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There are lots of rumors about emotional support animal registration and certification. There is no legal requirement to register or certify an animal as an ESA and there is no officially-recognized database or registry. There are multiple online fake registries and certification sites. The only legal way to make a pet an emotional support animal is to talk with a licensed medical or mental health professional a recommendation from them. CertaPet has a quick 5 minute survey to see if you would be a good candidate for an ESA and if you are, they will connect you with a licensed mental health professional in your state.
There are very few legal requirements which apply to an animal serving as an ESA directly. However, the animal’s handler must have the following:
- A diagnosed mental or emotional disability
- A written recommendation from a licensed mental health professional, which states the patient’s need for the ESA as part of his or her treatment.
An ESA is not required to have any formal training, aside from standard house-breaking and obedience training. However, in order to qualify for the travel and housing rights afforded to an ESA, the animal:
- Must not pose a danger to other people or animals, or exude threatening behavior, such as growling, lunging, etc…
- Must be housebroken
- Must not be a nuisance (e.g. excessive barking, damaging or destroying property, etc…)
Although it may be helpful to clearly distinguish an animal as an ESA there is absolutely no legal requirement to do so. Many airlines recommend adorning an ESA with a special vest and/or identification card, to help delineate the animal as more than a pet, but again, there is no legal requirement.