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How to get an Emotional Support Animal

How to get an Emotional Support Animal

If you’re wondering how to get an emotional support animal, there are things you can do to make getting one a possibility. Many people who think they do not qualify for one can actually get one. You might be surprised at how easy it really is!


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Here’s what you need to know about getting an emotional support animal.

There are a few key things that emotional support animals are that are directly related to what they do to help people who struggle with emotional disabilities. When you’re figuring out how to get an emotional support animal, there are some things you should keep in mind.

An emotional support animal is not a pet- they are there to help you cope with day to day issues including triggers and other emotionally disturbing things.


An emotional support animal is not a service animal- they do not perform a specific duty, they are there to support you day to day.

Even though they are not a service animal, they do fall under the reasonable accommodation laws in most states. This means you might be able to have your ESA at a place of employment and while traveling. It might make it easier to have your animal in other circumstances where you might not be permitted to have a pet.


While there are certain breeds of animals that work as service animals, there are no laws on which breed they can be. The same is true for emotional support animals. They do not have to be a specific animal or a specific breed to be considered an ESA.

Keep in mind: while we (and the law) do not recognize an emotional support animal as a pet, it’s not unreasonable for you to think of your animal as a pet. Many people who have an ESA bond with it in a way that’s very similar to bonding with a pet.

Who qualifies for getting an emotional support animal?

People with different types of disabilities can qualify for an emotional support animal. If you have a disability that comes with emotional side effects and you do not qualify for a service animal, you may be able to get an emotional support animal.

Simply working with a doctor and getting help on a regular basis isn’t enough to qualify for an ESA. One of the first steps to get an emotional support animal is working with a mental health professional. There are some instances where a general practitioner or another provider might be able to issue a letter for an ESA, but it might be best to get your letter from a mental health practitioner if you want to fly with the animal.

This list is not exhaustive and may not apply in every situation, but here are some common disorders that might qualify for an emotional support animal:

  • Anxiety-related disorders (generalized anxiety, panic disorder, etc.)
  • Severe depression
  • PTSD
  • Learning disabilities
  • Personality disorders

Many people who have other disorders that have a direct impact on emotions could qualify for an emotional support animal!

Wondering how to get an emotional support animal? Try these steps!

When you’re trying to figure out how to get an emotional support animal, there are a few steps you can use. Follow them here!


1. Qualify

You will need to qualify for an emotional support animal through your mental health professional. You will need a letter from them. Keep an eye out, though! Not all letters are created equal so make sure your mental health professional knows you need one for an ESA!

2. Support

Most people who have registered emotional support animals choose to use an animal they already have for emotional support. For example, if you have a dog who already lives with you, you might be able to register the dog as an official emotional support animal. There are also resources, clubs and organizations that might help you find an animal who fits well with your emotional needs that you can then register. 

3. Prepare Your Home

Your home should be ready for an emotional support animal. If you have any pets or children in your home, make sure they’re prepared for a new animal to enter your home. Be sure to have all the items you need to make sure your emotional support animal can help you out.


4. Animal Care

Caring for an emotional support animal might be different from caring for a pet, but it’s still important you have everything you need to take care of the animal in your home. Be sure you have a space for it to relieve itself and a clear place where you will keep food.

Can you live with your emotional support animal?

Perhaps one of the biggest reasons people begin looking up information and learning more about getting an emotional support animal is so they can have the animal in a housing situation that does not generally allow pets. The number one thing to recognize is that ESAs are not pets. They are there to support you.

Each state may have different laws on what an ESA can do, but they are generally protected in housing situations. While properties might vary what they allow, having a letter from your mental health professional might be able to help you have the animal in your home even if you’re not allowed to have pets.

Even though laws may vary by state, in general, a landlord cannot require you to remove your emotional support animal or pay a “pet” deposit on the animal since it is not a pet. As long as you have proof of your animal being an emotional support animal, you should be protected under reasonable accommodation laws.

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Here are our favorite tips for getting an emotional support animal.

Avoid referring to your animal as a pet. Whether you think of the animal as a pet or an animal that’s helping you out, referring to it as your emotional support animal is a great habit to get in.

Finding an organization is one of the easiest ways you can get an emotional support animal. It can help you keep up with all the options you have with your animal. The organization might also help you understand what you can get from having an emotional support animal. Try to find one that’s free!

Other people who have emotional support animals can help you find the best way to take care of it. Whether you join a community in your town or online, you can get a lot of support from people in similar situations to you!

Watch out for these things when getting an emotional support animal.

Don’t push your limits with your emotional support animal! Many people have heard of the story of the emotional support peacock on an airplane. Many people don’t doubt that the person with the animal needed it. There were steps she might not have taken before bringing it to the airport! She might have even been able to fly with the animal if she had taken the appropriate steps. Some emotional support animals are automatically allowed onto a flight, but less common animals are evaluated on a case by case basis according to the government transportation authority.

