Emotional support dog

If you have been approved by your doctor to use an emotional support dog and are now wondering how you can get your dog registered with the federal government, you might be surprised to learn that in most states, the registration process only takes a matter of minutes. Plus, registration is free of charge! If you’re wondering where to start, check out these three easy steps on how to register your dog as an emotional support dog.

What is an Emotional Support Dog?

An emotional support animal is a type of animal that provides assistance to individuals with mental and/or emotional disabilities. They are not considered pets, but rather trained animals. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defines an emotional support animal as a dog or other animal that provides support for someone who lives with a mental health condition, such as depression. The person does not have to have a medical diagnosis for the condition in order to have the animal recognized by HUD’s definition. However, it should be determined that the presence of the animal has had a therapeutic effect on the individual. The most common types of service dogs are dogs, cats, hamsters, and rabbits.

Steps to Register Your Dog as an Emotional Support Dog

Doctor’s Visit

A doctor’s visit is the first step to registering your dog as an emotional support animal. This visit will help you identify any physical or mental health issues that could affect your dog. The diagnosis of a mental disorder should be written by a mental health professional and dated. You should also provide the name, address, and phone number of the mental health professional who provided the diagnosis.

A letter from the therapist with this diagnosis should accompany this form. The cost for this type of registration varies by state and can range from $25 to $150 dollars. It usually takes about two weeks to process the application, but some states have longer wait times. A fee may apply to expedite the process in these cases. Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, Federal agencies must make reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities so long as those accommodations do not cause undue hardship on the agency.

Approval From a Mental Health Professional

The second step to registering your dog is to get approval from a mental health professional. In order for your dog to qualify as an emotional support animal (ESA), it will need to be prescribed by a mental health professional and meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The criteria are that the person has a disability. The animal works to provide emotional support or reduce symptoms of the disability. The third requirement is that you have proof of this prescription. There needs to be a letter from your psychiatrist or therapist on their letterhead that states you have been diagnosed with one of the following: anxiety disorder, depression, panic disorder, PTSD, anorexia nervosa and other specified eating disorders, schizophrenia, and bipolar I disorder.

Officially Register Your Animal

In order to officially register your animal, you need to be able to provide a letter from a licensed mental health professional that is on their stationery. You will also need to provide copies of the following:

  • Proof of current rabies vaccination or medical records showing that your dog has been treated for rabies in the past six months
  • A veterinary health certificate showing that your dog has been examined by a vet and found to be healthy enough for travel
  • Veterinarian contact information – Emergency contact name, number, and address
  • Name and address of the organization where you work (if applicable)
  • Name and address of your doctor (if applicable)

After completing all these steps, please mail all documents to this location:

The Department of Health Services – Animal Registry Unit PO Box 10025 Sacramento CA 95812-0025

Choose Your Animal

Now choose your animal. You can register a dog or cat, but you’ll have to provide different documentation. If you’re registering a miniature horse or emotional support animal from a farm. If you’re registering a dog. The easiest way to do this is with the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP). IAADP provides a registration form that can be completed online. Once you complete and submit the form, they will verify your eligibility and issue a certificate of registration.

If you are interested in getting another type of emotional support animal. Please contact your state’s department for assistance with animals and agriculture for more information on how to do so in your specific condition. Some states require a doctor’s letter for people who want to get their pet registered as an emotional support animal, while other states allow veterinarians and others to vouch for their patient’s mental health needs. Be aware that federal housing laws prohibit pets from living in federally subsidized housing unless they are service animals.

Final Thought

Registering your dog with the government can be a long and tedious process. However, it is worth the time it takes to do so. There are many benefits that come along with this process. First off, you will have peace of mind knowing that if you ever need to take your dog on an airplane. Even visit a place where animals are not allowed, you will be able to do so without any issues or worries. Secondly, you won’t have to worry about being fined for taking your emotional support animal in public. Thirdly, once registered, your dog will never again be mistaken for a pet! And lastly, registration gives you access to tax deductions and other financial benefits. It may seem like a daunting task to register your dog as an emotional support animal, but the benefits outweigh the negatives.


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