ESA: What does it stand for? What does it mean?
The word ESA gets thrown around a lot, but do you know exactly what an ESA is? An ESA is an emotional support animal. ESAs are a type of assistance animal, different from a service animal or a therapy pet. Emotional support animals help those with a diagnosed mental disability like anxiety, depression, and PTSD by providing comfort. ESAs help people cope with their disabilities and improve their mental health.
In order to get an ESA, a person must have a qualifying mental disability and an ESA letter, explaining their need for their ESA from a licensed mental health professional.
ESAs and the ADA, FHA, and ACAA
Quite a few acronyms surround emotional support animals. The first big one is the ADA,
which stands for the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA is a civil rights law that
protects those with disabilities from discrimination. Those with disabilities must have equal opportunity and be provided with reasonable accommodation in public accommodations, employment, transportation, and telecommunications. Under the ADA there are are two additional laws specific for emotional support animals:
FHS: Fair Housing Act
The Fair Housing Act prevents those with an emotional support animal from discrimination in housing for having an ESA. Under the FHA, landlords and housing associations are not allowed to deny housing because a person has an ESA. They also can not charge a pet fee or a pet deposit.
ACAA: Air Carrier Access Act
The Air Carrier Access Act requires airlines to give reasonable accommodations to those
with an emotional support animal. ESAs are allowed to sit on their owner’s lap or in the
space in front of their seat during flights. No pet fee is allowed. Airlines are becoming more restrictive as to what type of pets are allowed in the aircraft cabin due to other passenger’s safety and what documentation besides an ESA letter is required.
How to Get an ESA
If you have a diagnosed mental disability like anxiety, depression, OCD, or PTSD and you
have a pet that gives you support, you may be eligible for an ESA. The first step is to take
the Certapet 5 Min Pre-screening to see if your mental condition meets the criteria, then you will be put in touch with a licensed mental health professional in your area. All you
need is a letter from your LMHP specific for housing and the airline you will be traveling
on. There is no training or certifications required.
Emotional support animals are a type of assistance animal for those with a mental
disability. ESAs provide comfort and support to help cope with the symptoms of specific
disabilities. The Fair Housing Act and the Air Carrier Access Act protects you and your emotional support animals.
In order to get an ESA, you must have a qualifying mental condition and a letter
from a licensed mental health professional. If you have anxiety, depression, or another
mental condition and your pet helps improve your mental health and well-being, they may be able to be your ESA.