Where can I certify my Emotional Support Animal?

by on December 21, 2010

Question by nit_cole: Where can I certify my Emotional Support Animal?
I have a great dane pup that I am using as a ESA for my depression and I need to get her certified so I don’t have any problems with my landlord. Has anyone used any of the service animal registration sites and are they legit?

Best answer:

Answer by letterstoheather
You can have your psychiatrist write a letter which states you need to have the animal with you. Your psychiatrist is likely aware of what to say, and just in case you’d like to know, there is a federal law which gives disabled folks who rent, the right to keep a dog. And in your case, depression would be the disability.

Your landlord is likely aware of this law, as well.

I hope this helps in some way.

What do you think? Answer below!

{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kirsten 12.21.10 at 3:00 pm

All online registration sites for emotional support animals (or service animals) are SCAMS.

1. Certification is not required. What IS required is a letter from a mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist or other therapist.

2. Certification online, where all you do is fill out a form and send in money means only that you were willing to pay money for a piece of paper you could have printed out on your home computer for less, that would be just as meaningless.

Here are the instructions for making a request for a reasonable accommodation under the FHAA (Fair Housing Amendments Act) to get to keep an ESA (emotional support animal) in “no pets” housing: http://www.servicedogcentral.org/content/node/257

Save your money. Don’t get scammed, and don’t perpetuate the fraud these people perpetrate on the disabled AND the public. See also: http://servicedogcentral.org/content/node/509

2 mariahleadme 12.21.10 at 3:10 pm

ALL of those “certification” sites are scams. They would “certify” a bicycle as an ESA….just as long as you pay the fee. Don’t waste your time or money……they are ALL illegitimate and NONE of them have stood up in a court of law as valid.

The key here with regards to the law is…….is your request reasonable? The law states that “reasonable accommodations” be made. If you live in a 500 sq/ft studio apartment, a Great Dane would not be considered reasonable and could legally be denied; whereas a Jack Russel could be considered reasonable and be approved.
What you must have is documentation from your primary care physician that you are indeed disabled by your depression and that your physician believes that the presence of the animal is beneficial to your mental health as part of your treatment regimen. The determination from your physician is not a “free-for-all” when it comes to which animal you may use….you still must make the request reasonable. The FHAA (Fair Housing Amendments Act) stipulates the requirements that must be met for one to have an ESA in “no-pets” housing. Google it up and check it out.

Remember that the handler of an ESA does not have any public access rights with the animal; the handler only has the rights to live in certain “no-pets” housing and to travel on common carrier airlines with the animal as long as the proper documentation and arrangements have been made beforehand.

3 kiersten 01.17.11 at 8:47 pm

I appreciate this information. Unfortunately, I have run into a problem with school employees, our pediatrician, etc. No one wants to recommend a companion animal for my son due to liability. NO one will sign ANYTHING or even suggest that a companion animal is a good idea. I would like to know if others have run into this problem and if so, what did they do? Thanks, Kiersten

4 Dawn 02.10.11 at 6:53 pm

I was treated for Vasovagal Syncope, this is where my blood pressure goes up and drops very fast. It throws me into an attack, very frightening but not deadly. I called my doctor and asked if he would qualify my Golden Retriever as an” emotional needed “pet and he said that my dog was needed, and emailed me a letter. I got the letter in about 10 min.
I think doctors are scared because they are confusing therapy pets with emotional pets. Take the written definition of emotional pets and some info when you ask.

5 Wayne O. 04.06.11 at 10:51 am

I’m guessing that some registration companies ARE scams, but as a person who has an ESA, I’ve found that having my dog registered and an official ID, along with patches and a vest makes my life MUCH easier when travelling and even in my apartment complex (no animals allowed here).

People are awful quick to disparage any company that helps the disabled, whether the company is forthright or not. If the registration company is open about what the registration process does and does not (and that it is not required by law), then they provide a valuable service for folks just like me to make life easier (it’s hard enough as it is). Service and emotional support animals are not required to be registered, wear aspecial harness or vest, or even have an ID card. But try being accompanied by your service dog without them! the experience is nothing but confrontation after confrontation!

6 JOEL PARKS RN 04.12.11 at 12:02 pm

Dear Gentle Persons
Would it be possible to obtain a” written form” for my Dr. to sign , that states the pupose of my Dog is for emotional support, and performs it’s duty as a emotional support dog.
anyone that can give me direction on this , please assist. I have a Small dog in My condo . other service dog are also in same condo. { in Florida}.
Thanking you in advance for any help.
Joel Parks

7 sussie 04.12.11 at 1:49 pm

I have emailed you a copy of a form that your Doctor can fill out.

