How do I get my dog certified as an emotional support dog?

by on October 7, 2010

Question by MEMA: How do I get my dog certified as an emotional support dog?
My granddaughter’s psyciatrist wrote a prescription for a support dog. She has Bipolor disorder. In order to live alone she’ll need to be reminded to take her medication, to be awakened in an emergency, etc. I purchased a very smart maltipoo. How do I get her certified here in Salt Lake City?

Best answer:

Answer by Kirsten R
Emotional support animals need no certification. A psychiatrist’s note is sufficient for the purposes of housing and flying in commercial aircraft.

Remember that in order to qualify, the owner must be disabled by mental illness. Most people diagnosed with mental illness are not disabled by it, though some are. In the same vein, most people diagnosed with a vision impairment are not blind (they just need glasses). Your granddaughter’s psychiatrist can discuss this with her and help her determine in her specific case whether this applies to her.

If instead you are talking about public access, as opposed to “no pets” housing, then you will probably need the help of a professional trainer. Service dogs require 18-24 months of expert training. Very few pet owners are going to have the skills necessary to do this training on their own. Further, very few dogs have all of the qualities needed to become full service dogs. However, the two tasks you mentioned do not require public access, and would not require as extensive training as they are only needed at home.

Beware of scam organizations that offer certification for a fee. Again, it is not necessary and these certifications mean nothing. A recent court case brought this home when a woman claimed her monkey as a service animal and had one of these certificates and the judge threw her case out of court. Spend your money on training instead of scams. I say this because odds are about 99% that one of these scam organizations will have an ad appear on the same page as your question.

Know better? Leave your own answer in the comments!

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 kelly 03.18.12 at 5:06 pm

do airlines have to accept emotional support animals

2 sussie 03.19.12 at 7:31 am

Yes they do providing that you have a letter from your Doctor stating that the ESA is needed.

3 Zoila Ricca 04.16.12 at 9:54 am

I want to get my two dogs as service dogs. I suffer from panic attacks please advise. Thank you Zoila Ricca

4 sussie 04.18.12 at 5:00 pm

You will need a letter from a Doctor stating that you need a service dog. They you will need identification for the dog saying it is a Service Dog.

5 Deanna Figueroa 04.29.12 at 4:58 pm

I was recently reunited with my dog, Pepper, who I had to leave behind in foster care 17 months ago when my poor health and a failed relationship left me homeless with no way to care for my little guy.

I missed him terribly and he was almost 2,000 miles away, so I never got to see him at all. It definitely slowed my recovery and affected my mental health.

I was finally awared SSI in March & am renting a room in a house where I am able to keep him, but it’s expensive and I am struggling.

Luckily, the day before Pepper came ‘home’ I was offered the possibility of subsidized housing through the clinic where I receive my mental health treatment. Under normal circumstances, pets are not allowed.

I spoke to the housing director and she said that Pepper will be accepted as long as he is prescribed by my psychiatrist as an emotional support dog.

I have little doubt that he will be willing to write such a prescription, he is one of those rare psychiatrists who is also a caring therapist, but I don’t know if he has ever written one of these letters, so it would be a great help to him if I can bring him in a form letter that he can put on the center’s letterhead and sign.

Time is really tight at the clinic. I’m afraid that if the letter isn’t written properly that I may lose the chance to get the apartment and keep Pepper.

I have searched all over the internet, but all I find are places selling bogus letters, I cannot find a sample of a real one.

I did find some examples of Psych service dogs, but that’s not what I’m entitled to, nor is my dog trained for that.

Thanks in advance for your help.

Being able to have Pepper with me to my own apartment that I could actually afford instead of paying a fortune to live with 8 people would make a world of difference in my recovery and mental stability.

6 sussie 05.04.12 at 11:26 am

There is no such thing as a Psych Dog anymore. As of March 15th of last year, there are either Service Dogs or Emotional Support Animals. The letter that you would need has to be from your Doctor. It cannot be something that is purchased off the internet.

7 Chelle 06.13.12 at 10:05 am

In response to Deana: this link might be helpful. It’s a sample letter. I haven’t been able to find an example of a prescription for an ESA yet. My professionals asked if I knew where to find form letter versions, too.

Here’s the thing, though. While many types of discrimination are illegal, they still happen. Lots. Especially when the discriminatory party can afford lawyers and knows their victim can’t. So even with all the proper paperwork completely in order, a landlord CAN refuse your request. They just run the risk of penalties for doing so. My totally-not-a-lawyer advice is to try to find an advocate of some type. Also, read that whole website’s section on ESAs and write down any questions you think of so you can present them to an attorney when you find one.

And DON’T pay some site, like Sussie said. They basically provide you with fraudulent documents, which you being none the wiser then present somewhere and get in trouble. They get your money, you get the crappy consequences.

8 deanna and sweetiepie 08.02.12 at 11:12 am

I looks like Kirstin is talking re a psychiatric service dog..there is a huge is a great site
It is from the state of California, but has the best information re the difference i have found

9 Brea Hicks 03.06.14 at 9:02 am

Is an emotional support dog the same thing as a companion pet ? How do I get my dog to do that for me

10 sussie 03.06.14 at 11:05 am

Yes it is. All you need is a letter from your mental health doctor stating that you need an ESA and you will be fine having the dog with you in your rental.

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