Emotional Support Animals: What Are They & What Kind of Paperwork Do They Need?

Emotional Support Animals: What Are They & What Kind of Paperwork Do They Need?

What is an ESA? What protections do they have in the US? And what kind of paperwork do you need in order to travel or live with one?

(Please be aware that this is based on personal experience and is not legal advice. You should always double check the requirements and speak with your mental health professional before attempting to travel or get housing with your own ESA.) More (including Q&A): http://gigigriffis.com/the-skinny-on-emotional-support-animals/.

Looking for more info? Visit www.gigigriffis.com and drop me a line.

37 Comments

  1. This was very helpful. There is so much misinformation out there regarding having an therapy/emotional support animal.

  2. 415KrazyK – YouTube won’t let me reply to your comment, but all you need is the letter I talk about in the video, which has to be written by a mental health professional whose care you are under (meaning: someone who is giving you ongoing treatment for your disability). Anything you could get online wouldn’t be valid. At this time, ESAs don’t need to be registered or anything beyond the letter (though I’ve heard that soon training requirements are coming) and there are no breed regulations.

  3. Keep your fucking animals at home.  If you can’t travel or eat without your pet then maybe you should stay there too.  Pathetic.

  4. I have anxiety and depression really bad and autism! I’m getting a ferret soon for ESA! Thank you for explaining it!

  5. ESA isn’t allowed to go to public areas. they are not a SD. PTSD panic attacks and bi polar disorder. you can have a SD. instead of an ESA.

  6. I would like to get my daughter and Emotional support animal. I would like to know do it have to be a dog? Can it be a kitten.

     Also we stay in an apartment building. And for us to be able to have and animal in our apartment, we would have to pay a $400.00 fee which I can’t affords.

     Is it true if we get the papers the fee will be waved

    .My daughter has Aspergers(High function) Autism ADD,suicidal thoughts.

  7. Gigi, thank you so much for this video. It pretty much cleared up a lot of my questions. I thought I needed to register my dog besides having the letter from my psychologist. I can’t get over the fact that all the sites are trying to just make money off of a person’s disability. But then again, I shouldn’t be surprised.

    Been trying to do this since summertime and finally, you’ve given me the answer. Again, thank you so very much for your help. God bless!

  8. Hey gigi, im hopping to get my prescription for my dog so he can stay at my apartament. Hes being living here with me for 2 years now since he was a baby (schnauzer) and now the landlord wants to kick him out. We agreed that if i instaled new floors (wich i did) she would let me keep it. That was 2 years ago! Now she just wants my dog out… im not really disabled but i will be if i dont have my dog.

  9. I’m 16 and have sever anxiety diagnosed by proffesionals and I am on antidepressants too, I get anxiety attacks pretty often and I think I may benefit from an esa, do you think I qualify?

  10. I have a question when you get the ESA letter do they get you the dog or do you have to get the dog yourself, also do they pay for all the dog or do you have to?

  11. Hi Gigi,
    I need one, my psychologist is assigning me one. But I need to move. I know there are exemptions for housing. I think if the housing is less than 4 units? They are not legally obligated to accept your ESA. I am not sure. But can you let me know if you know what the housing rules are. I have to find housing that will except my future ESA but I live in Los Angeles and it is NOT pet friendly. Thanks. Love your video very informative.

  12. Why don’t they have the same rights? What if you have something like sever social phobia and you really need the support animal when you go almost everywhere and when you don’t have the animal it Is very difficult for you to get through you day?

  13. If your dog is an emotional support animal it is not a service dog and is not covered by ADA. Your ESA can live in public housing and fly. Other than that the ESA can become a service dog, but he will have to have been trained to DO SOMETHING go mitigate your disability. You can find all the info on that on the ADA web site.

  14. Do you know the rights of an ESA with a "condo-tel"? Can you rent on a lease or buy a condo in one since part of it is a hotel and part is condo housing? Do ESA laws apply in Hawaii? What do you know about travel to and more importantly from Hawaii with your ESA? Cruise ships?

  15. My mom had a stroke 4 yrs ago and we are now moving to FL (flying there). She is somewhat physically handicapped now as well as having emotional bad days. She does not see a mental health dr but does have a physician a DMO not just an MD that sees her on regular basis. If her Dr is willing to write a letter that our dog is an ESA (Which he is for both her and I. We got him after her stroke) will a physicians letter suffice or does it have to be from a psychiatrist?

  16. Hi I’m in Canada and is thinking of getting an esa, I’m glad to know that small dogs are an option. After getting your letter from your doctor where do you go to get an esa? Does your doctor guide you to where you need to go?

  17. Emotional Support Animals are wonderful for Depression, Panic Attacks, and PTSD. See your Psychiatrist and get a letter for your Emotional Support Animal. By Gregg L. Friedman MD

  18. I am a single young woman and I can’t sleep at night or be alone in the house due to panic attacks and bipolarity unless my dog is there to keep me calm, divert my attention and guard me… i have debilitating phobias that I couldn’t get away from without my dog.  Thank you for this information!

  19. my apartment complex allows pet but is apparently challenging my doctors letter and continues to mistake him for a service dog, he’s met the health requirements and I am ensuring that he behaves well but my apartment complex manager asked me for a second letter stating that he is trained to perform tasks, please help, I can’t lose my Chuck

  20. Can an ESA go into all public places like a service animal would or is this just for travel and housing?

  21. I am currently looking for an emotional support dog. I plan to not only have her as a companion but i want to train her as a therapy dog and take her to hospitals and elderly homes. Please help me by visiting my gofundme https://www.gofundme.com/moneyforkensie. Just read my story you dont have to donate.

  22. hey, my dog is registered as an esa. I was wondering, can you take your esa wherever you go? Most of my anxiety comes from traveling far. So, like trips to the zoo, or other recreational places, would they be allowed?

  23. Hi Gigi Griffis I recently went to an online website to register my dog as an esa the website states if they need more info then they would send for it. they issued her a registration number with her photo and an id card.  I am a disabled veteran if I didn’t get a letter yet but am diagnosed with more than one of the requirements is she still valid since I registered her online.

  24. @aututakikuuipo I am not familiar with condo-tels, but I assume they’re bound by the same laws. You can always call and ask to speak to their disability department and ask.

    As for Hawaii, taking an ESA is the same as taking a regular animal. You’ll need to go through their lengthy paperwork process (takes about 6 months) – you can contact a USDA-certified vet for info on the latest paperwork. As with all other flights, ESAs are allowed to fly to Hawaii in cabin and free of charge. All other requirements still apply.

    And yes, Hawaii, as part of the US, has the same ESA laws as far as I know.

    As for cruise ships, there are no special allowances as far as I know, but you can always contact individual cruise lines to find out if they make exceptions and talk to your vet about requirements for USDA import/export if you are going to Hawaii or somewhere outside the US.

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