Sussie and Gunny

8 KarenBaumgartner 04.12.11 at 5:10 pm

My husband suffers from PTSD after serving in Vietnam in 1970
I would like a sample letter that his psychologist can use as a base line.
Thank you for your help.

9 sussie 04.13.11 at 9:24 am

I have one that you can use. Its in PDF form. If you will email me, I can send it to you.


Sussie and Gunny

10 jen stout 07.20.11 at 5:46 pm

Hello ,
I have just moved into a new appartmant and my land lord requires a letter from my doctor stating that i need to keep my emotional support animal to assist with my anxiety disorder.
Can anyone assist me as to where I can find a template or guidline to have my doctor attatch an Rx to?

11 sussie 07.22.11 at 9:55 am

I have a template you can use.

Please contact me at macnachtan@q.com

12 Carla Jimenez 08.01.11 at 6:40 pm

I have a small cocker spaniels who is and has been my sole companion. I suffer from clinical depression and she is the reason I get up in the morning and I’m able to go and work. I have to fly for work and it’s only a 2 hour flight. Never had a problem taking her with me, but now, I am being told that I cannot take her with me. Do you have a sample letter I can take to my doctor for him to sign, so that I can certify my dog as an ESA?
Thanks so much for your help.

13 sussie 08.03.11 at 5:45 pm

I have a sample letter you can use. Email me and I will send it to you.

14 JaneR 05.15.12 at 11:01 pm

I have RSD/CRPS. If you are not fimalar with this condition it is a cronic pain that can be very disabling. My left arm is listed as 90% disabled. I got a pound pet to help me with my depression. I found shortly after that not only does she help cheer me up, but also seems to help me lower my pain levels faster when she is with me during a pain flare. I don’t think I will have any problem getting my shrink or pain doctor writting a letter and would appreciate the sample you have mentioned. I have her in obedince training now. What can I identify her with if evveryone is running a scam. I do get the questions and everyone wants to pet her not realizing she is working.
thanks for you thoughts and help.

15 Pbutalla 06.01.12 at 6:18 pm

I would like to have my new puppy serve as an emotional support dog. She certainly is that for me, helping me with grief. Any forms and/or suggestions would be appreciated.

16 Angel 06.15.12 at 1:29 pm

My landlord wants to take away my dog because he’s weigh is more than 20 pounds and i was thinking to get a Certificate which means that my dog is a Emotional Service Dog.
Does anyone knows any website to help me to get it ?

thanks for your time to read this 😥

17 aoak 06.15.12 at 5:33 pm

I am having trouble moving into a new building with my emotional support animal. My previous therapist wrote an official letter (on company letterhead) stating that i require the dog for anxiety. It explicitly states that the dog is alleviating a condition, but I am still getting push back from the condo association. They are stating that a physician has to write the letter. My primary care provider will not write the letter, since he says I am seeing the Licensed Clinical Social Worker for these mental health sessions. What are your suggestions? I live in Illinois, if this matters.

18 sussie 06.21.12 at 12:01 pm

Actually, since you have Anxiety, you are using the wrong “label” on your dog. As of March 15th 2011, dogs that are used to alleviate the symptoms of Anxiety are now called Service Dogs.

19 sussie 06.21.12 at 12:03 pm

There is no such thing as a certified emotional support animal. What is required is a letter from your Doctor stating that you need an emotional support animal. If your landlord still refuses you, then you can contact the fair housing board in your area for help.

20 cora 06.30.12 at 5:42 pm

I am also confussed about what to call my dog (ESA or Service Dog)
I suffer from Anxiety, depression and PTSD, panic attacks, separation anxiety and stress problems.. every thing I have researched says ESA because my chihuahua is not trained to do specific jobs. any advice.

21 sussie 07.05.12 at 4:37 pm

As of March 15th 2011 ADA has new rules. Anyone that suffers from what you have is allowed a Service Dog. It states…

Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties

22 sussie 07.05.12 at 4:39 pm

As of March 15,2011. The ADA changed the rules. It now states…

Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties

23 Gabby 07.23.12 at 7:30 am

I am a little confused. I have a miniature horse whom i know for a fact i can register as a ESH. But how come the statement on the website says under service DOG, that the uses can be for bi-polar and anxiety but not horses as a service animal? I am bi-polar with moderate to severe anxietyand my little girl is always the first one to calm me down and bring me back to earth when i get upset. Whenever i get upset, th first words out of my mouth are always, “I want my pony” and when i get to her, it takes all of five minutes for me to be the happiest person on earth. Why can’t she be called my SERVICE animal so i don’t have to drive my car to the barn balling my eyes out shaking with anxiety when i clearly shouldent be driving, just to see her and calm right down? I should be able to turn to my side and get a hug and bury my face in her horse scented neck…

24 Kieley 07.28.12 at 6:36 pm

I am just getting a puppy and I want to get her registered as an ESA or SD due to my Bipolar, Anxiety and Depression. I have a rough time doing daily things because of stress, which brings on anxiety, they mix together. The only issue is that I recently moved into my own apartment and as I am relying on SSI to pay bills until I can do otherwise, Money is tight. What is the cheapest way to register my dog and avoid conflict in public from staff and other buisness workers and where would I take her to do this?

