Touch Emotional Support Animal Assistance is committed to the full protection and confidentiality of all patient information in compliance with Federal Laws. Pursuant to CFR §164.506 airlines are only permitted to verify the authenticity of your prescription, however, we are not permitted to reveal any other personal information without your express consent. Additionally, we do NOT ask for or collect personal credit information such as social security numbers or driver’s license numbers.
Unfortunately due to the difficult nature of being reimbursed by insurance companies for emotional support animal exams, we regret that we are not able to accept medical insurance at this time. In light of this, we have tried our best to make the approval process as easy and as affordable as possible.
What forms of payment do you accept?
We accept the following payment types: Discover, Visa, MasterCard, and American Express.
When checking out you list a qualifying condition, and when possible, include comments about your disorder. Over 99% of potential patients qualify, and if you do not qualify through the survey, one of our clinicians will call to speak with you. Your card is never charged until the clinical psychologist approves you as a patient.
AM I EVALUATED BY A LICENSED CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST?
DOES TOUCH COMPLETE AIRLINE FORMS AS WELL AS FORMS FROM LANDLORDS?
Absolutely, we do!
Purchase your emotional support letter for housing from Touch, or view our payment plans to get an affordable ESA prescription. If your landlord requires you to fill out their form, just check the purchase option, send us your form, and our psychiatrist will complete your housing form.
Telepsychology is the delivery of psychological services using interactive audio or audiovisual electronic systems where the psychologist and the patient are not in the same physical location. The interactive electronic systems used in telepsychology incorporate network and software security protocols to protect the confidentiality of patient information and audio and visual data. These protocols include measures to safeguard the data and to aid in protecting against intentional or unintentional corruption. However, these electronic systems may not comply with HIPAA, the federal medical privacy law. Potential benefits include increased accessibility to psychological care and convenience.
I have the right to withhold or withdraw my consent to the use of telepsychology at any time. The laws that protect the privacy and confidentiality of medical information also apply to telepsychology. I understand that the information disclosed by me during the course of my consultation is generally confidential, except under certain circumstances where disclosure is required by the law (i.e., where there is a reasonable suspicion of child, dependent or elder abuse or neglect; and where a client presents a danger to self, to others, to property or is gravely disabled). The computer technology used by the assigned Psychologist is encrypted to prevent the unauthorized access to my private medical information but I understand that there are risks and consequences from telepsychology, including, but not limited to, the possibility, despite reasonable efforts on the part of the psychologist, that the transmission of my information could be disrupted or distorted by technical failures; the transmission of my information could be interrupted by unauthorized persons; and/or the electronic storage of my medical information could be accessed by unauthorized persons. I understand that telepsychology service may not be as complete as face-to-face services. If the psychologist believes that I would be better served by another form of psychological services. I will be advised who can provide such series in my area. I understand that I have a right to access my medical information and copies of medical records in accordance with HIPAA privacy rules and applicable state law.
I understand that I am responsible for (1) providing the necessary computer, telecommunications equipment and internet access for my telepsychology session: (2) securing information on my computer; and (3) arranging a location with sufficient lighting and privacy that is free from distractions or intrusions for my telepsychology session.
I HAVE DAMAGED/LOST MY ORIGINAL LETTER. HOW CAN I GET A NEW ONE?
Once the physical ESA letter is shipped to you, you will be the only one with the original copy of the letter. You may continue to share your digital copy with airlines and landlords even if you damaged/lost the original letter. However, if you would still like a letter with the therapist’s signature in ink, we can process this as an optional document. Please email us at [email protected]
An emotional support animal (ESA) is a person’s pet that has been prescribed by a person’s licensed therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist (any licensed mental health professional). The animal is part of the treatment program for this person and is designed to bring comfort and minimize the negative symptoms of the person’s emotional/psychological disability.
What does ESA mean?
ESA is short for Emotional Support Animal. An Emotional Support Animal is an animal that provides therapeutic support to its owner and is protected by the Air Carriers Access Act (ACAA) and by the Fair Housing Authority (FHA).
All domesticated animals may qualify as Emotional Support Animals (cats, dog, and birds) and they can be any age (young puppies and kittens, too!). These animals do not need any specific task-training because their very presence mitigates the symptoms associated with a person’s psychological/emotional disability, unlike a working service dog. The only requirement is that the animal is manageable in public and does not create a nuisance in or around the home setting.
Does my pet qualify as an emotional support animal?
Any pet can qualify as an emotional support animal if the person with disabilities gets comfort from the animal and can facilitate in the person’s needs.
