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Fake ESA Letters and How They Can Ruin Your Vacation

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If you have an emotional or mental disability, you know that it can be extremely challenging. However, many people do not recognize that these types of disabilities can be just as life-altering as physical disabilities that are easier to see. Because of this, many people do not understand why someone with a mental or emotional challenge would need an animal to help provide support and comfort and to treat their disability. Because of this, many landlords and airline personnel are still resistant to the idea of Emotional Support Animals and do not want to give them the consideration they deserve under the law and fake ESA letters add some heat to the topic.

Fortunately, the U.S. government does recognize the importance of ESAs and how they effective they can be in treating those with emotional and mental challenges. That’s why they have developed laws to protect individuals who have valid ESA letters for their pets. These laws fall under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) which set forth laws regarding living arrangements and air travel. The FHA states that those with ESAs cannot be denied housing, even if there is a no pets policy. The ACAA states that those traveling with ESAs can keep their pets in the cabin with them during air travel and that no additional fees will be issued.

However, to benefit from these laws, you must have a valid ESA letter provided by a mental health professional or licensed Medical Doctor. Many people make the mistake of getting letters online that are not valid and will therefore not be accepted by landlords or airlines. A fake ESA letter is not only a waste of time and money, but it can also have very negative consequences on your living arrangements or travel plans.

How a Fake ESA Letter Ruined One Woman’s VacationEmotional Support pets - victims of fake ESA letters

I was in a very bad car accident six years ago. Though I was not badly injured physically, I lost someone very dear to me and have suffered from anxiety and depression ever since. I have been to a therapist regularly since my accident and early on he suggested I get a cat who could act as an Emotional Support Animal to assist with my therapy.

I did not know a lot about ESAs at the time, so I asked my therapist how I would find an ESA and how I could train a cat. Not only was I unfamiliar with fake ESA letters, I also had never owned a pet before and was unsure how to care for one.

My doctor assured me that cats are very easy to care for and that no training would be necessary for the pet to qualify as an ESA. He told me that having a companion animal would be very beneficial to my treatment and that it would be well worth any care or work I would have to put into it. My therapist suggested I visit the local animal shelter to find the perfect cat. Though I was hesitant at first, all of that changed when I met Boots.

Boots was one year old at the time I adopted her and has been my main source of comfort and love in the past six years. She has always provided me with unconditional love and I find that caring for her needs often helps me put aside my own anxiety and depression and focus on doing things for her. She has helped me cope with my problems in hundreds of different ways and I could not be more grateful to my therapist for suggesting I bring Boots into my life.

Taking Boots on Vacation

Boots goes everywhere with me, so when I decided I needed to take a vacation, I knew she would need to accompany me. Though I always viewed Boots as an Emotional Support Animal, I had never actually gotten a certified letter since I owned my own home and did not need to prove that Boots was a therapy animal. However, I knew that I would need one of these letters so that Boots could travel with me in the cabin of the airplane.

Looking back, I should have gone through my therapist to get the letter, but he was out of town and I was in a hurry to book my vacation. I looked up all the laws and regulations related to airport travel and found an online service that promised a quick and inexpensive turnaround for an ESA letter. I quickly paid my fee and received my letter a few days later, just in time for my trip.

With my letter in hand, Boots and I traveled to the airport, ready for a long weekend of sun and fun in Florida. Little did I know how much trouble awaited me.

When I was asked for my ESA letter so that Boots could travel with me in the airplane cabin, I quickly handed it over. It became clear that something was wrong, though, as the airline attendant scrutinized it longer than expected and then directed me to a manager. The manager informed me that the letter I had did not meet the guidelines for a verified ESA letter and was not in line with their airline policies. It was clear, it was a fake ESA letter.

It turned out that the online service I had used did not have any mental health professionals or MD on staff. Because an ESA letter can only be issued by a licensed Medical Doctor, my letter was useless. Not only had I wasted my money, but I had also potentially ruined my vacation.

ESA letters must, according to federal law, show a valid diagnosis of emotional or mental disability. This diagnosis has to come from a mental health professional who has examined you or gone through your medical records to arrive at this diagnosis. The letter also has to state that your ESA is an assistive aid and is a major part of your ongoing treatment. My letter had none of the requirements and would therefore not be accepted by the airline.

