Emotional support dog certification must come from a human licensed mental health professional.
It’s a trick! Emotional support animals are not registered in any database. What you do need is a letter from your licensed mental health professional that you need an emotional support animal.
What Is an Emotional Support Animal?
An emotional support animal (ESA) is any critter that provides comfort, companionship, and relief for a person who has an emotional or mental condition. Canine ESAs help their owners cope simply by being present.
These dogs are not service dogs. Service dogs are trained to perform specific tasks to aid people with disabilities. Seeing eye dogs are the most common example, but there are countless other tasks that dogs can perform to help their owners navigate daily life. For example, a psychiatric service dog might be trained to remind the owner to take their medications or guide their person to safety during a panic attack.
Emotional Support Dog Training
No specific training or certification is needed for the dog to be an ESA. Emotional support dogs do, however, need basic training and socialization, just like any other dog, so that they are not dangerous or disruptive when out in public.
Service dogs are legally protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and can go pretty much anywhere with their handlers. Emotional support dogs do not count as service dogs because they do not have specific training, and they do not have the same legal rights.
The primary area where emotional support dogs have extra benefits is in housing. Landlords cannot bar you from renting with an ESA and can’t charge pet fees. Some businesses and restaurants may allow ESAs access where other pets are denied, but this can vary. Airlines are no longer required to allow ESAs to fly for free.
Emotional Support Dog Certification
Rather than any sort of certification, in order to have an emotional support dog you need an Emotional Support Animal letter from a licensed medical human-health professional.
What does this mean? It means that you need to be seeing a therapist, psychiatrist, or psychologist, and that professional must determine that you can benefit from having an ESA and write a letter stating that. This letter is what gives your ESA access to housing that doesn’t otherwise allow dogs.
There are many websites out there that advertise that they will register your dog as an ESA and sell you vests and badges. But these bells and whistles will get you nowhere without a legitimate ESA letter from a mental health professional.