Emotional support animals are making flying beastly, experts say…
There are legitimate cases of people who need an emotional support animal in the air. But experts say that far too often, people are abusing the system to save a buck and get their pets onto flights for free.
“You get on an aircraft and the cabin looks like a barnyard,” said Hollis Gillespie, a former flight attendant. She said she’s seen snakes, birds and pigs. “Often it’s about the money, because one way to travel with a pet on some airlines can be up to $600, depending on the size of the animal.”
Getting an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Letter
Emotional Support Animals or ESAs, are prescribed as part of a treatment program to certain people with psychological or emotional disabilities. These animals bring comfort to their patients. A mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist or licensed therapist, are the only individuls authorized to prescribe an animal according to the Fair Housing Act and Air Carrier Access Act. ESA’s help mitigate emotional/mood related symptoms, as well as help the patient remove themselves from a triggering environment that could potential lead to emotional turmoil. The following is some information about an Emotional Animal Support Letter –
What Is an Emotional Support Animal Letter?
An ESA letter is a prescription document which would allow a qualified individual to take an ESA with them on airplanes and will also effectively overturn a no-pet policy in housing. However, in order to prove your disability and the need to have an ESA, you need an ESA letter. This letter should not be more than a year old for air travel. An ESA letter for housing does not have to be within a specific timeframe. Each letter should be printed on a professional letterhead, and the person recommending the ESA for you should be a licensed medical professional.
The following information must be stated in the letter:
- The disability that the passenger has is related to mental health and is a part of DMV-IV. This mental disability limits one or multiple major life activities of the patient substantially.
- The ESA is necessary for the treatment, health and well-being of the patient at the destination and during the flight.
- The person signing and writing the letter is licensed in medical health and the patient is under their care. Also, the letter should specify the particular type of medical health professional that the individual is – clinical social worker, psychologist, psychiatrist, et al.
- Details about the license of the medical health professional, including date, state, type, et al.
- The letter should be dated no longer than 12 months from your departure date.
Who Needs an ESA Letter?
A person who has a mental disability and has been recommended to carry an ESA everywhere needs an ESA letter to carry the animal to certain establishments. These disorders should be included in DMV-IV. DMV-IV disorders include mental retardation, learning disorders, motor skills disorders, communication disorder, developmental disorder, ADD or disruptive behavior disorder, eating disorders, feeding disorders, tic disorders, elimination disorder, delirium, dementia, amnesia, cognitive disorders, substance related disorders (alcohol, drugs, and others), schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders, mood disorders, depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, somatoform disorder, factitious disorders, dissociative disorders (DID), sexual dysfunctions, paraphilia, gender identity disorder, sexual disorder, sleep disorders, adjustment disorder, impulse control disorders, and others.
For all the above mentioned disabilities, an ESA can be obtained. It is needed when the patient wishes to fly with their ESA (take the animal into the flight with them). It is also required if the patient gets an accommodation and wishes to stay with their ESA, especially if the rules and policies of the landlord do not allow for pets and animals.