Is my pet an emotional support animal/ how to make your pet an ESA. Does your pet provide therapeutic benefits? Is your dog or cat’s companionship helping you get through your emotional, mental and psychological disability? Emotional support animals (ESA) do not require any specific training to be able to provide comfort or emotional support. However, ESA’s should have the basic training that allows them to function well around people and other animals in public.
How does one get a therapy dog for anxiety or other psychological disorders?
To have your dog qualify as an Emotional Support Animal (therapy dog) a licensed mental health professional must determine whether the animal provides therapeutic value to its owner. If you do not have your ESA evaluation letter yet, you can sign up for an assessment with one of our mental health professionals. They will complete a psychological evaluation to determine whether you qualify for an Emotional Support Animal.
HOW TO QUALIFY
For a person to legally qualify for an emotional support animal (ESA), he/she must be considered emotionally disabled by a licensed mental health professional (therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, etc.), as evidenced by a properly formatted prescription letter. Some airlines and property managers will accept a verification form completed by a family doctor, however. The letter should state that:
You are currently his/her patient
Are under his/her care for the treatment of mental disability found in the DSM IV or V (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, version 4 or 5).
Your disability substantially limits at least one major life activity
He/she prescribes for you an emotional support animal as a necessary treatment for your mental health.
In addition, the letter must be dated, written on his/her letterhead, include his/her license type, number, date of license, and state in which the license was issued.
WHY HAVE I NEVER HEARD ABOUT THIS TYPE OF SERVICE BEFORE?
Believe it or not, Emotional Support Animals have been legally recognized by the US government since the late 1980′s. Up until recently, ESA’s have been flying under the radar due to a lack of knowledge of the Fair Housing Amendment Act. Over the last four years, the media has really put ESA’s in the National spotlight with many articles educating people on the merits of ESA’s. With a countless number of satisfied ESA owners, Touch ESA is now growing to be a nationally recognized brand.
A companion or emotional support animal may be prescribed to help alleviate a diagnosed mental health condition such as depression, anxiety, social phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder or other emotional or psychological disorder that may be considered an emotional disability or mental impairment. The disabled may have a mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment.
A qualified therapist may also determine that you suffer psychological consequences of a traumatic incident, such as a motor vehicle accident or crime by psychological evaluation and require an animal to alleviate symptoms of psychological and emotional disabilities to facilitate normal daily functioning.
The animal must serve the purpose of coping with a disability in such a way that it is required. Your emotional support animal does not have to be trained to have specific functional skills for mobility or medical response as service dogs do, but they are required to have good temperaments for traveling or housing purposes. They are not considered service animals under the Americans with disabilities act. For example, if your dog is trained to respond to anxiety attacks by fetching your medication, and is not a pet, then your dog is considered a service animal under the ADA. But, if your dog is a well-behaved pet who brings therapeutic comfort for your psychiatric disorder, then it qualifies to be your emotional support or companion dog.
IS PTSD COVERED?
Yes, PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) is covered under ADA laws and as long as your service dog is able to calm you during an anxiety attack then he/she is considered a service dog.
MY DOG IS VERY LARGE. DO EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMALS HAVE A SIZE LIMIT?
No, there is no size discrimination allowed when it comes to service dogs and ESA’s. ESA’s come in various shapes and sizes and airlines are required to allow ESA dogs to accompany you to your seat regardless of its size. There is no size limit for service dogs.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN A SERVICE DOG, AN EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMAL AND A THERAPY DOG?
Please click here or click here to learn more about service dogs, ESAs and Therapy dogs. Learn more at Service Dog Central or Please Don’t Pet Me (http://pleasedontpetme.com/differences.php)
What’s the difference between an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) and a Service Dog?
Emotional Support Animals (ESA) are animals that provide therapeutic benefits to their owner through affection and companionship. A Service Dog is specially trained to perform a task to help someone with a disability. A seeing eye dog is one example of a Service Dog. Unlike a Service Dog, an emotional support animal does not need specialized training to handle a task. Further, Emotional Support Animals come in different breeds and animal types and are not just limited to dogs, while Service Animals are either dogs or mini horses.
No. Since emotional support animals are not trained and are still pets, there is no need to register or certify your pet. The only document you need is an ESA letter for the pet’s owner from a mental health professional (therapist or doctor).
How do I register my pet as an emotional support animal? Do I have to register my emotional support animal?
You are only required to present a valid letter detailing why you require an emotional support animal with you from a licensed mental health professional. Registering your ESA in any database is not required by law.
What type of proof should I have with me when traveling or moving into a new house with my Emotional Support Animal?