Instead of getting a quick fix online, I should have gone to my own therapist or I should have done more research to find an online service that had therapists on staff.

A Better Service

Boots and I did not get to travel to Florida that day. However, it was an important lesson that I will never forget and it led me to find an online service that provided valid ESA letters. By doing proper research, I was able to locate a service that had licensed mental health professionals on staff and that created letters that were fully recognized by all domestic airlines. I knew that if I wanted to book another vacation and have Boots accompany me, I had to do it right.

The service that I went with not only had certified mental health professionals that I could independently verify, but they also conducted an online mental health screening. This screening is a necessary part of the ESA process as only those who qualify for assistance can get a valid letter. It was clear to me that the service I had chosen was legitimate and that they did business the right way. I knew that with my new ESA letter, I could travel anywhere with Boots and never again have to worry about repeating my embarrassing and frustrating experience.

How to Tell if an Emotional Support Animal Letter is FakeHow to Tell if an Emotional Support Animal Letter is Legit

Spotting a fake ESA letter is not difficult once you know what to look for. Here are some red flags that the online ESA service you are considering using is not valid.

  1. There are no licensed mental health professionals or MD on staff.

Emotional Support Animal letters, according to federal law, must be written by a licensed mental health professional such as a therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, mental health nurse practitioner or licensed Medical Doctor. If you cannot verify that one of these professionals has written your ESA letter, it may very well be invalid. Check with your specific state to see which types of licensed medical and mental health professionals can provide a legit ESA letter.

  1. The LMHP or MD does not have a license to practice in the USA.

Even if the online service has licensed mental health professionals on staff, the letter they provide may still be invalid if the professional does not have a license to practice in the US. Landlords can reject ESA letters if they are not written by those who have valid licenses in one of the states. Before you purchase an online ESA letter, ask for proof that the LMHP or MD writing the letter has the right license.

  1. There is no screening and doctor-patient interaction process.

If an online service promises quick approval and review of your online ESA application and does not conduct an in-depth screening process and you never speak to a doctor, your ESA letter will likely be fake. Under federal law, you must have a health screening by the licensed doctor writing your ESA letter for it to be valid. That is why many individuals get letters written by the LMHP or MD they are receiving therapy from. However, it is still possible to get an online letter from a Medical Doctor you have not seen in person. To do so, however, the service must do a thorough check of your health records to determine if you have a valid mental or emotional disability and that you would benefit from an ESA. 

  1. The service refers to ‘registering’ your pet as an ESA.

Pets cannot be registered as Emotional Support Animals and you cannot purchase a ‘registered ESA’. In fact, no legitimate ESA registry exists. If the service you are working with offers to register your pet or asks you to sign up for a registry, they are very likely a scam. Your ESA is not required to be registered anywhere. For it to qualify as an Emotional Support Animal and to receive the benefits from housing and airline personnel, you must only have a valid ESA letter from a licensed medical doctor.

Be warned that many fake services can sound very legitimate as they use language such as ‘United States registry’ or ‘national registry’ and can have a very convincing argument about why you need to register your pet. They may also offer a framed certificate or ID tags for your pet to confirm their ‘registration’. While these may seem like bonuses, be aware they are not necessary and are likely an indication that you are working with a service that is not legitimate.

  1. They have no customer service after your letter is sent.

If you work with a reputable service, you will be able to contact customer support even after your valid ESA letter has been issued. If you need help with verification, if you have an issue with a landlord or airline not considering your letter valid, or if you have any other questions, the service should be available for assistance. If the company you work with disappears after your letter is sent or do not respond to questions, they are likely a scam.

At EzCare Medical Clinic, we provide our patients with legit ESA prescription. Our licensed ESA doctors are providing legit Emotional Support Animal Letters which are valid in all states. Please visit ezcareclinic.com/esa to apply today or call us at (415) 966-0848 to schedule your in-person or online ESA visit.

Learn more about the research results and the effects of pets on mental health, anxiety, and depression at HABRI.


