Dr. Joshua Shannon, Ph.D.

LMHC/S, NCC, SAP, MCAP, CEAP, CDMS, CRC, CSAS, ICADC, CCISM, MSCC, ASAM

ESA [Emotional Support Animal]

  • Emotional Support Animals [ESA] are specifically defined by HUD [with regard to housing accommodations under ADA] and there is a lot of misinformation about these animals and where they are allowed.
  • The ESA needs to be in good health/temperament, [this can be a certificate from your veterinarian as presented to the Mental Health professional, [a certificate of temperance on letterhead is sufficent]
  • The animal needs to be free of parasites and not a public health danger, per your veterinarian.
  • The person having an ESA must have a DSM-V Diagnosis from a licensed Mental Health Professional in the State that they live. The patient must have an active disabling diagnosis from the DSM-5
  • The person meeting the ESA requirements will get a letter that is good for one year, at the end of the year it must be renewed.
  • The ESA is not allowed everywhere in public, [ this is the biggest misconception ] the ESA designation is for Travel [this has been amended 01/11/21 by ALL US AIR CARRIERS, they no longer accept ESA letters, please check your specific airlines for associated rules and fees] and Housing, anywhere else is up to the business owner [I.e. restaurant, shopping mall, general public]

BEWARE

  • There are several sites that will "register" your animal as a ESA on their official looking website, and will provide a document saying the ESA is registered with them [THIS IS A SCAMThey offer Certificates that are bogus. [and most importantly not by a Mental Health Professional.]
  • The vests, and certificates provided by these "Organizations" are not valid and do not give the ESA owner any additional rights.
  • These websites also offer "registration for "Service Animals" this too is expensive and does not entitle the ESA owner to any extra privileges.

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