The Law requires all ESA’s to have a Letter which written by a mental health professional. The letter states that the Emotional Support Animal provides therapeutic value to its owner and verifies the validity of the ESA.
Is an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) required to wear any identifying clothes or a harness?
Federal law does not require Service Dogs or Emotional Support Animals to wear any type of clothing or harnesses. However, we strongly encourage this since harnesses, leashes, patches and identifying items cut down on the hassles and unnecessary explanations when in public. We have found that these products drastically save time and frustration.
Does My ESA Need An Emotional Support Animal Vest?
A person who is assisted by an emotional support animal must have a properly formatted letter from a licensed mental health professional. That’s all. The ESA letter must state that the animal’s handler has an emotional or mental disability identified in the DSM V, and that the animal helps mitigate specific symptoms of the handler’s disability. The letter is all that is required. To reiterate however, an ESA vest made of a brightly-colored fabric, such as red or orange will help identify your pet as an emotional support animal. It is NOT required.
Do emotional support animals need special training similar to a service dog?
Emotional support animals do not require specialized training. However, they do require a therapist letter in order to be considered valid. Service Dogs require specialized training because they perform a specific task for their owner such as acting as a seeing eye dog or calming someone down who has PTSD.
Can cats and other animals be Emotional Support Animals?
Yes, any animal that provides therapeutic value can be considered an Emotional Support Animal. However, cats and others cannot be considered Service Animals. The Service Animal designation can only belong to dogs and miniature horses.
Only Emotional Support Animals and Service Dogs are allowed to travel in the cabin of an airplane. Many airlines will ask that you notify them in advance when travelling that an Emotional Support Animal. We recommend informing the airline immediately after booking that you have an ESA with you and let them know that your dog will be traveling with a doctor’s letter when you arrive at the airport. Some airlines require travelers to submit their Emotional Support Animal Evaluation Letter before travel. It’s always important to understand the specific airline’s rules before you travel. Download our 2018 PDF Guide to flying with your pet for your prep checklist at home and for each airline.
Is an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) allowed on a plane?
An Emotional Support Animal may fly in the cabin of a commercial or private airline with their handler and the handler is not required to pay a pet fee. Airlines require an ESA prescription letter from a licensed mental health profession as well as advance notice in most cases that the passenger will be flying with an ESA.
Can I bring my emotional support animal on the plane?
Yes. Airlines allow for this and will require an advance notice from the person flying. The pet can either sit on the floor of the plane, the lap of its handler, or on the next seat. Contact the airline to make specific accommodations, especially if you have a large emotional support animal. Your ESA cannot disrupt service (sitting or moving in the aisle or barking).
DO I NEED TO SHOW THE AIRLINE MY PET’S VACCINATION PAPERWORK BEFORE FLYING?
It depends on the airline. New ESA requirements for flying beginning March 2018 for Delta and United Airlines require you to submit a vaccination form or Veterinary Health form. Otherwise, you do not need your pet’s vaccination paperwork except if you are flying into Hawaii which is the ONLY state in the US with it’s own rules regulating pets traveling by aircraft to prevent the spread of rabies. Download our 2018 PDF Guide to flying with your pet for your prep checklist at home and for each airline.
CAN AIRLINES REQUIRE PASSENGERS WITH EMOTIONAL SUPPORT PETS TO GIVE 48 HOURS NOTICE PRIOR TO DEPARTURE?
Airlines can suggest passengers with Emotional Support Pets to give advance notice 48 hours prior to departure as specified CFR 382.27(b) BUT they cannot refuse passengers service if you are unable to do so CFR 382.27(g).
WHAT IS CFR 382.27(g) CFR 382.27(g) states: if a passenger does not meet advance notice or check-in requirements you establish consistent with this section, you must still provide the service or accommodation if you can do so by making reasonable efforts, without delaying the flight.
CAN I BRING MY EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMAL TO HOTELS?
The law does not require hotels, restaurants, trains and buses to accept emotional support animals on their premises but you could call them ahead of your trip and ask about their policy. Some establishments are open to accepting emotional support animals at their own discretion.
HOW SHOULD I PREPARE MY DOG FOR AIRLINE TRAVEL AS AN EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMAL?
Your dog may not be familiar with the airport environment, the confines of sitting at your feet on an airplane, or facing the scrutiny of airline personnel and other passengers. Please be aware that airline staff (including gate agents, TSA, and flight attendants) can deny passage for your emotional support animal (and you) if the animal is deemed to be a health threat, bother, or nuisance to other paying passengers, even if you have had your ESA pre-approved to accompany you on the plane. We suggest that you follow the American Kennel Club (AKC) Good Citizen program and ensure that your dog is trained to do the following to ensure that your travel is smooth. Read more about the 10-step AKC Good Citizen program on our page, Prepare an Emotional Support Animal for Flying.
