If you have an emotional support animal and want to travel, you will need to get an emotional support animal letter or registration as soon as possible.
There is a tremendous amount of confusion out there when it comes to what a person can or cannot do with an emotional support animal, or ESA, so we wanted to clear the air in a manner of speaking.
Emotional Support Animals are Similar to Service Animals
There are individuals who think that an ESA and a pet are in the same category because the patient is not visually impaired. While the patient requiring an ESA is not visually impaired, they do require the dog to help alleviate psychological and/or emotional conditions that they are suffering from.
Some of the more common conditions that an ESA are used for include:
• Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
If you are receiving therapy for a psychological and/or emotional illness, your mental help professional may determine that you should have an emotional support animal and write an ESA letter. This letter gives you special access rights for your ESA that a regular pet owner does not have when traveling and using public facilities – including hotels. There are firms that can help you secure these letters.
How an ESA Letter Impacts Hotel Accommodations
When traveling with your emotional support animal, you may need to stay at a hotel. There are hotels that have a zero-pet policy in effect. If you did not have the ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional and were traveling with the animal, the hotel could refuse allowing you and your dog to rent a room. With the ESA letter, by law the hotel would need to allow both you and the dog access to a room. The law regarding these animals is very similar to the service animal laws that grant access rights to helper dogs for individuals who are visually impaired.
What Constitutes a Valid ESA Letter
In order for an emotional support animal letter to be valid, there are a few conditions it must satisfy to be considered legal.
• The person issuing the letter needs to be a licensed mental healthcare professional who has professionally assessed you.
• The letter will need to have to be drafted on paper that bears the official letterhead of the licensed mental healthcare professional.
• It will need to have the licensing details of the mental healthcare professional.
• Your full name and address must be included.
• The reason why you need the emotional support animal must be clearly stated.
• The letter must be signed by the licensed mental healthcare professional and show the current date.
If the letter has all of these items addressed, then it is considered valid. The letter would need to be renewed each and every year so you should pay close attention to the date of the letter so you do not travel with an expired emotional support animal letter.