3 Steps to Certifying a Pet as an Emotional Support Animal

You have probably seen a dog out in public wearing an ESA harness. These emotional support animals fulfill a specific role in the lives of people with mental health issues. They are more than just a pet. They provide comfort, support, and relief to those struggling with their mental health. 

Emotional Support Animals or ESAs aren’t something you can just get — there is a process you have to go through to obtain the right paperwork to certify your animal as an ESA. 

Wondering if you could qualify for an ESA? Read on to find out all the steps you need to take.

1. A Diagnosis 

The first and probably most important step toward getting an ESA is an official mental health diagnosis. If you already have one from a licensed professional, then you are already on your way. However, if you feel like you might suffer from anxiety or depression or potentially something more severe like PTSD, visit a professional for help. 

Once you’ve received a diagnosis, you can talk to your doctors about treatment options. Not everyone will qualify for an emotional support animal, but it might be worth talking about this as an option. Animals are well-known to be beneficial to people with mental health conditions.

If you have had mental health struggles for a while and other options like medication aren’t working as well as you’d hoped, have a discussion with your doctor about the alternatives, such as owning an ESA.

The key to this step is communication and a willingness to work with your mental health professional in order to get the best results for you.

2. A Letter and Prescription 

If it is decided that you would benefit from an ESA, you will need to obtain a letter and a prescription. This should be easy enough once you and your doctor have finished making decisions about your course of treatment.

3. Find the Right Animal

You now have your letter and prescription. The next step is finding the right animal for you. Many animals can be considered emotional support animals, but cats and dogs are the most popular choices. 

Here are some important things to remember when you are choosing your critter… 

  • They are not exclusively a pet. They are there to help you calm down, relax, and accompany you where you need them.
  • You need to have a good bond with the animal — whether that be through training or spending a lot of time with them, you need to have a strong connection.
  • Find yourself an animal with a temperament that you can get on with. You don’t want a loud barking dog if you find noises overwhelming (this can also impede their access to planes etc if you want to travel with them). You might want a playful cat so that you can have a distraction during the day.

All in all, the choice is yours to make. As long as the animal you choose has a calm temperament, is loving and affectionate, and behaves well in public, they’ll make a brilliant ESA. 

In Conclusion 

Certifying a pet as an ESA a bit of a process, but once you have gone through it, it’ll hopefully be a great relief. 

If you or anyone you know might benefit from having an ESA in their life, let them know what they have to do and get them to talk to a professional mental health advisor. It is entirely up to the individual and their doctor what is best for them, but it never hurts to check. 

If a cat, dog, or even a rabbit might bring a sense of purpose and calm to an individual’s life, then why not give it a try.


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Team Parle

The collective team of Parlé Magazine. Twitter: @parlemag

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