Fact checked

Are Online ESA Letters Legitimate?

April Brightman
February 7, 2024
October 13, 2023
11 minute read
Updated By
Expert Reviewed By:
Kassie ClaughtonKassie Claughton
LCSW, Clinical Social Work/Therapist
October 13, 2023
August 18, 2021
11 minute read
Updated By
While there are many companies that offer legitimate ESA letter services online, some do not follow the requirements. Know what to look out for when getting an ESA letter.

There are a lot of companies out there that advertise quick and easy online emotional support animal letters. But are online ESA letters legitimate? 

Are Online ESA Letters Legitimate?

Online ESA letters can be legitimate, but it's crucial to be cautious. To ensure authenticity, verify the source's credibility, check for a licensed mental health professional's involvement, and review their compliance with legal requirements, such as HIPAA and state regulations. Always prioritize your and your pet's well-being.

What is an ESA Letter?

An emotional support animal letter, often referred to as an ESA letter, is a legal form that documents an individual has a qualifying mental health disorder or disability and requires an emotional support animal. It’s similar to a prescription in that it states an ESA is necessary for managing an individual’s mental health condition.

What Makes an ESA Letter Legitimate?

For an ESA letter to be legitimate, it must meet a few criteria. It has to be on official letterhead from the practice of the mental health care provider writing the letter, contact information, and the provider’s license number. The Fair Housing Act explicitly states that housing providers are not entitled to know a person’s diagnosis or severity thereof.

ESA Letter Legal Requirements

Emotional support animal letters may be legally required in certain situations to protect your rights to an ESA when it comes to housing.

The Fair Housing Act (FHA)

While emotional support animals aren’t always granted the same public access rights as service animals, they are protected under federal ESA and service animal laws when it comes to housing under the Fair Housing Act (FHA). These laws exist to prevent discrimination against individuals for housing based on race, religion, orientation, gender identity, or disability. 

Individuals with disabilities or mental health conditions who use an emotional support animal have the legal right to live with their ESA in housing that doesn’t typically allow pets, has restrictive pet policies that prohibit certain breeds or sizes and is exempt from pet fees in rental housing.

State-Specific ESA Letter Requirements

While federal laws like the Fair Housing Act (FHA) serve to protect the rights of individuals who use an emotional support animal across the country, some states have their own ESA laws like California, Arkansas, and Montana.

Under California law, AB 468 anyone receiving an emotional support animal letter must be informed verbally or in writing documentation acknowledging that an ESA is not the same as a service animal. It also requires businesses that sell ID cards, vests, and harnesses to provide the same information to consumers.

This California law also requires licensed mental health professionals (LMHPs) to provide certain information when providing emotional support animal letters, including their license number, license type, jurisdiction, and the effective date.

In both California under AB 468, Arkansas HB 1420, and Montana under HB 703, licensed mental health professionals providing emotional support animal letters must also establish a minimum of a 30-day relationship with clients, and during that time conduct an individual evaluation to determine a diagnosis and the person’s need for an emotional support animal.

Can You Get a Legitimate ESA Letter Online?

Yes, you can get a legitimate ESA letter online! There are excellent professional agencies out there like Pettable that can provide legal, legitimate ESA letters that are guaranteed to meet your needs.

What's on a Legitimate ESA Letter?

A legitimate emotional support animal letter should include all of the following:

  • Official letterhead of the practice of your health professional
  • License number of the mental health professional providing the ESA letter
  • Your name
  • A statement the client meets the qualifications for a mental health disorder or disability
  • The health professional’s recommendation of your need for an ESA

While an ESA letter needs to contain this information, it doesn’t need to include specifics about your diagnosis.

An example graphic of an ESA letter with the necessary clinician information.

What Makes Pettable ESA Letters Legitimate?

Pettable is the top provider of legitimate online ESA letters, working with mental health professionals and individuals who need an emotional support animal and supporting documentation all over the United States.

Our ESA Letters Are Written by Real Clinicians in Your State

Pettable works with a wide network of clinicians and healthcare professionals in all 50 states, meaning we can guarantee our ability to match you with a provider in your area who knows both the federal and local state requirements for providing you with a legal, legitimate ESA letter.

We Require a Verbal Mental Health Consultation

Unlike illegitimate companies that promise to fast-track ESA letters, Pettable takes the time to ensure every individual seeking our services has a verbal or video consultation with a licensed mental health professional. Our clinicians are paid per consultation — not per approval — so there’s no incentive to approve or deny you other than legitimate need.

Our Clinicians Have Complete Discretion

Working within federal and state laws and the required information for ESA letters, Pettable's team of qualified clinicians are professional and discrete when it comes to your records, and will only provide the information legally required of them to make sure your ESA letter is legal, legitimate, and recognized by landlords for housing and in any other instance you may need.

We Follow Federal and State Regulations

Pettable’s network of providers in every state means our team includes professionals who are not only up-to-date and experienced at working with federal regulations for emotional support animals and providing ESA letters but who are also familiar with individual laws in every state. No matter where you live in the U.S., Pettable can match you with a provider who can get you on your way to a legitimate ESA letter.

Signs of an Illegitimate ESA Provider

When searching for an ESA provider, be on the lookout for these telltale signs an agency may be an illegitimate provider of ESA letters.

No Verbal Consultation with a Clinician

An agency that doesn’t require individuals to consult with a licensed health professional or other licensed clinician is a red flag for ESA providers. Taking the time to assess individual needs and ensure a qualifying disability is present is essential for quality care.

“Instant” ESA Letter Approval

Instant approvals for an ESA letter after answering only a few questions are almost always a scam. For an ESA letter to be legitimate individuals must consult with a health professional directly, which can’t be done “instantly".

Offers an ESA “Registry”

Providers offering an ESA “registry” are also almost always a scam. There is no legally recognized registry for service animals or emotional support animals in the U.S. Charging for “registration” of an assistance animal is a scam.

Provides ID Badges or ESA “Certificates”

Agencies that promise to provide ID badges or ESA “certificates” might not be providing legitimate ESA documentation. The only legal paperwork that can certify an emotional support animal is an ESA letter provided by a licensed health professional and containing all the required information.

How to Get a Legitimate ESA Letter with Pettable

Getting a legitimate ESA letter from Pettable is simple, affordable, and legitimate with our guaranteed process. 

Complete Our Online Assessment

Start by completing Pettable’s brief assessment to determine your specific needs and get matched with a licensed healthcare provider in your state. The assessment generally only takes about 3 minutes!

Attend Your Consultation with a Licensed Clinician

Once we’ve matched you with the right provider, you’ll attend a consultation via video or phone to reach your diagnosis and be sure your disability qualifies for an emotional support animal.

Receive Your ESA Letter

After the required number of consultations depending on your state, if approved, your clinician will provide you with a legal, legitimate ESA letter! Pettable’s experts work together to ensure your needs are met and your ESA letter contains all the required information to work for you. Get started with Pettable today!

Meet the author:
April Brightman

April Brightman is a freelance writer and outdoor enthusiast with a passion for traveling and hiking with her rescue pup, Marley. She's written for pet-centered sites like Outward Hound, as well as outdoorsy adventure brands like BearVault, Hipcamp, and Explorer Chick.

See Archive