25 Sage Seeley 08.06.12 at 5:30 am

Hi I am on Social Security Disability for my Hep C, Arthritis, Depression and PTSD. I would like to be able to visit my mom who has Cancer, but my Airlines said Bella is too big to fit under seat on plane. I can not conceive leaving her behind. I can’t even leave her for more than a couple hours without being worried sick about her. Could you send me a letter that I can bring to my doctor so I can travel with her, as a ESA dog. After receiving the letter what do I do next? Thank You for your help ! Sage

26 sussie 08.08.12 at 4:09 pm

I’m sorry but we do not provide letters. That has to be supplied by your Doctor.

27 sussie 08.08.12 at 4:14 pm

There is no such thing as a registered Service Dog. The ADA states the following…

ADA will not impose any type of formal training requirements, registration or certification process. While some groups have urged the Department to modify this position, the Department has determined that such a modification would not serve the full array of individuals with disabilities who use service animals, since individuals with disabilities may be capable of training, and some have trained, their service animal to perform tasks or do work to accommodate their disability. A training, registration or certification requirement would increase the expense of acquiring a service animal and might limit access to service animals. Especially those individuals with limited financial resources.

28 sussie 08.08.12 at 4:21 pm

Actually, according to the new ADA rules as of March 15th 2011, Miniature horses (Not Ponies! Actual Miniature horses. There is a difference) can be used as Service Animals. Below is copied and pasted from the revised ADA ruling…

In addition to the provisions about service dogs, the Department’s revised ADA regulations have a new, separate provision about miniature horses that have been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. (Miniature horses generally range in height from 24 inches to 34 inches measured to the shoulders and generally weigh between 70 and 100 pounds.) Entities covered by the ADA must modify their policies to permit miniature horses where reasonable. The regulations set out four assessment factors to assist entities in determining whether miniature horses can be accommodated in their facility. The assessment factors are (1) whether the miniature horse is housebroken; (2) whether the miniature horse is under the owner’s control; (3) whether the facility can accommodate the miniature horse’s type, size, and weight; and (4) whether the miniature horse’s presence will not compromise legitimate safety requirements necessary for safe operation of the facility.

29 Yuki 08.10.12 at 6:48 pm

I have a cat that I got because I have anxiety disorder that was diagnosed by my therapist. I live in the ghetto and I dont feel safe where I stay anymore. Im trying to get into a better area that has reasonable rates but they all wont take pets and the places that do have outrages rates. Is there anything that my therapist can write sign or do that will allow me to force places to accept me and my cat?

30 Brooks 08.29.12 at 8:23 pm

My husband has dementia. We adopted a mini poodle who is 2 yrs old now. She is really smart and took quickly to training . She is a life line for him. She will sit with him for hours at a time. My husbands’ Dr wrote a letter for him and we took her to Costa Rica last winter. She does her job so well the attendants couldn’t believe how calm and sweet she was. Having her has made a huge change in our lives. My husband is calm when he is holding her. She’s funny and makes him laugh. Because of her, we have less stress in our home. We take her into stores, outside dinning , Doctors appointment, almost anywhere. When she is with him he’s happy and content. She is truly a gift. Because his disability is not readily apparent ,we have been questioned several times as to the validity of ESA. I have trained her to sit quietly on his lap no matter what is going on around her. She can tell when he is getting anxious and jumps up next to him. Is there a way to have her certified as a service animal?

31 sussie 08.30.12 at 3:15 pm

Actually there is no such thing as a certified Service Animal. ADA states the following…

ADA will not impose any type of formal training requirements, registration or certification process. While some groups have urged the Department to modify this position, the Department has determined that such a modification would not serve the full array of individuals with disabilities who use service animals, since individuals with disabilities may be capable of training, and some have trained, their service animal to perform tasks or do work to accommodate their disability. A training, registration or certification requirement would increase the expense of acquiring a service animal and might limit access to service animals. Especially those individuals with limited financial resources.

Actually with your husband’s disability, you would not be using the dog as a ESA. The dog is doing Service Dog work and can, by law, be called a Service Dog.

