Validate Your Emotional Support Animal With a Letter From Your Doctor

by Sue on October 4, 2012

Occasionally I get phone calls from people asking me how they can “certify” or “register” their Emotional Support Animal. I tell them that there is no such process, however there is a validation.

The most effective method to officially validate your emotional or mental disability and legally qualify for an emotional support animal is to have a letter from your physician or mental health professional that prescribes or endorses your use of a “support animal.” For best results be direct with your physician, swallow your pride, and accept the fact that you are emotionally disabled – with or without your physician’s blessing. If your physician balks you must convincingly plead your case with your physician, finally asking your physician for a letter on their letterhead to facilitate traveling with your dog (or other animal) or for a specific housing-related need. It’s important to credibly describe the severity of your symptoms to your physician, and, for example, you might express how surprised and relieved you have been to discover that having your dog with wherever you go you has made successful functioning in public and private possible. And that, without the animal, you’ve been a wreck. Here are some examples of the symptoms you may be experiencing:

Examples of the symptoms of an emotional disability include, but are not limited to

An inability or difficulty to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships.

Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances.

A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression.

A tendency to develop physical symptoms or irrational fears associated with otherwise normal life problems or situations.

An inability or intense discomfort interacting with others in a public or private setting.

If your physician is unsure what to write, please contact me. I have sample letters that work in various situations.

Gunny, Rainy, Lucy, Squeaky and T.

{ 51 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kris 10.21.12 at 6:04 pm

I am very happy to find this site you’ve put together, and I hope to get my Dr. to fill out the ‘official form’ for the service animal. I have 2 cats, have had them for over 5 years, and had them both when I moved into this apartment. The manager knew I had them, as I discussed it with her before signing the lease. The ‘one pet per unit’ rule did not begin until about 2 years after I moved in. Currently, the manager is trying to evict me over my having two cats. I am extremely attached to these pets and would not be able to tolerate giving either of them away. (I have included the FaceBook page I created for them in the ‘Website’ link.) I am currently 10 days into the 30-day eviction notice, and it appears I will have to tell the manager that it will have to be taken to court. I am hoping getting the service animal form filled out might cause this issue to be dropped. Interestingly, my Dr. already had typed up a letter himself which said that my cats are my emotional support and cannot be taken away, and he also stated that he forbid me from doing the heavy work that is required to move out. What I don’t understand is that the manager seems to have ignored this letter, as she delivered the notice to me personally the same day she had received the letter. Is she allowed to continue with this, or is the letter my Dr. wrote valid?

2 sussie 11.01.12 at 10:06 am

What she is doing is illegal. You need to contact the Fair Housing Board in your area.

3 Amy 02.09.13 at 11:14 am

Could I have a “sample” letter to show my Dr when I go to request he write one for my cat? Thank you; and I appreciate the effort/website/all your help.

4 Karyn 02.20.13 at 6:08 pm

My 91 year old Mother needs a letter to her apartment – she is remarkable living alone in a retirement – as they want to charge her a large pet deposit and a monthly pet rent.
She loves her cat and needs the cat for support as she is elderly and feels useful taking care of her beloved cat.
If she had to give the cat up I am sure she would go into depression.
Can you send me a letter for her primary care Doctor to prepare for her, so she can give to her apartment management.
Thank you –

5 Kris 02.28.13 at 3:47 pm

Hello guys, I saw the new comments and wanted to wish you all the best of luck in winning your rights to keep companion pets, and at no extra cost! Right now, I have been unable to find ANY other apartment that will allow me to move in with 2 cats. Even WITH 2 letters from my Dr., a lawyer who has already WON THIS CASE for me and saying by LAW I have TWO companion animals, I have not found anyone else that will allow me to move in. They all say I am only allowed ONE pet, NO exceptions! But, for now, I at least WON this case, so my kitties and I get to survive each day with a little less stress. :)

6 Lydia 03.20.13 at 5:59 pm

I need a sample letter that will enable me to travel freely with my emotional support animal. Please get back to me as soon as possible. My physician is fine with the idea, but wants some help with verbiage. Thanks in advance, Lydia McCue

7 Lisette 04.05.13 at 10:03 am

Hi , i need help getting a letter. I live a stressful life with both my parents addicted to drugs since I can remember and always worried about them that I find comfort in having my little dog with me. I am 28yrs old now and have been dealing with this all my life. I am going to see my physician but need help talking to him. Your posts have helped me so far. I think I just need to build up more courage to be able to convey my issue to my phisician. Any comments or other ideas I will greatly appreciate!! Thank you!

