What is an Emotional Support Animal?

An emotional support animal is a type of support animal that helps ease the symptoms of mental or emotional disabilities such as depression, anxiety, social phobias, post traumatic stress and other mental health disabilities. Such assistance animals are typically approved by a licensed mental health professional as part of an individual’s treatment plan.

What is an ESA Letter for?

The certification takes the form of an official document called an emotional support animal letter, also known as an ESA Letter. This document confirms an individual has a legitimate need for the support their companion animal provides under federal law.

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Infographic credit: Ohio University

Will my companion animal be considered a service animal with an ESA Letter?

An ESA letter does not designate a companion animal as a service animal. Emotional support animals and service animals both provide assistance to their handlers, but they hold different designations under federal regulations and are entitled to different kinds of rights. ESA’s aren’t individually trained to perform tasks the way service animals are. As a result, their rights are limited when it comes to certain types of public access. Schedule an appointment to get your ESA today!

Frequently Asked Questions About Getting an Emotonal Support Animal in Ohio

Does my ESA have to be a dog?

The most common type of emotional support animal is an emotional support dog, and there are many popular dog breeds commonly used for their natural talent for providing emotional comfort, but there are no federal regulations stating that only dogs are permitted to provide this service. Emotional support animals can also include cats, rabbits, and other types of pets. The animal simply needs to be able to provide emotional support to an individual in order to be recognized as an ESA.

Does my ESA have to meet certain requirements such as size or weight?

An ESA can be any animal of any species without restriction to species, size, weight or breed. 

What is the Fair Housing Act?

The Fair Housing Act applies to both emotional support animals and service animals. It was signed into law in 1968 and protects people from discrimination during housing-related activities such as renting when it comes to race, religion, or disability. The Fair Housing Act ensures that an individual with a mental illness or mental disability does not experience housing discrimination because of their need for an emotional support animal or service animal. Housing providers must instead provide reasonable accommodations for these individuals and are not allowed to charge the individual any type of fee, such as pet deposits.

What do I need to give my landlord for my ESA?

Those with emotional support animals will need to present their landlord with an ESA housing letter to demonstrate their need for the animal’s support.

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Infographic credit: Ohio University

Who can I contact if my landlord does not allow my ESA?

There are local government agencies and other federal departments that work to ensure fair and equal housing opportunity for all, such as The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which provides comprehensive resources on tenant rights, laws, and protections.

Am I allowed to take my Emotional Support Animal on an airplane with an ESA Letter?

Unfortunately, emotional support animals are no longer covered by the Air Carrier Access Act. The ACAA once required airlines to allow ESAs to ride with their owners for free, but this has since been changed. Now, only service dogs are given this right. It is always good to check with your airline prior to booking your flight. 

Do I need to register my ESA?

No, you will not need to register your ESA with any national databases or registry sites. All that’s required to confirm that an animal is an ESA is a legitimate ESA letter signed by a professional licensed in mental health. Don't wait! Schedule an appointment to get access to an ESA today!

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Infographic credit: Ohio University

Does my ESA have to wear a special vest or harness?

No, you will not need to register your ESA with any national databases or registry sites. All that’s required to confirm that an animal is an ESA is a legitimate ESA letter signed by a professional licensed in mental health.

Can I take my ESA to work with me?

In the state of Ohio, it is up to the discretion of your employer. If you have a conversation with them and show your ESA letter, your employer may decide to allow it. There are no laws in Ohio that grant legal access to the workplace with your ESA.

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Infographic credit: Ohio University