Many people commonly confuse or interchangeably misuse the terms service animal, emotional support animal, assistance animal, and a therapy or psychiatric animal. The key to understanding these differences pertains to three important U.S. federal laws: Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), and Fair Housing Act (FHA).
Click here for more frequently asked questions pertaining to service animal and the ADA law.
The chart below distinguishes between these the different terms and identify the applicable federal laws:
An ESA (Emotional Support Animal) is a U.S. legal term for an animal that provides therapeutic benefit to its owner through companionship and affection. Emotional support animals do not need to be trained to ameliorate disability as psychiatric service dogs are. They require only as much training as an ordinary pet requires in order to live peacefully among humans without being a nuisance or a danger to others.
According to the Fair Housing Amendment Act, a landlord should not discriminate against any individual who has documentation from a mental health professional illustrating their need for an emotional support animal in housing. Housing Providers must provide a “reasonable accommodation” for persons with disabilities under both the Fair Housing Act and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1974, according to the US department of Housing and Urban Development.
There are many instances where lawyers have sued and won cases against landlords for discriminating against ESA dogs. Most landlords will reluctantly agree to allow the pet, even after giving you grief at first. The customized ESA Letter TheraPetic provides you will be sufficient for your housing needs.
The Fair Housing Amendment Act of 1988 establishes a procedure for modifying “no pets” policies in most types of housing to permit a person with a disability to keep an animal for emotional support. In housing that allows pets but charges supplemental rent or deposits for them, these fees must be waived. The ESA’s owner can be charged for actual damage done by the animal, but they may not require the applicant to pay a fee or a security deposit in order to keep the animal.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity investigates complaints from the public alleging denials of reasonable accommodation requests to live with assistance animals.
TheraPetic is committed to ensuring your experience with us will be successful by providing your ESA Letter or documentation provided by TheraPetic. In the rare instance that an airline or landlord discriminates against you, then you are encouraged to file a report with the appropriate enforcement agents. Check out more information in our Discrimination section.
An Emotional Support Animal is prescribed to individuals with anxiety, stress, depression, and post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) most of the time. This animal can only accompany a member in their home or apartment. This includes apartments or homes that are not “pet-friendly.” ESA dogs are allowed under the Federal Housing Amendment Act to be made exceptions to strict no-pet policies. ESA dogs may also be allowed on commercial air flights, provided that they present their ESA letter well in advance of departing on the aircraft.
There is quite a big difference between a service dog and an emotional support animal. First and foremost, a service dog is prescribed as a treatment by a mental health professional to assist heavily disabled donors, usually as a “seeing eye” companion for the blind. A service dog can also be taken anywhere, such as a bank, an airplane, a grocery store, and even court! ESA dogs are not afforded this privilege.
People who want a pet companion for travel on trains or airplanes, or want to have them be allowed at their home or apartment, despite their landlord or property managers “No Pet” policy will be ideal candidates for emotional support animals, not service dogs.
Yes, but it is advised that you check with your airline prior to travel. However, The Air Carrier Access Act does establish a procedure for modifying pet policies on aircraft to permit a person with a disability to travel with a prescribed emotional support animal so long as they have appropriate documentation and the animal is not a danger to others and does not interfere with others (through unwanted attention, barking, inappropriate toileting, etc.). Some airlines require additional documentation as well. TheraPetic can help you with this as well.
No. Emotional support animals are only intended for in home companionship, whereas service dogs are given unique access to both private and public establishments. Does having an ESA exempt me from pet deposits in housing? Yes. Having an emotional support animal exempts you from all pet deposits, regardless of whether the facility allow pets or not. If a landlord is asking you to put down a deposit for your ESA, he is breaking the law!
In theory, any donor is free to consult with their primary care physician regarding their need for an emotional support animal. However, 9 times out of 10, donors will run into a doctor who does not believe in the therapeutic benefits of having a dog, cat, bird or other pet as part of their treatment for their insomnia, stress, or anxiety, just to name a few. These physicians are more likely to prescribe you pharmaceutical medications, especially since different ESA documentation is required for different airlines. Furthermore, it’s important to keep in mind that these doctors are going to require some sort of a payment up front, usually a copay, and most of the time, you will get denied. TheraPetic exists because all of our mental health professionals see the therapeutic benefits of animal companionship to help cope with everyday conditions such as depression, insomnia or stress. Not to mention, when you visit TheraPetic.org, you only donate for services if you are approved, so there is a zero risk for both your time and your money. Visit our terms of services for more information.
For all donors who provide a nominal donation for services, you will instantly receive your official Emotional Support Animal Letter with a 1-year expiration date (this is required by law). In the event that you need your letter updated with a current date due to requirements of your landlord or an airline, this will be made available to you at no additional cost - this is why TheraPetic is here for you. You will not need to be reevaluated or take any other screenings to see if you qualify again.
You will receive your Letter for your Emotional Support Animal with a 1-year expiration from the day it is issued. If you need this updated in the future, you will need to be to come back and make another donation to renew your letter or required documentation.
Most definitely! Yes, our network of evaluating clinical practitioners are licensed mental health professionals. Visit About Us for more information on TheraPetic as a nonprofit organization.
Unfortunately many phony websites claim to provide ESA letters or register your pet as an ESA. As a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping you save money and give you the resources you need instantly, we need to charge a nominal fee to maintain our services. The fee for one year with unlimited access to resources and personalized ESA letters does not exceed $149. Many discounts and offers are provided to help you save more money and have some peace of mind.
Your ESA letter will be written on the letterhead of TheraPetic, which is a nonprofit organization registered to provide mental health services and support. The ESA letter will be signed by a mental health professional after your qualification assessment is evaluated.
Your landlord or property manager can verify your letter by calling the verification number that is included on the TheraPetic letterhead signed by a licensed mental health professional. This is the verification phone number of the mental health professional that issues your Emotional Support Animal Letter. Your landlord will simply leave a message with the first and last name of the member he or she is trying to verify and someone will contact them to verify your letter.
Unfortunately due to the difficult nature of being reimbursed by insurance companies for Emotional Support Animal exams, we regret that we are not able to accept medical insurance at this time. TheraPetic is nonprofit organization dedicated to donors, like you, to have an instant way to be supported, affordable, and most importantly confidential.
Each member may choose any of the plans offered. Please see the different plans offered here to find the one that best fits your needs.
For your convenience, we accept the suggested donation for services by MasterCard, Visa, American Express, or direct bank payments through PayPal or Amazon.
Believe it or not, Emotional Support Animals have been legally recognized by the US government since the late 1980′s. Up until recently, ESA’s have been flying under the radar due to a lack of knowledge of the Fair Housing Amendment Act. Over the last few years, the media has really put ESA’s in the national spotlight with many articles educating people on the merits of ESA’s. TheraPetic is the only nonprofit service in the country to provide a simple, 3 minute qualifying screening to the general public, which is fully HIPPA compliant and provides instant documentation to donors. With a countless number of satisfied ESA donors, TheraPetic is now growing to be a nationally recognized brand.
TheraPetic is 100% a legitimate nonprofit organization that stemmed from other online companies taking advantage of honest people looking for the the proper documentation to help cope with their anxiety and stress while they live and travel. What makes us authentic and true: we provide the most up-to-date ESA Letters and documentation for people, especially with airlines. For example, American Airlines and United Airlines require a specific document to be completed each time you fly, which is their way around so many fake websites on the internet giving people the wrong sense of encouragement. As far as our research has showed, no other company offers this detail of documentation. Yes, the mental health assessment was simple and easy and compliant with online HIPPA compliant standards, so we know you will feel confident and secure with us!