How to Qualify for an Emotional Support Animal in California

The Best California Emotional Support Animal Letters

Having a mental or emotional disability can be just as challenging and debilitating as a physical debility. But unfortunately, many people underestimate the severity of the issue, as symptoms often go unnoticed. Given the prevalence of these mental health conditions, various alternative treatment options exist, such as an Emotional Support Animal in California, also known as an ESA dog.

Make sure you only deal with reputable Emotional Support Animal letter organizations, like ESADoggy.

The online ESA marketplace can be a predatory experience for those looking to obtain a legitimate California Emotional Support Animal letter. Thankfully ESADoggy, with its nearly decade of experience and team of licensed California providers, is the noted exception in an industry rife with unethical vendors and licensed mental health professionals.

It is important to understand how a California Emotional Support Animal (ESA) letter “works.” An ESA, designated by a medical or mental health care professional who assessed and verified one’s “disability and disability-related need,” can be helpful for those suffering from:

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Depression
  • Panic attacks
  • Social anxiety disorder

Is Your California ESA Letter Valid?

Two years ago, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson asked the Federal Trade Commission to launch an investigation of this industry. Said Carson, “Some websites sell certificates, registrations, and licensing documents for assistance animals to anyone who answers certain questions or participates in a short interview and pays a fee.”

So, how do you avoid scams, and be happy with your dog in the Bay Area?

California’s newest ESA Law – AB 468.

Recently, California Governor Newsom signed into law a bill, AB 468, that imposes various requirements designed to curb emotional support animal fraud.

First, professionals in the ESA marketspace are required to provide the following written notice:

  • an ESA dog does not have the special training required to qualify as a guide, signal, or service dog;
  • an ESA dog is not entitled to the rights and privileges accorded by law to a guide, signal, or service dog; and
  • knowingly and fraudulently representing oneself to be the owner or trainer of any canine licensed as, to be qualified as, or identified as, a guide, signal, or service dog is a misdemeanor.

Health care practitioners are prohibited from providing documentation relating to an individual’s need for an emotional support dog unless the health care practitioner:

  • holds a valid, active, license to provide professional services within the scope of the license in the jurisdiction where the documentation is provided;
  • establishes a client-provider relationship with the individual for at least 30 days prior to providing the documentation,
  • completes a clinical evaluation of the individual regarding the need for an emotional support dog, and
  • provides notice to the individual that knowingly and fraudulently representing oneself to be the owner or trainer of any canine licensed as, to be qualified as, or identified as, a guide, signal, or service dog is a misdemeanor.

Specifically, California law requires two therapeutic care sessions and any documentation to be issued is only allowed after the completion of the second session (30 days after the initial session).

Issue: Your Licensed Clinician Does Not Reside in California

Your clinician must reside in California. While not required by law and legally okay for a practitioner to be approved in multiple jurisdictions, many landlords will balk at a support animal letter issued by a licensed therapist located outside of California. HUD’s reasonableness standard would question the reliability of such documentation.

Issue: Approved in 5 minutes

Those three-minute mental health questionnaires (known as a DSM cross-cut) readily and easily found online are a dead giveaway for a letter mill. If you’re approved in 5 minutes, you just got scammed. If you’ve bought an ESA card without having a therapeutic session, you just got scammed.

Either way, rest assured your request for a reasonable accommodation will likely be rejected.

No Published HIPAA Disclosure Policy, as Required by Law

Look for the vendor’s published HIPAA disclosure policy, especially how they handle your Protected Health Information (PHI). Most ESA letter providers skip over this, as it is costly and time-consuming to implement – even though Federal law requires total compliance.

How to Register an California Emotional Support Animal

Don’t. Just don’t.

If you come across a site offering animal “registrations or certifications,” run away. Even if you have a broken ankle, hobble away at the best possible speed.

Error! Filename not specified.

Avoid phony Emotional Support Animal registration websites that issue invalid credentials.

Any service with the words “U.S.”, “US”, or “Nationwide” along with “registry” is conning people into thinking their pet is on an “official registry.” Sold frequently with shiny extras like a framed certificate, ID card, and dog tags, these goodies might be nice to have, but won’t make your dog an ESA.

And to boot, you might be breaking the law.

A bit of googling reveals countless, and pointless, Emotional Support Animal certifications — “official documents” provided after completion of a simple online form and payment.

They are completely phony.

$49 ESA ID Card and Harness to the Rescue!

Are you the proud owner of an Emotional Support Animal ID card?

“Why yes,” you said. “Thanks to USARegisterFido, I avoided service dog training, and now I can take Rover everywhere! To school, out to a restaurant, all around town!”

A measly investment somehow shortcuts years of training or having to spend upwards of $50,000 for a fully trained Service Animal? Come on, did that not seem even remotely sketchy? All because you did not want to leave Fizzy the Cat home while you went to Market of Choice?

Trust Us to Deliver the Best Remote Mental Health Care

Fully complying with California law and serving individuals throughout the Golden State and across the nation, ESADoggy has been connecting people just like you with doctors and therapists who provide reliable verification of the disability-related need for an assistance animal.

Chaz Stevens, CEO and Co-Founder of ESADoggy (ESAD Int’l) notes, “I’m sincerely proud of my role with Doggy; proud of our multi-national team, old-school values, and unwavering commitment to providing top-tier remote mental health care.”

In business since 1996 and BBB A+ rated, our culture emphasizes kindness, compassion and respect for all. We have a zero-tolerance policy for intolerance of any kind, all while holding ourselves to the highest ethical standards in promoting the mental health of those who use our platform.

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