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Emotional support animals follow their owners to areas that are off-limits to other pets. This is because they’re recommended as a treatment for mental afflictions like anxiety, depression, even PTSD. Not to be mistaken for service animals. The main distinction is its functions. Apply for ESA Letter Today! BOOK AN APPOINTMENT While ESAs are companions, service animals help their disabled handlers with duties such as answering the door, carrying medicine, and guiding their movement. ESAs don’t need extra conditioning like their service counterparts whose training ranges from heeling, proofing, and performing specific tasks. Another difference is their certification. Your disability should match the ADA description for your service animal to be recognized. Conversely, an ESA letter is provided by your therapist. How ESAs Improve Your Travel Experience By lifting your mood, support animals eliminate the need for anxiety medication on your journey. Pills may be effective, but you’ll still have side effects like fatigue and nausea. Furthermore, they act as distractions during long trips. Instead of worrying, your mind is occupied by the animal. The fact that you have another creature to care for besides yourself gives you purpose. They thought of bonding with your pet may make an otherwise reserved person crave for adventure. ESAs also spark conversations between strangers. This is especially true for moments packed with tension like turbulence. Travel Necessities for Your ESA Traveling with their handlers gives ESAs an edge over ordinary pets. If you think moving with an animal is stressful, try it with a mental condition. Here are some trip essentials regardless of your mode of transport. Things to pack while travelling 5 Things to Pack While Travelling 1. ESA Letter An ESA letter is mandatory for any support animal in a plane cabin. For the document to be valid, however, it must fulfill the following specifications. The letter is on your issuing therapist’s letterhead. You’re currently under a licensed professional’s care. The letter contains the license date, type, and issuing state. Your illness is found in the DSM. You need the ESA for the trip or destination. The document requires an annual update. Ensure you alert the airline beforehand. Initially, you could show up with your pet without an announcement. The rules have since changed with most carriers requiring a 48-hour notice. Again, check your destination’s guidelines regarding support animals. Not all countries allow ESAs from foreign lands. 2. Travel Crate Apart from transportation, a travel crate protects your furry companion from harsh conditions like snow and rain. You’ll have to train your ESA if they’ve never experienced a carrier. In the initial stages, don’t lock the crate with the animal inside. The idea is viewing it as a safe space instead of a punishment. Likewise, put the case in the room your pet spends most of their time. Putting treats in the cage or feeding them next to it will keep your ESA interested. You can add blankets and toys to give the container a homely feel when on the move. Similarly, secure the cage to the seat or hold it to prevent the ESA from shifting. While at it, ensure your support creature gets sufficient air to prevent suffocation. You can do this by ditching the layovers during summer and getting a container with better ventilation. Although they come in different sizes, some animals are too big for a carrier. That’s where leashes come in. Apply for ESA Letter Today! BOOK AN APPOINTMENT 3. Leash The crowds in airports and train stations are bound to stress your ESA. That’s why you need a leash to guide their movement and protect other travelers together with their belongings and animals from attack. But your pet isn’t the only cause of danger. For starters, your unrestrained dog might get run over if it wanders away in a bus station. It could also contract diseases after sniffing another animal’s droppings. Chains also make it easier to locate you in case your ESA gets lost. Most leashes include a tag for writing your identification details. Moreover, the restraint also makes your pet harder to steal. From resale and breeding to ransoms and fighting rings, animal theft is motivated by several reasons. Most importantly, the law demands you leash your animal. Games to play with dog How to Keep Your Dog Entertained on a Road Trip? 4. Bedding Repay your animal’s emotional support by keeping them comfortable. Though the airline can organize a special seat on request, your pup will be more settled in familiar bedding. If your pet doesn’t have a bed already, prioritize the quality of materials when shopping. Substandard fabrics are not only uncomfortable but also less durable. The size is also crucial. While a small bed will tire your ESA, a larger one is difficult to move. Even so, some models have straps and clips for portability. Surfaces that absorb moisture will develop an odor from the animal’s urine. This calls for a mild water-repelling spray. Apply for ESA Letter Today! BOOK AN APPOINTMENT At EZCare Clinic, we recognize the role of ESAs in your psychological wellbeing. We specialize in numerous areas, for example, addiction treatment, nutrition, cosmetic services, pain management, mental, and sexual health. You deserve to live free, reach us for an appointment today.