It has become increasingly common in the last few years to see animals in public places that were once animal-free. And while part of this has to do with society being more accepting of animals in general, most of the reason for the increase can be attributed to a rise in service animals and emotional support animals.
Service Animal or Emotional Support Animal?
There is a very real difference between service animals or emotional support animals. In order to qualify as a service animal, a dog is typically trained from a young age to assist a person who may have a specific disability. Some service dogs help as a guide for people who cannot see well, others are trained to sense when someone is going to have a seizure. There are even dogs that are trained to help someone who experiences symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
To qualify as a legal service dog, it must be trained to do something that directly helps someone with a disability. Such animals are allowed by law to go wherever the general public goes including on public transportation, into buildings and any other place that is open to the general public.
An emotional support animal, on the other hand, does not need to have any type of special training. Their job, as defined by the ADA is to “provide companionship, relieve loneliness and sometimes help with depression, anxiety, and certain phobias”.
Emotional Support Animal Letters
An emotional support animal letter is a document that can be provided by a licensed therapist or mental health professional in San Francisco or in other parts of the United States. This type of letter states that an animal is medically beneficial to the owner. In order to prescribe an emotional support animal, a doctor or therapist must first be willing to certify that someone has a verifiable disability. Then, the person can qualify for special kinds of protection given by the US government.
Common Questions about Support Animal Letters
Who Can Qualify for an ESA Letter?
Anyone who has been diagnosed with a psychological or emotional disability may be able to qualify for an ESA letter. Some of these disabilities include:
General Anxiety Disorder
Social Anxiety Disorder
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Does an Emotional Support Animal Need Training?
Unlike service animals, emotional support animals do not need any specific training. Instead, they simply need to help a person to be able to function despite their level of disability. The better trained your support animal is, however, the more tolerant others are likely to be.
Can an Emotional Support Animal go Everywhere?
In most places, you can take an emotional support animal with you because it is illegal for places that are open to the general public to deny access to people with disabilities. Even if a restaurant or museum has a sign saying “No ESA Animals”, it is illegal for them to even ask why you have a support animal. The ADA website states “you may not insist on proof of state certification before permitting the service animal to accompany the person with a disability.”
Make sure to check the most recent rules for emotional support animals on airlines you may be flying with or any hotels you will be staying in to make sure you bring the correct ESA paperwork.
How long is a Support Animal Letter Good For?
Emotional Support Animal letters are typically valid for a full year, though be aware that some scam websites say that they are able to offer a letter that is good for a lifetime. ESA letters expire because the diagnosis and prescription must be renewed periodically just like any other type of prescription.
Is an Owner Required to Answer Questions about an Emotional Support Animal?
Though business owners of all types may be curious about your animal and wonder if it truly has a right to come everywhere with you, there are only two questions they are legally able to ask. First, they may ask if it is a service animal that is required because of a disability. Second, they are allowed to ask what service the animal has been trained to perform. Beyond that, they are legally required to allow the animal to go wherever the general public goes.
Does an Emotional Support Animal Need to Wear an Identifying Collar or Harness?
There is no requirement that an emotional support animal wear a special harness or collar, though this type of identification may help business owners or others around you to know that the animal is there for your support and not just as a pet.
Do I Need to Have my Animal’s Identification Papers With Me at All Times?
It is also not required that you carry your emotional support animal’s letter with you all of the time as it is illegal, according to the ADA for anyone to insist on seeing proof of your diagnosis/prescription. Again, at most, people are allowed to ask if your animal is a service animal that is required because of a disability and what service it is trained to perform.
Be Informed, Be Prepared
Understanding why an Emotional Support Animal letter in San Francisco is important is the first step to making life just a little bit easier. And though there are many internet sites that say they can provide an ESA letter, many are fraudulent. The qualified doctors at EZCare Clinic in San Francisco can help you to get going on the process of legalizing your emotional support animal, so you can be sure to have it with you when it is most needed.
Patients may call or schedule an appointment online to get an emotional support animal letter. We also offer an online ESA application, which is legitimate and signed by licensed California doctor. If you think you may need an emotional support animal, no matter where you live, don’t hesitate to reach out.