HOW WILL MY LANDLORD OR PROPERTY MANAGER BE ABLE TO VERIFY MY LETTER?
Your landlord or property manager can verify your letter by calling the verification number that is included on the prescribing physician’s letterhead. This is the verification phone number of the doctor that issues your prescription, not Emotional Pet Support’s number. Your landlord will simply leave a message with the first and last name of the member he is trying to verify and someone will contact them to verify your letter.
CAN MY LANDLORD REFUSE MY REQUEST TO ACCOMMODATE MY EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMAL?
Only in certain circumstances. If the animal’s accommodation could mean additional administrative costs and other adjustments that would affect housing arrangements, then the landlord might refuse your request. For instance, the animal is disruptive or poses a threat to the health, safety, and property of the other tenants. Make sure to train your ESA so they are not unruly and you are always in control.
CAN MY LANDLORD CHARGE ME AN EXTRA FEE FOR MY EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMAL?
No. Under the regulations stipulated by the HUD, tenants with assistance animals, including emotional support animals, are not required to pay extra fees. However, a tenant can be liable for expenses that arise from damages is caused by the emotional support animal.
WHAT IF MY EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMAL CREATES A DISTURBANCE OR DESTROYS PROPERTY?
The American Disability Act dictates that assistance animals, including emotional support animals, must be handled properly by its owner. They must ensure that the ESA is obedient and can behave well in public. The handler is responsible for the care and supervision of the ESA at all times.
Is an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) allowed in no pet housing?
Landlords and property managers must make reasonable accommodations for tenants or prospective tenants with Emotional Support Animals, even if the apartment, house, or college dorm does not allow pets. A reasonable fee may only be asked by the landlord if there is any damage to the property as a result of your animal, otherwise no other fees may be imposed. Property managers/landlords may require the tenant complete a mental health professional Third Party Verification form. Purchase your emotional support letter for housing from Touch, or view our payment plans to get an affordable ESA prescription. If your landlord requires you to fill out their form, just check the purchase option, send us your form, and our psychiatrist will complete your housing form.
WHAT DO I DO IF MY LANDLORD REJECTS MY ESA EVEN AFTER I SHOW THEM MY ESA LETTER?
In the event that your landlord strongly objects to and rejects your ESA, it’s essential that you ask them to write a formal rejection letter explaining their decision. Then it’s time for you to act and write them back with an email statement explaining that you have provided all the legal documentation necessary (ESA letter from TOUCH ESA). For example, you may state that denying you accommodation even with the ESA documentation is due to discrimination. Of course, proceed to inform them then that you’ll be filing a HUD complaint in regards to this open discrimination of disability. Once things come to this point, your landlord will have to check the laws on disability and understand that they are legally obliged to grant you access. Don’t lose your temper and stay calm, but never forget that you have all the right to fight this as there is absolutely no reason why someone with a disability should be forced out of their home or denied housing.
In some cases, it’s possible for your landlord to reject your ESA. After all, the purpose of ESA is to protect the person who has to deal with emotional or mental disability, but the said law doesn’t have the right to punish the landlord either. Therefore, pay attention to the following cases when landlords have the right to legally reject your ESA.
In case of a too large an animal for the accommodation size. For instance, if you want to live in a studio apartment you can’t really house a horse or a llama.
The second situation is in the case of the building having 4 or fewer units, with landlord living in the said building as well.
Finally, a landlord can reject your ESA if the accommodation is a single-family house rented to you without a realtor.
Overview of Emotional Support Animals and Housing Laws
Everything depends on whether the person in question receives federally subsidized housing or has a documented disability that would make the landlord waive the “no pets” policy. Sadly, in the case of renting housing, the landlord is in the position to deny pets. Still, federal statutes, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (“Sec. 504”) and the Federal Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 (“FHAA”) state that a disabled person has to have equal rights to those with no disabilities when it comes to housing. It’s completely illegal to deny someone housing just because they have a certain disability. According to the statues, everyone, and this includes people with disabilities, has the right to equally enjoy their accommodation. Courts have stated before that “no pets” rule doesn’t stand if the person with an emotional or mental disability finds the comfort and ease in their pet’s companionship. A landlord who still denies housing to a person with a disability who needs an animal by their side for emotional support and qualifies under the statutes, violates the said statutes and can be seriously fined.
