Frequently Asked Questions
Emotional Support Animal Overview
An emotional support animal is an animal that provides comfort to alleviate symptoms or effects related to a person's disability. It's important to note that emotional support animals are not the same as service animals, such as seeing-eye dogs. Service animals have more stringent criteria, including specific training and ongoing certifications, and may have breed or animal type restrictions. In some cases, service animals may need to wear identifying garments to avoid confusion with emotional support animals.
To understand the rules and regulations regarding emotional support animals and qualifying ESA letters in your state, it's best to check with your local state government agencies. Each state has different guidelines regarding where you can bring your emotional support animal, such as restaurants, shops, or movie theaters.
To qualify for an emotional support animal, you must have an emotional or psychological condition that can be alleviated by having a supportive animal around you. Such conditions may include depression, anxiety, insomnia, paranoia, and others. However, only a licensed mental health professional can determine if you meet the criteria for an ESA. At certifiedservicepets, we connect you with licensed mental health professionals in your state who can assess your eligibility.
Once you have consulted a licensed mental health professional and obtained your own ESA Letter, the next step is to choose which animal will serve as your emotional support animal. The animal can be of any breed or species, whether it is a pet you already have or a new one that you plan to adopt or rescue. There is no need to go to a specific breeder or location to find one.
Certainly. There is scientific evidence that demonstrates how animals can offer significant and measurable emotional support to their owners. This is why the US Government has incorporated provisions for emotional support animal certifications in its fundamental laws relating to housing, travel, and the ADA. If you're considering the advantages of having an emotional support animal, you can conduct research online or speak with qualified mental health professionals in our network to learn more.
Yes, both federal and state laws mandate that an individual seeking an ESA Letter must undergo a live consultation via phone, video, or in-person to assess and determine their eligibility. The letter provides certain privileges for keeping an animal in a place where pets are typically not allowed, so there are specific criteria that must be met to qualify for one.
An emotional support animal can be of any breed or species as long as it provides support for an emotional or psychological condition. However, it's important to note that emotional support animals must still adhere to local laws regarding ownership of certain exotic animals. For example, bats, alligators, hedgehogs, skunks, and other species are illegal to own in any capacity in the United States and cannot be designated as emotional support animals.
Under the Fair Housing Act, housing providers such as landlords or management companies must allow individuals with qualified medical disabilities to possess animals that work, provide assistance, or perform tasks that benefit them, or that provide emotional support to reduce symptoms or effects of their disability. To qualify for an emotional support animal, an individual must speak with a licensed mental health professional in their state and receive a prescription for an ESA Letter, following specific criteria relevant to the type of support needed.
Although the Fair Housing Act and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development do not provide specific guidance regarding ESA letter expiration, it is recommended to renew your ESA letter annually for several reasons:
-An expired ESA letter may not be recognized by clinicians, landlords, or property managers when verifying your need for an emotional support animal. Therefore, an annual consultation with a licensed mental health professional is recommended to ensure that your ESA letter reflects your current needs and circumstances.
- Landlords or property managers may refuse to accept an expired ESA letter as evidence of your need for an emotional support animal. Renewing your ESA letter annually provides up-to-date documentation that verifies your need for an emotional support animal.
Our consultation process makes renewing your ESA letter easy and seamless.
After obtaining a valid ESA Letter, your landlord must comply with the Fair Housing Act and permit you to live with your designated emotional support animal in your place of residence. In case your landlord has any doubts or questions about the letter provided by our service, you can refer them to our team or the licensed mental health professional whose contact information is listed on your individual letter.
To clarify, certifiedservicepets is a provider that offers a 100% Money Back Guarantee for two reasons: (1) if you do not qualify for an ESA letter after your consultation, or (2) if your landlord does not accept the letter after filing a complaint with HUD. Our refund and cancellation policy ensures that our licensed mental health professionals can allocate their support effectively to those in need. Once you place your order, there is a $30 administration fee if you request a refund before signing the LHCP consent form. After signing, your order is non-refundable, except in cases where you do not qualify for an ESA letter as determined by the licensed mental health professional, or if your landlord does not accept the letter after filing a complaint with HUD.
For California residents, there is a new law, AB 468, effective January 1, 2022, which requires establishing a client-provider relationship for at least 30 days before providing documentation for an ESA letter for dogs. This will result in two consultations before qualifying. If you cancel and request a refund after your initial consultation at least one business day before your second appointment, you will be charged a $50 administrative fee; otherwise, your purchase is non-refundable. The 100% money-back guarantee still applies if you do not qualify for a letter, or if your landlord does not accept it after filing a complaint with HUD.
Legality of ESA & Our Company Overview
Yes, unfortunately there are fraudulent sites claiming to offer ESA Letters that do not comply with US federal and state laws. The most common type of fraud involves sites claiming to certify service animals without proper testing or accreditation. The US government has taken action against such fraud and offenders can face hefty fines or jail time.
To avoid such scams, watch out for the following:
1- Lack of a physical address - Many fraudulent websites are based in China, so ensure that the site has a valid US address.
2- Hidden domain name ownership - Legitimate services should have transparent domain name ownership. Use tools like WHOis.com to verify the identity of the site's operator.
3- Lack of live consultation - Legitimate ESA Letter providers are required by law to ensure that you speak with a licensed mental health professional over the phone or video. If a service only asks you to answer questions using a quiz or exam without scheduling a live consultation, it's probably a scam.
4- No contact number - A service with no direct phone line may also indicate a fraudulent operation.
5- No support after receiving the letter - Legitimate services offer some level of support after you receive your letter. This could be to answer landlord questions or to follow up with the mental health professional about your emotional support animal.
Our network of licensed mental health professionals is available near you - All of the mental health professionals in our network are licensed to practice in your state and are updated on state-mandated standards for their area of practice. The therapist we pair you with will be located in the state where you reside and will be fully qualified to provide you with an ESA Letter if you meet the criteria.
Phone consultation with a licensed professional - Once you place your order, a licensed mental health professional will contact you for a live phone consultation to establish a therapeutic relationship. This will allow the mental health professional to legally and medically prescribe you an ESA Letter through our service.
Compliant and valid ESA Letters - If you are prescribed an ESA Letter, it will be issued directly from the licensed mental health professional you speak with, and will include their license number and contact information. The letter will be on their official letterhead and will include all other necessary elements within the body of the letter to make it fully compliant.
Possessing an ESA Letter enables you to keep an emotional support animal of your preference in any housing you choose to reside in, regardless of whether pets are permitted by the landlord or management company. If the landlord raises concerns, you can refer them to the Fair Housing Act, which specifically outlines this. With an ESA Letter from us, your landlord cannot refuse your request to keep an emotional support animal.
We prioritize your health – As a team of licensed mental health professionals and pet lovers, we are committed to ensuring your well-being and the well-being of your furry companion.
Compliant and certified ESA Letters – Our operations are carefully designed to comply with federal and state laws in all the regions where we provide our services. You can trust that our ESA Letters are fully compliant and meet all the necessary standards.
Ongoing assistance – Although most landlords are aware of the requirements outlined in the Fair Housing Act, we are always available to provide support and answer any questions you may have. You can rest assured that we are here to assist you with any concerns you may have.