Emotional support animals improve the lives of many Americans, offering a wealth of healthy companionship and company to people with mental health problems all across the country. People who suffer from psychological conditions including depression, insomnia, phobias, PTSD, and anxiety disorders benefit massively from the presence of a friendly emotional support pet in their lives. An emotional support animal has a special status that usually allows it to live with its owner in accommodation that would otherwise be “No Pets Allowed”. Emotional support pets are often also allowed to travel in airplane cabins along with their owners.
Who Can Prescribe An Emotional Support Animal?
To get an emotional support animal, or to have a pet designated as an ESA, a person needs an ESA letter. The requirements for this letter are very specific. Not all health care professionals are qualified to write an ESA letter. For most Americans, the health care professional that they have the most contact with, that knows them the best, and that they trust the most, is their family doctor. Many people have had the same family doctor for most of their lives. For a lot of individuals, visiting a new medical professional they have never dealt with before in order to get an emotional support animal letter can be a source of anxiety.
So, does a family doctor qualify to prescribe an emotional support animal?
A Family Doctor Can Prescribe An Emotional Support Animal
The good news is that your family doctor, provided they are a fully licensed primary care physician, can proscribe an emotional support animal. Your family doctor qualifies to write your emotional support animal letter, provided they are taking care of your mental health issues.
This means that for the many Americans who are most comfortable consulting with their familiar family doctor, there is no requirement to consult with an unfamiliar medical professional in order to get an emotional support pet. This is great news for people with anxiety and shyness issues, as well as for people in remote locations and for people with tight schedules.
Who Can Prescribe An Emotional Support Animal Besides A Family Doctor?
Apart from a family doctor, the other type of health care professional that can proscribe an emotional support animal is a licensed mental health professional. This can be a therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist.
Details Of An ESA Letter
An emotional support animal letter must come on the official letterhead of the family doctor (or other qualifying medical professional) who has written it. It must state clearly that there is a strong connection between the person’s mental health condition and the need for an emotional support animal.
Once You Have Your ESA Letter…
Once your family doctor decides that you would benefit from an emotional support pet, and writes a suitable ESA letter, you can then go out and find a suitable animal. The personality of a prospective emotional support pet is the most important detail to take into account. Most people decide to choose a friendly and sociable species such as a dog or cat. Other popular ESA species, due to their intelligence, sociability and gregarious natures, are potbellied pigs and domesticated rats. The crucial thing is that the emotional support pet you choose has a personality that vibes well with your personality. We are all unique individuals, so the ESA you choose will be bespoke to you.
If you have an existing pet, you can have that animal designated an ESA by getting an ESA letter from your family doctor. This allows your existing pet to enjoy the status and special dispensations afforded to an emotional support pet.
An ESA Letter Offers No Guarantees
Unfortunately, while an emotional support animal letter will enable your animal to have official ESA status, this does not always mean that the animal will be afforded the rights of an ESA. Certain landlords have successfully made the case that their property must remain pet-free, even in cases when an animal is a necessary emotional support pet. Certain airlines have also decided not to allow ESAs to travel with their owners. These situations usually occur on flights with non-American airlines where the departure and destination locations are both outside the United States.
Most airlines, including domestic airlines, will draw the line at emotional support animals that are too large, disruptive, dirty, or otherwise a burden on airline staff and other passengers.
The Species Of Emotional Support Animal You Choose Matters!
It is helpful to use the ESA letter your family doctor provides you with to get a sensible species of emotional support pet. A small, friendly and intelligent ESA dog will be allowed to live in the vast majority of apartments and buildings and fly on the vast majority of flights and routes. An emotional support rooster, on the other hand, will no doubt provoke a negative response from many landlords and airline staff members! So go and visit your family doctor, ask them to prescribe an emotional support animal, and choose your new best friend wisely.