8 michael hye 05.02.13 at 8:55 am

can you please send me a sample letter for a emotional support dog in my no pets condo. I do own the condo. My psych was unsure what to write but is in agreement that its what I need.
thank you

9 Christy Wyckoff 05.03.13 at 4:44 pm

:razz: Hi could you send me an example letter for my Dr. I see him on Monday sorry for the short notice. It would be a letter for flying and/or a general letter to cover everything like housing and what not.
Thank you so much

10 April Perry 05.09.13 at 12:51 pm

Can I please get a few letter examples as well. My dr. wrote me a letter but had to address to a singular airlines because she said it could not be made out to “whom it may concern”…. so if I travel with anyone else I will have to get a new one……

11 tammy cruz 05.20.13 at 10:19 am

coud you plz send me a copy of a letter to make sure the airline i fly will accept it……thnk you very much…….

12 sussie 05.21.13 at 7:41 am

No. Sorry. That is something your Doctor has to do. We do not supply the letter.

13 Scarlet H. 05.21.13 at 11:12 pm

Hello, your website has been really helpful! I am researching what I need to do to make my new pup an emotional support dog. I am personally training him and I want to make sure that I am doing everything legally. I know that ESA’s are not covered by the ADA but are accepted by airlines, housing and most businesses, but I am in recovery from Anorexia and depression and need a support dog. I do have some questions about the certification or registration….I keep finding these websites where you can register your dog and get the jacket and everything for a fee and my question is, are these legit? Also, I would really appreciate an example letter to show to my doctor. Thank you!

14 sussie 05.22.13 at 8:54 am

If you are suffering from depression then you should be calling our dog a service dog. Below is a list of mental disabilities that a service dog can be used for.

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

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.

15 Gale 06.11.13 at 7:26 am

Could you send me a copy of example letters. I have my dog for emotional support for depression and PTS. Does this mean I have the wrong tags for him. should I have service dog tags or can I just add something to his tag or vest?

16 sussie 06.11.13 at 10:14 am

You are correct. You have the wrong tags. The ADA states that a service dog can be used for the following mental disabilities.

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

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.

17 Meg 06.11.13 at 4:37 pm

Hello Sussie,

Could you possibly send me some example letters or some advice on how to get started with writing a letter to get an ESA animal accepted in an apartment complex? My psychiatrist isn’t quite sure where to start. The complex that I live in allows small cats and dogs, but it doesn’t allow any other kind of animal. My problem in this is that I want a rat as my ESA. I’ve never dealt with this before, so if you have an extra advice that would be great too.

Thank you!

18 sussie 06.12.13 at 9:20 am

Really all the letter has to state is that he/she is familiar with your disability and recommends an ESA for your treatment. It needs to be on his/her letterhead. That is really all that is required.

19 craig 06.17.13 at 11:39 am

hey could u send me a example letter please. im going to college next year and my ill be doing alot of traveling for what ill be going to school for and im really afraid its going to affect me cuz if i wont be able to travel wit my dog i might not take the course but i have alot of the disabilitie you have talked about. so i reallyhope it will help me in my situation. thanks alot.

20 Meg 06.28.13 at 9:35 am

Thank you!

21 jessica 08.06.13 at 5:13 pm

My dr is trying to write me a letter for a esa i was wondering if you could send me a sample letter because he dosent know what he should write in the letter email me at and put esa in subject

22 Laurie VanGelder 08.21.13 at 7:22 pm

Could you please provide me with a sample of an emotional support animal letter for airline travel?
Thank you!

