is filled out by a dog trainer, Emotional Pet Support prides themselves on offering their online Psychiatric Service Dog trainer service. This program takes about a month to complete and is completely online. A professional dog trainer engages with you and with your dog to learn basic commands that are also the requirements needed to be considered a PSD. Is your dog already trained and you just need documentation stating so? Well you are in luck because Emotional Pet Support services offer this easily as well. The path for this is quick and easy, starting with watching two videos provided by Emotional Pet Support on their website to use as a guide and compare if your dog is at the same trained level as what is considered to be trained. If you feel that your dog meets the criteria then it is your turn to show it to your pooch and upload a video like the proud owner you are of your dog following the basic commands. Emotional Pet Support will then assign you a trainer and they will provide you with all the necessary documentation needed for the Department of Transportation forms so you can complete them and have them professionally signed off by your personally assigned and professional trainer from Emotional Pet Support. Why Emotional Pet Support Made Our List Emotional Pet Support made our list as a top three ESA letter service because of the ease and user friendly platform they have to offer. They also provide such quick ESA letter documentation within the same day of determining eligibility that it takes the stress and worry out of wondering if you are going to get the documentation you need. The company also provides additional training resources and documentation for PSD needs which makes handling all the necessities for your specific dog-related needs in one easy spot and for bundled prices! Emotional Pet Support definitely supports their patients and we couldn’t help adding them to our list. Visit for more information

How Our Best ESA Letter Providers Were Chosen

We made this list of the best emotional support-ESA letter providers by consulting a panel of experts. These experts run the gamut from pet experts to clinicians to owners of ESAs themselves. Taken into account was everything from features to pricing and from process to accessibility and reputation. Of all the legitimate ESA letter provider brands we reviewed, what remains here are the top three brands available on the market today.

What Are Emotional Support Animals and ESA Letters?

Uses for ESAs include, but are not limited to, comfort, soothing, and helping with dealing in difficult or upsetting circumstances. ESAs can even teach humans how to interact with other animals. They can aid people with sadness and other mental disorders including PTSD, depression, anxiety, and loneliness. Emotional support animals, although they are not recognized as service animals, still fulfill a similar purpose by giving individuals in need comfort and company. Under the Fair Housing Act, landlords must allow ESAs to live with their owner regardless of any no-pet rules or extra fees for pets in place. Authorities frequently require an ESA letter to formally reflect the therapeutic need for such an animal before allowing an ESA to accompany a person into various public spaces or places of business. As you can see, an ESA letter is incredibly useful for those who benefit from having their emotion-balancing pet pals around everywhere they go. To make sure one is qualified for the numerous benefits connected with such a designation, an ESA letter is required. Advantages of such an ESA letter include:

  • Readily available official records for your pet friend.
  • Per the U.S. Fair Housing Act, regardless of animal policies at any given domicile, you can ensure access to the dwelling of your choice.
  • Freedom from animal-related rent fees (under the Fair Housing Act).
  • Some transportation benefits (though it should be noted that travel rules have changed recently – see your preferred airline’s policy prior to travel to be sure).
  • Peace of mind from knowing you have all the necessary verification components, should the need for proof arise.

An ESA letter is, in essence, a note authorizing the possession of an emotional support animal that enables people with disabilities to keep one at home regardless of a landlord’s pet policies (per the Fair Housing Act) and to take it with them most everywhere they go, including to public spaces and privately-owned establishments. As the only official documentation for a situation where a person wants to bring an ESA into a location that otherwise does not accept animals or pets, an ESA letter is a crucial document. That’s why it’s important to ensure you obtain an ESA letter from a reputable source, such as one of the brands on this list. An ESA letter should look professional because it is an official document. Make certain that any letter you receive regarding an ESA includes, at the very least:

  • The ESA letter should be written by a licensed mental health professional (and signed), all on official company letterhead from the issuing organization.
  • A license, clearly stated, that the mental health professional possesses, together with any identifying information regarding that license, such as a license number, license issue date, license expiration date, and the state that provided the license.
  • The date of issuing should be clearly visible (including the letter’s specific and individual issue date).
  • A clear explanation of how the animal is essential for success in daily life.
  • A simple suggestion that the patient utilize an ESA. Note: it is important to avoid using the phrase “prescription” here, because the issuance of an ESA letter is not a prescription. Instead, this is a suggestion from a knowledgeable mental health professional for an ESA as part of a treatment plan.

The ESA letter should also mention that the applicant has tried to make other accommodations, such as medication, therapy, or changes to their living situation, but they have not been successful in alleviating their symptoms. Even though they are not necessary under the Fair Housing Act or Air Carrier Access Act, information about your emotional support animal, such as color, breed, kind, name, and size, gives the ESA letter more credibility. Remember: an emotional support animal letter’s validity is only slightly more important than its perception. It has to not only be official, but also physically appear to be so, as well. You want to work with a reputable brand such as those on this list of the best ESA letter providers to ensure you get both.

How Do I Qualify for an ESA Letter?

An emotional support animal letter is a document that is issued by a licensed mental health professional. An ESA letter will state that the person in question has been diagnosed with a mental health condition and needs an ESA to help them with their symptoms. In order to qualify for an ESA letter, you must have a mental or physical disability certified by a physician. You will need to undergo an evaluation by an organization qualified to issue an ESA letter, such as those on this list. During such an evaluation, you will be asked to provide documentation that your disability is recognized by the Department of Veterans Affairs, Social Security Administration, or other government agency. This type of letter can be used as proof when applying for housing, applying for school, or in some travel scenarios. It can also be used to provide access to public spaces and facilities if the person in question has been granted permission by the establishment.

