Getting An Emotional Support Dog

What Is An Emotional Support Dog?

An emotional support dog is a pet that provides comfort and relief to those with disabilities. These dogs aredifferent than service dogs because they do not perform tasks for their owners. Instead, they provide security and love which relieves at least one symptom of their owner’s disability. These animals are often used to help those with anxiety, mental or emotional conditions.

Service Dogs vs Emotional Support Dogs

It is important to understand the difference between service dogs and emotional support dogs, as they are very different. A service dog is categorized as medical equipment for their owners. They are trained specifically to perform certain tasks their owners cannot complete on their own. Some examples are seeing eye dogs that help their owners cross the street or dogs that help owners do chores around the house. Service dogs are permitted to go places most pets cannot go because their owners need their help.

These animals are prescribed to owners who need emotional support and stability. These dogs do not perform tasks for their owners, but simply improve their quality of life through emotional connection and support. Since the dogs are not required to perform tasks, there is no specific training needed. Unlike service dogs, these animals are not considered to be medical equipment but laws are in place that allows these animals to be with their owners. The Air Access Carrier Act allows support dogs to fly with their owners at no extra charge. Owners must have written proof from a licensed physician or mental health professional to qualify for this benefit. The Fair Housing Amendment Act of 1988 helps emotional support animal owners qualify for pet-free housing at no extra charge. No other entities such as motels, libraries, theaters or public areas must abide by these laws. In these areas, these pets are considered pets and have no additional rights.

What Are The Qualifications For Getting An Emotional Support Dog?

Those who want an emotional support must legally qualify to do so. A licensed mental health professional such as a psychologist, therapist or psychiatrist must write a prescription letter in the proper format. The letter must state the name of the patient, that they are under the care of the practitioner and the type of disability that exists. In addition, the letter must state how this disability negatively affects at least one activity in life. The practitioner must also clearly state they are prescribing an ESA as an essential part of mental health treatment. In order to be legal, this letter must be written on the practitioner’s letterhead and dated. The license number of the professional and the state in which it was issued is also required.

Serious mental or emotional health conditions are considered to be disabilities. You may qualify to obtain an ESA if you have one of the following conditions that depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, seasonal affective disorder and panic disorder. 


At Touch ESA, our mission is to raise awareness of the benefits of emotional support dogs and to provide an easy, fast, and affordable online assessment to determine ESA eligibility and a properly formatted prescription letter for housing and travel purposes. Live and travel anywhere with your dog by your side. For more information or to take a free assessment visit or call 414-807-8934.



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