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Emotional Support Animals: Fact vs. Fiction

There are a lot of assumptions out there about emotional support animals, whether it be about how you can obtain one, what exactly they do or how helpful they really are. Today I would like to combat some of those assumptions by breaking down what is fact and what is fiction.

The Myth: Anyone can get an Emotional Support Animal

The Fact: Getting an emotional support animal is not as simple as some make it out to be. You need a letter from a licensed doctor, therapist or psychiatrist. That letter must include an explanation of why you need an ESA and the doctor's name, contact information, and license number. There are websites that will sell you online letters, but these get a lot of flak (rightfully so) for being a scam. They don't always meet all of the requirements for an ESA letter. Your best bet is to get a letter from your doctor.

The Myth: You can take your Emotional Support Animal anywhere.

The Fact: ESA's are unlike service animals in that you cannot take them anywhere. Some people do take them with them wherever they go, but legally an ESA doesn't have the same protections as a service animal. You can, with the right documentation and paperwork, take your ESA into your own housing situation (i.e. your apartment), a hotel, on a plane or to the airport. You cannot take your ESA to a random restaurant because you 'felt like it'.

The Myth: Emotional Support Animals are trained to care for their owner.

The Fact: This is another instance where people confuse ESA's with service animals. ESA's are not trained, or at least they don't have to be trained. Some people do train their ESA's and have their ESA's trained, but it is not a requirement when obtaining certification.

The Myth: Emotional Support Animals don't actually do anything, they're just a way for people to take their pets anywhere with them.

The Fact: Many studies have proven that ESA's can be very beneficial for their owners in combating emotional and mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. ESA's dispel feelings of loneliness and hopelessness in their owners.

The Myth: You can get an ESA letter easily online with a few clicks.

The Fact: In order to do things correctly and by the book, you need to obtain a diagnoses and a certification letter from a licensed doctor. You cannot get a diagnosis with a few clicks online. Period. If there is an online website claiming that you can do that, they are a scam and housing management companies might end up rejecting your ESA letter.

I am always open to answer your questions about ESA's and what is fact vs. fiction within this topic. You can reach me via my contact page on this website or at kaylajdahl@gmail.com.