23 Mary Gatzmeyer 08.23.13 at 10:14 am

Could you please provide a sample of an emotional support animal letter for airline travel? Is there a specific form that needs to accompany the letter?
Thank you.

24 Cathy Bernier 09.17.13 at 4:51 pm

My husband has a cat named Harley and he keeps him calm when he gets anxious or nervous. He is a Vietnam Vet with many emotional problems. And I would like to get letter for him to take his cat on air plane, thank you Cathy

25 Cathy Bernier 09.18.13 at 5:19 pm

Could you please send a sample letter for the airlines to help my husband to bring his cat with him. He is a Vietnam Vet with PTSD, anxiety and panic attacks having his cat with him helps him .
thank you Cathy

26 Pamela Carr 10.16.13 at 11:21 am

My psychiatrist will write me a letter to have a EMS dog, he just doesnt know what is suppose to say and where to send it

27 sussie 10.21.13 at 9:11 am

I am sorry but I am not familiar with a EMS dog so unfortunately I cannot help you.

28 Donna K 11.03.13 at 1:22 am

Could you send me a copy of example letters plz

29 Emma Benitez 12.03.13 at 5:25 pm

I need to write a letter that states that my mother needs her two cats for companionship and for her well being. ;-)

30 Catherine 01.02.14 at 5:07 pm

Hello everyone,

I have a ESA that was recommend to me a long time ago by a no longer practicing LMHP. I am looking for one that will write me a letter for my ESA but am having finding trouble finding one. Due to my financial situation I cannot afford to see a therapist for a long period of time that the ones I have contact require for a letter. I want to go to someone I know has recommended ESAs over drugs and would be able to write me a letter. Any where I can look for this info? I am in Los Angeles CA.
Thank you,

31 Savannah 08.19.14 at 9:56 am


I’m about to go through a military move with my husband and am talking with my doctor about an appropriate letter for housing. Do you have any examples you can provide me?

32 Sue 08.20.14 at 4:13 pm

Letter for Emotional Support Animal – Housing


NAME OF PROFESSIONAL (therapist, physician, psychiatrist, rehabilitation counselor)



[NAME OF TENANT] is my patient, and has been under my care since [DATE]. I am intimately familiar with his/her history and with the functional limitations imposed by his/her disability. He/She meets the definition of disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Housing Act, and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Due to mental illness, [FIRST NAME] has certain limitations regarding [EMOTIONAL ISSUE]. In order to help alleviate these difficulties, and to enhance his/her ability to live independently and to fully use and enjoy the dwelling unit you own and/or administer, I am prescribing an emotional support animal that will assist [FIRST NAME] in coping with his/her disability.

I am familiar with the voluminous professional literature concerning the therapeutic benefits of assistance animals for people with disabilities such as that experienced by [FIRST NAME]. Upon request, I will share citations to relevant studies, and would be happy to answer other questions you may have concerning my recommendation that [FULL NAME OF TENANT] have an emotional support animal. Should you have additional question, please do not hesitate to contact me.




33 Susan Anderson 09.09.14 at 6:49 pm

Would you please send me a sample letter that I could take to my doctor so that I could take my small dog with me on a flight back home.
Thank you very much,

34 Susan Anderson 09.09.14 at 6:54 pm

In addition to my last e-mail. What type of a letter do I need. Would it be for a service dog or emotional support dog? I suffer from extreme depression and have panic attacks. My dog gives me great relief with both of these problems.
Thank you again for your help,

35 Marvin Burt 09.15.14 at 5:48 am

Please send me a copy of the emotion letter. That cover all airline’s & hotel c& motels and fair housing.
Marvin Burt

36 christina guillory 10.22.14 at 6:11 pm

Please send me a sample letter! My daughters Doctor has agreed to write one for her, but I want to make sure all the important facts are covered.