In order to actually qualify under both statutes, the tenant has to check whether they have a qualifying disability in the first place. For example, mental disabilities such as mental illness, retardation, and special learning disabilities as well as mental impairment when it comes to performing major life activities all qualify under the statutes.
What’s more, under Sec. 504, the tenant must be “otherwise qualified” in order to get the benefit, he/she must be denied that benefit due to the disability only, and the whole program must get federal financial assistance. According to courts, “otherwise qualified” means that the tenant has to be able to meet the program’s requirements even with the handicap. Also, the tenant should be able to respect tenancy rules such as taking care of the animal, cleaning up after it, walking it in designated areas, etc. Finally, Sec. 504 provisions can only be benefited by housing authorities that are funded by federal government (e.g. public housing projects).
Unlike Sec. 504, the FHAA applies to both public and private housing. Of course, FHAA also requires the establishment of a qualifying disability as well as the proof that the landlord is fully aware of the tenant’s disability which made the waiving of the “no pets” policy an obvious and legal move, but the process ended up in landlord rejecting ESA still. Moreover, the tenant has to openly request the waiver of “no pets” policy from the landlord with full explanation about the emotional support that the animal provides in their specific case of disability. In general, a physician’s statement is usually more than enough for the proof of disability and accommodation request. Feeling the emotional distress that comes from the “no pets” accommodation policy is not a reason enough to qualify under the federal law. There has to be an official connection recognized by the licensed therapist between the pet and the disability.
In case of both statutes mentioned, the person who is mentally disabled has to meet the following standards when it comes to waving the “no pets” policy in accommodation: 1) the accommodation in question has to be functional enough for the disabled person’s comfort, and 2) a cost-benefit balancing test has to be passed in order for both parties to be satisfied. The latter can be established by proving just how much the animal companion helps alleviates the emotional struggle of the disabled person. Such evidence is often obtained from a medical professional. Also, it’s essential that the tenant’s benefits in the latter case are compared to the landlord’s burdens as well. However, these burdens are usually very minimal. In the end, the number of mentally disabled people who actually qualify for the “no pets” waiving policy is quite small. But, precisely because of that, most landlords can’t argue against the waiving of the said policy. What’s more, there shouldn’t be any other reasonable alternatives to lessening the disability effects other than the pet.
Courts haven’t put a limit on possible animal species yet. But the usual species allowed in accommodation were generally, cats, dogs, and birds. Moreover, courts declared that the animal in question doesn’t require special training or ESA certification. Just providing the evidence about the connection between the animal and disability is enough.
However, even if the disabled person completely qualifies under the federal laws, the landlord can still refuse to waive “no pets” policy if this will cause great burdens on the landlord. This is true in cases when “no pets” is a fundamental housing program rule or when the disabled person cannot follow the tenancy rules. Still, so far, no landlord has been able to refuse to waive a “no pets” policy to a mentally disabled person who fully qualifies under the law, even in the above-mentioned cases.
It’s important to mention that if the tenant with disability in any way compromises the safety of other tenants or their property with the animal companion, they automatically don’t qualify under the statutes which make the landlord waive the “no pets” policy.
There are plenty of known benefits when it comes to the company of animals for people with mental disabilities. This is why it’s essential that legal communities assist the mentally disabled people with their rights in mind in order to make sure those rights are enforced.
The Air Carrier Access Act 49 U.S.C. 41705, Dept. of Transportation 14 C.F.R. Part 382, Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 are the laws that protect an emotionally disabled person and his/her ESA. The legal protections an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) has are to:
Fly with its emotionally or psychologically disabled handler in the cabin of an aircraft without being charged a pet fee.
Qualify for no-pet housing (that also includes limited size, breed, or species housing) without being charged a pet fee.
No other public or private entity (motels, restaurants, stores, trains, taxis, buses, theaters, parks, beaches, libraries, zoos, etc.) is required to allow your ESA to accompany you and in all other instances, your ESA has no more rights than a pet. That means they aren’t protected by law to accompany you into any public place that does not allow pets. That doesn’t mean these places won’t let you, it just means that they are not required to, by law.
The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development passed the Fair Housing Amendment Act of 1988. This law protects your rights to living in a “No Pet” policy dwelling unit with your Emotional Support Animal.
ARE EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMALS ALLOWED IN ALL PUBLIC PLACES?
Unlike service dogs, emotional support animals do not have access rights to all public areas. However, ESA’s of certain sizes can be brought on airplanes and allowed to live in pet-free housing. Service dogs, however, are allowed to accompany their owners wherever they go.