What are the Benefits of an ESA?

More often than not, individuals who are seeking out the companionship of an emotional support animal are looking for comfort and solace from an animal. They have chosen to help cope with whatever psychiatric difficulties they are currently experiencing and/or recovering from by utilizing an ESA as a recovery asset tool. The benefits of an ESA have a wide range of positive improvements on a person’s life mentally, emotionally, and physically. Trauma seems to be a leading factor in today’s society for the need of an ESA. Being able to bond with an animal and create a sincere and personal companionship with an animal can improve mental health in a positive way. Significant increases in quality of life have been documented with individuals who have emotional support animals to care for, including being more productive in their day to day routines and less likely to fall back into the debilitating ruts of depression or other mental health issues. In recent years the number of soldiers returning from war-prone areas suffering from PTSD, or post traumatic stress disorder has increased. Soldiers who had sleeping issues prior to having an ESA were able to fall into more stable and routine sleeping patterns and maintain them consistently with the companionship of an emotional support animal. ESAs that are by a soldier’s side have also been shown to help with startle response management, effectively assisting in coping with understanding they are in a safe place and cognitively recognizing sooner that the situation is in fact not a threatening one.

Pets That Qualify as an ESA

Emotional support animals are defined as an animal that provides emotional support for individuals with psychiatric disabilities by providing companionship. Naturally, it is easy to think of domestic animals first like dogs or cats. In regards to obtaining an ESA letter, licensed mental health professionals do need to make the determination that the animal you are seeking the letter for provides you with a more stable emotional state. But it can really be any animal, not limited to domestic creatures. Keep in mind if you so choose to go towards more exotic breeds of animals like snakes or lizards, it does get more difficult to get public acceptance in places of business where there might be some push back on if certain types of animals are welcome. It should also be noted that an ESA is one that is also manageable in public and is not a nuisance. You might have your heart set on taking your pet ducks Duckleberry Finn and Duck Norris everywhere with you, but unless they are properly trained and eagerly follow your directions and commands it might be a tad difficult for them to nab a seat next to you in a movie theater. Extraordinary scenarios aside, nearly any well-behaved (and well-named!) animal has the potential to qualify as an emotional support animal.

Difference Between an ESA and a Service Animal

ESAs are there to support owners who are in need of exactly that, emotional or mental health support. People who are living their life coping with a mental health disability can depend on an ESA to help deal with the symptoms they have with a mental or emotional disability like anxiety or depression. Simply being in the presence of their support companion animal friend helps individuals feel calmer, safer, or other positive effects from their ESA. A service animal, on the other hand, provides a service to a disabled individual, being professionally trained to carry out daily tasks that a disabled person (physically or psychologically disabled) is unable to do for themselves. For example, a person that is wheelchair bound might have a service dog that assists them in turning on household lights for them that are out of reach, or be trained to retrieve items that were dropped on the floor. There are also seeing eye guide dogs, specially trained for years before they are assigned to a person that is visually impaired. Psychiatric Service Dogs are also classified as service dogs if they have the appropriate documentation from professionals.


What documents may be needed for passengers traveling with ESAs?

Airlines and other travel-related businesses or services could ask for proof of your animal’s good manners, as emotional support animals must exhibit social graces and demeanor appropriate for a support animal in public (including the requirement that the animal not be a nuisance to others). In addition to an ESA letter, a note from a veterinarian attesting to the pet’s good health and good behavior may also be required.

What rights does an ESA letter entitle me to?

Emotional support animals are a growing trend in the United States, but they can be a tricky topic for landlords and airlines (as well as trains, buses and other public transportation). The U.S. Department of Transportation defines an ESA loosely as ‘an animal that provides therapeutic benefits to an individual with a mental or emotional disability’. An airline will almost always require an ESA letter in order to allow you to travel with your ESA. This can be a challenge, especially if you are flying on short notice. An ESA letter is a letter from a mental health care professional that certifies your emotional support animal will provide you with therapeutic benefits. They might also require you to fill out some other forms, such as the Department of Transportation’s online form for passengers traveling with animals or the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s online form for transporting animals in cargo. ESAs are not the same as trained service animals and they shouldn’t be confused with therapy dogs. A therapy dog usually works with a professional and is trained to assist people with disabilities in a much more physical way than emotional support animals, whose primary function is to support emotion, not physical needs. It is rare, but sometimes not required to provide documentation for your ESA, but you’ll have a much easier time if you are ready to provide this documentation. This preparation ensures that you are not caught without a way to ensure it’s clear that your ESA is a clinical need and not just a household pet that you’d prefer to have around. An emotional support animal does not need to be trained or licensed in order to be allowed on airplanes with you, either, though these guidelines have changed in recent years. In early 2021 the Department of Justice in the United States updated the rules of the Air Carrier Access Act, or ACAA. This update unfortunately removed some of the rights previously afforded to ESAs. The difference is that emotional support animals are now designated as “pets” in terms of the policies that apply to them on airlines. Allowance of your emotional support animal may now be more limited than it once was, and may also carry a price tag that it may not have previously. We highly recommend checking the pet policies of the airline you are considering before travel to ensure you know what to expect.


Understanding how to obtain a legitimate ESA letter can be confusing. We compiled this list to make the process seem less daunting and ensure that it is relatively quick and easy to assist you in finding the best option that works for your needs. This article has been supplied by Originated Media, a paid advertiser. Content has not been independently verified by Los Angeles magazine.

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