32 angela cockburn 12.26.12 at 6:17 pm

i will be flying soon and will be taking my dog. he is an emotional support dog learning new tasks to be a PSA. i need a letter from my doctor. is there a form somewhere that she can fill in and print out making things less scary for her?

33 sussie 12.27.12 at 12:33 pm

No. I am sorry. but we do not provide forms. That is something you will need to have your Doctor do.

34 patricia white 07.27.13 at 8:14 am

Where can I get a copy of a letter to take to my doc to get my dog as an ESA? and is there a web site that gives me a list of what my rights are

Thank you

35 sussie 08.05.13 at 10:09 am

Actually your Doctor needs to write a letter in his own letter head.

ESA rights are very simple. Your dog is allowed into any housing that you were to rent or lease, and on airlines. That is all.

36 Carol 10.07.13 at 8:09 pm

I am blind, 67 years old and my husband passed away in 2009. I have had anxiety attacks for several years and my blood pressure would rise dangerously high. Since my husband passed away, it has gotten worse. Someone told my daughter that a dog would help me. She bought me a 5 lb Yorkie. This little dog is my life. She sits on my lap for hours. She barks when she wants fed, wants to go outside or when someone unexpected comes to my home. When my husband was living, we spent the winters in Texas. I decided that I would not go after his death. My daughter insisted. I have a mobile home there. The park that I stayed in told me that it was a no pet park and I had to move. It cost me 2,000 to have my mobile home moved to a park that would accept my yorkie. I only found out recently that I could have had her there with me as my ESA.

I have lost my transportation to Texas and now I will have to fly. I went to my doctor today to get a letter for my dog to travel with me on the aircraft. I am so afraid that they are going to make me put her in a carrier under the seat and I know that she will not want to be off of my lap for the duration of the flight.. Since ESA is not an assist or service dog will they allow her to be on my lap?

37 sussie 10.09.13 at 9:51 am

If you are using the dog for Anxiety, that is not an Emotional Support Animal, that is a service dog.

38 Carol Herdt 11.16.13 at 8:38 am

I am 72 year old women . I am very anxious when I leave my toy poodle. So am unable to travel without her. I have called her a confort dog in the past and she has been able to sit on my lap durning air travel and allowed into nice hotels But now it seems to be harder to to accomplish this. Annie is very well behaved and very social she is able to make everyone love her. Do you know how I can be sure that I can accommodate our future travel with Annie . She is now nine and we my husband and I want to travel now as we don’t know how long we will be able to.
Yours truly. Carol Herdt

39 sussie 11.18.13 at 10:00 am

Actually what you have is a Service Dog, NOT an ESA.

40 Zay 12.07.13 at 7:31 pm

So you if have a depression disorder the dog is considered an ESA but if you have an axiety disorder the dog is considered a Service dog? Is there another site with that update that states owners with anxiety can now quality their dog as a Service dog? Its like an upgrade because they have more access to public places. Also is a doctors note or is it a doctor’s perscription thats required? Thank you.

41 sussie 12.09.13 at 10:42 am

Here is what the ADA states…

Partial List of Qualified Disabilities:

Physical Problem:

Asthma (or other breathing problems)
Blindness (& partial blindness)
Deafness (& partial deafness)
Dizziness/Balance problems
General Hearing Difficulty
Mobility Problems
Neurological Problems
Physical Weakness
Speech Problems

Emotional/Mental Problem:

Age-Related Cognitive Decline
Any Psychiatric Condition (see exclusions below)
Bipolar Disorder
Emotionally Overwhelmed
Panic Attacks
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Separation Anxiety
Social Phobia
Stress Problems

ADA Definitions of Qualified Disability:

Under the ADA, an individual with a disability is a person who:
Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities;
Has a record of such an impairment; or
Is regarded as having such an impairment.
A physical impairment is defined by the ADA as:
Any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological, musculoskeletal, special sense organs, respiratory (including speech organs), cardiovascular, reproductive, digestive, genitourinary, hemic and lymphatic, skin, and endocrine.

A mental impairment is defined by the ADA as:

Any mental or psychological disorder, such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities.

NOTE: The ADA does not list all conditions or diseases that make up physical, mental, and emotional impairments, because it would be impossible to provide a comprehensive list given the variety of possible impairments.

Exclusions to the Qualified Disability Definition:

Neither deviant behavior (e.g., political, religious, or sexual) nor conflicts that are primarily between the individual and society are mental disorders unless the deviance or conflict is a symptom of a dysfunction in the individual. According to Title II of the American with Disabilities Act of 1990, current or future interpretation of psychological disabilities excludes common personality traits such as poor judgment or a quick temper.

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