Emotional Support Animal Letter

What type of animal can an ESA be?

An Emotional Support Animal (ESA) is an animal which is prescribed by a doctor or licensed mental health professional to an individual with a disability. The ESA’s purpose is to alleviate one or more identified symptoms or effects of an individual’s disability. Ideally, the person with the disability should have an established relationship with a mental health provider prior to being prescribed an ESA, and the person should be receiving some sort of ongoing treatment (e.g., therapy or medication) in addition to the ESA.

What is an Emotional Support Animal?

Any type of animal could be considered an ESA – a dog, cat, rat, snake, etc. They do not have any special training and Per the Fair Housing Act, ESAs are only permitted within the owner’s dwelling; however, airlines may permit certain types or sizes of ESAs to travel on an airplane, and only to certain locations. Since an ESA does not carry out tasks associated with daily living, it is not required to accompany a person with a disability at all times. Because ESAs are only permitted within the handler’s residence, vests or badges are not usually necessary.

Do I need to register my Emotional Support Animal, purchase a certificate, or get a vest?

There is no centralized ESA registry or registration process (no, that listing that appears in your search results is not required and is not a valid way to claim your animal is an ESA!). Vests, ID tags, etc. are not required for Emotional Support Animals, although they may be helpful if you are accessing air travel with your ESA.

What rights are given for Emotional Support Animals?

Emotional Support Animals do not have specialized training and do not carry out tasks associated with daily living, and, therefore, they are not required nor permitted to accompany a person with a disability at all times. Per the Fair Housing Act, ESAs can be requested as a reasonable accommodation and permitted within the owner’s dwelling. Under the Air Carrier Access Act, airlines may permit certain ESAs (which meet the airline's requirements for age, type or size) to travel on an airplane, and only to certain locations.

What Emotional Support Animal policies apply for an assessment or letter?

Stone Counseling & Consulting Services offers select assessments or evaluations, including disability and emotional support animal assessments. Assessments may include any combination of clinical interview, client screenings or assessments, and/or records review from other treatment professionals. In cases of Emotional Support Animal or Disability Accommodations, it is counselor’s duty to determine whether client is assessed to meet the legal definition of having or being regarded as having a “disability,” and to identify whether related criteria are met, prior to rendering any decisions. It is important to understand that you may not qualify. It is also important that you be fully informed about what this decision and determination means for you, and what your rights and responsibilities are, should you decide to utilize and/or disclose this information to a third-party for any reason.

 

For disability and/or emotional support animal accommodations, some organizations such as colleges/universities may have specific requirements related to evaluation, the length of treatment, etc. It is your responsibility to consult with the organization regarding their requirements and to fully understand those requirements.

 

These assessment services are available only to individuals who are established counseling clients with Stone Counseling & Consulting Services, or an established client at another mental health practice with recent documented clinical records released to business/counselor from their primary clinician. To ensure a full assessment, first-time mental health clients are not eligible for this service until they have completed at least 3 appointments. Clients who are established at another mental health practice and have released records to counselor may be able to be assessed in less than 3 appointments.

 

Disability endorsement, Emotional Support Animal letters, and/or assignment of reasonable disability accommodations by an organization cannot be guaranteed by business/counselor and are subject to applicable laws, rules, and/or policies/procedures. Emotional Support Animal letters are typically considered valid for one year. Recommendations for continued treatment or other options will be provided by counselor. Client should seek legal counsel or representation as needed.

Looking for more info about Emotional Support Animals?

Check out my ESA blog posts!

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Rebecca Stone, LMHC is a licensed mental health counselor in the state of Florida
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Stone Counseling & Consulting Services, LLC is a mental health counseling/therapy and consultation service run by Rebecca L. Stone, a licensed mental health counselor (LMHC) in the state of Florida. The office is conveniently located in Lake Mary, FL, which is easily accessible for clients in the surrounding areas: 

Seminole County: Alaqua Lakes, Altamonte Springs, Casselberry, Chuluota, Fern Park, Forest City, Geneva, Heathrow, Lake Mary, Lake Monroe, Longwood, Oviedo, Sanford, Wekiva Springs, Winter Springs, Seminole State College (SSC)

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