37 Mary Hurst 10.23.14 at 7:58 pm

So thankful to have found your website. I have recently been diagnosed with a disorder which would qualify me to use my dog as a Emotional Support animal. I’m going to have to fly across the US in less than a month and found out I need a letter to present to the airlines. My physician is willing to provide me with a letter, but as some of the other people have mentioned…she doesn’t know where to start and is also quite busy. She said if I would “draft” a letter, she would make any necessary changes and put it on her letterhead. Would it be possible to get a copy of the Emotion Support letter you have successfully used? Thank you in advance.

38 Sandy 11.02.14 at 7:16 pm

I am currently undergoing chemo therapy and would like to have a ESA letter so I may keep my pet with me when needed. My doctor is willing to write a letter but I am not sure what he should put in it.

39 Paul Jessen 11.14.14 at 10:52 pm

Please send sample letters for support dogs, for my VA doctor.

40 Hailee 11.30.14 at 1:15 am

I am currently trying to move out of my parents house because it is not a good situation for me but I cannot stay home loan on myself because I get a migraine and start to have a panic attack I do not currently have a primary care physician and cannot affordA big doctors visit could my pastor from my church write the letter if he is considered my counselor who can write a letter for an esa dog I need more information about thisI am currently trying to get into an apartment close to work but they do not allow pets but the manager told me to get a doctors note for my dog but as I stated I do not have a lot of money to pay for a doctors visit who may I contact to get help getting a note

41 Grace 12.02.14 at 10:49 am

Hi! I am so happy to have found this website for help! Most internet searches just come up with the “packets” to sell to you.
I am very interested in these example letters. Could you please send to me asap, as I have an apt next week with my Dr. The last time I brought it up, the doctor looked puzzled and had never heard of doing this before.

42 Sue 12.02.14 at 4:42 pm

As long as the individual is licensed as a counselor in mental health then yes.

43 Wendy 01.16.15 at 6:06 pm

Could you please send me a sample letter for airline travel? My therapist says he never wrote one and isn’t sure about the contents. Thank you!

44 Katie 03.17.15 at 7:02 am

My niece as anxiety, depression and is bi-polor. We have been learning about ESA and is planning to speak to her therapist for an ESA letter. She has 2 very small dogs (less than 4 pounds each) and they both bring something to the table for her emotional support. She is in college and will need to move in May. With an ESA letter, can she be charged a pet deposit or even a monthly pet rent?

45 Sue 03.17.15 at 2:05 pm

If you are using your dog to control your anxiety, your dog is a service dog. The law states the following…

Partial List of Qualified Disabilities for use of a service dog:

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.

46 Chrissy 03.25.15 at 8:42 am


I have been diagnosed with both anxiety and depression repeatedly over the years. I was seeing a therapist for many years, but stopped seeing him about 6 months ago — just a couple months after getting my little pup. I thought if I wanted my dog listed as a service dog I would need to have him tested in some way. Is that not the case if I have depression and anxiety? Please advise. Do I just need a dr. note?

47 Sue 03.26.15 at 3:02 pm

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 for individuals with limited financial resources.

48 Milka 05.02.15 at 11:10 pm

Dear Sue, my regular personal physician will write for me the letter for service animal due to emotional problems, for my cat, the question is can she put he as a “service animal” because is a cat, or only dogs can be qualified for service animals? and can any regular physician write the letter or has to be specialized in mental health? Please I need this letter SOON so I ask you please to answer as soon as possible. Thanks a lot for your help!!! God bless

49 Sue 05.04.15 at 2:41 pm

The ADA laws state the following…

Beginning on March 15, 2011, only dogs are recognized
as service animals under titles II and III of the ADA.

50 El 05.08.15 at 7:13 pm

My current apartment allows pets and I recently have been diagnosed with a mental disability. The physician who wrote my letter the apartment complex is the owner of my dogs sister. She also lives in the same property but different building. Due to this connection, my apartment declined my petition for a n emotional support animal. I feel as though this is illegal, and not a sufficient ground to reject my petition. Do you have any information or resources on this? I’m concerned it may also be a racial discrimination as I am Asian and am one of the few Asians who lives here.

51 Sue 05.11.15 at 8:32 am

Contacted the Fair Housing Board in your area.

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