You do have rights as a person with an emotional support animal but you also have a responsibility to follow guidelines for bringing your animal places with you. Don’t push the limits!

Each state has different laws on emotional support animals. They might also have different rights associated with emotional support animals. Know the laws in your state. Also know what you’re entitled to as a person with an emotional support animal. It might even be a good idea to keep a hard copy of the laws in case anyone is uninformed. If someone questions whether you can bring your animal in certain situations, you’ll have a copy to show them!

The easiest way to get your emotional support animal taken away is not taking care of it. No matter what, you must make sure your animal is fed and that you take care of the animal! They deserve water, food and a place to relieve themselves. It’s a good idea to take the animal to the vet. You should also keep up with any recommendations for the animal.

Want more help? Find your state!


Lynaia Nowlin

Thursday 27th of January 2022

I need help figuring out what to do. I suffer with mental illnesses as well as physical disability. As far as mental illnesses I suffer from severe social anxiety, PTSD, and severe bi polor 1 disorder, Physical disability is stress induced seizures. I would like to know if a service dog can also be an ESA it should I get one of each? Add what's the difference between a psychiatric therapy dog and an ESA? I had a miniature schnauzer for over ten years that was an amazing emotional support animal. But she also knew when I was about to have a seizure she would go get my husband or anyone that was there to help me. She also knew when I was having chest pains and would notify my husband of any signs of trouble. Funny thing is she never went to any kind of training fur anything. I got her from a friend as a 7 month old that had been abandoned twice. She was my best friend and stayed either right next to me making sure she was touching me somewhere or in my lap. I considered her as much one of my children a my own human kids were. Unfortunately she passed away two years ago and my mental state is going down hill again. My nightmares are back, seizures and becoming more and more frequent, I'm not sleeping much. sometimes I don't sleep all night and only for about an hour or two in the morning after the sun comes up. I'm getting to where I don't want to leave my bedroom let alone my house. I prefer to be alone most of the time and when someone calls even family when they tell me they're thinking about stopping by I make up a story so they won't come over. Like I tell them I'm not feeling well, it I have been exposed to COVID and don't want to take a chance of making someone sick. I've been on almost every medication known to man and nothing helped. All it did was make me sleep all the time. I stopped taking everything. Taking in my mini schnauzer was a life saver.


Thursday 10th of February 2022

Low Income Relief is an information service and does not provide cash or items directly. You will need to search our website for information about organizations that can help you meet those needs. Chat with Lira, she might be able to help!

Christine Castro

Thursday 18th of February 2021

My daughter has Epilepsy with grandmal seizures often. She also has PTSD from being kidnapped and sexually assaulted. She had a dog she relied on but he died from being hit by a car. He was not a special service dog but I now realize how much she needed him. We can't afford the expense special dogs but really need to find a service that can help us. Thank you

Hannah Benge

Friday 26th of February 2021

All of the resources we currently know of are on this list. Have you checked to see if any of these will help? We are so sorry for all you're dealing with!-Hannah

Shirley Bertsch

Wednesday 23rd of December 2020

WOULD like to get a dog for emotional support now for Christmas

Hannah Benge

Wednesday 23rd of December 2020

I hope the resources listed here help! Having an emotional support animal can be so helpful!-Hannah


Wednesday 3rd of June 2020

Your article says: "Finding an organization is one of the easiest ways you can get an emotional support animal. It can help you keep up with all the options you have with your animal. The organization might also help you understand what you can get from having an emotional support animal. Try to find one that’s free!" Please give me a link/s to these organizations both nationwide (if they exsist) and in my state of NY (I live in Erie county). There are many, many adoption/rescue organizations (I belong to several), but they don't waive any adoption fees, even though I need an ESA to STAY ALIVE (I frequently become suicidal). I don't want to know about LAWS in my state or the US-- I need FUNDING! Can't afford the $350-$250 adoption fees. I am on social services, living BELOW POVERTY. Please, please connect me with an organization/person(s) that can help me. I want to keep on living so I can get better. I am severely mentally ill. Thank you kindly for any help you can give me. JLF

Hannah Benge

Sunday 7th of June 2020

Check out some resources here! - Hannah

Lisa Nelson

Tuesday 27th of August 2019

So, to get an ESA pet, I would just need to talk to my mental health therapist? Because I will be moving into my own place in a month and I have severe mental health issues, and would benefit from having an animal. So, all I need to do it talk to my therapist?

Riley Thomson

Monday 2nd of September 2019

Lisa, Talking with your Mental Health Therapist is where you start. Yes! -Riley