Many Americans are in need or service or emotional support animals. While this is more common than ever, there are some steps required to have the proper documentation to obtain and own a service or emotional support animal properly.
If the owner of a service or emotional support animal is planning to take their service or emotional support animal on an airplane, they must have a note written by a health professional to meet the ACAA or Air Carrier Access Act guidelines. In addition, such a note will help with having a service animal in a rental, cover the owner in case they have to go to court, press charges or report a business that decides to not follow the ADA, and sometimes even get a service dog from a program or to train with a service dog trainer.
Per the Americans with Disabilities Act or ADA, service animals are defined as dogs that are trained to do work or tasks for people with disabilities. Such actions or duties include but are not limited to guiding the blind, alerting the deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting someone having a seizure, reminding a person to take prescribed medications, or even calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack.
While they are loving animals, service animals are considered working animals and not pets. The task a service animal has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Other domestic animals that are not dogs are covered only as emotional support animals (ESA) or therapy animals. If the service animal is also working as an emotional support animal already, the owner should have a letter for an ESA from a licensed therapist.
What is required to get a Doctor’s note for a service dog?
While the process is simple, the most crucial requirement is that the note comes from a healthcare professional. The only quality the health professional must have is to be licensed. The health professional can be your regular medical doctor, your psychiatrist, a psychologist, a licensed therapist, vocational case manager, licensed clinical social worker, or anyone who is working with the mentally or physically disabled person and has a license.
Also, as an owner of a service or emotional support animal, no business can require anyone to present a doctor’s note for the service animal, Owners of service animals don’t need to carry a doctor’s note around with them. The only exception would be if traveling on a commercial airplane.
The ACAA or Air Carrier Access Act states that an airline can require documentation for service or emotional support animals, so having documentation is necessary in such cases. However, in the case of service dogs, airlines are also supposed to accept ID cards, written documentation, tags, and answers about what tasks the dog performs, but a doctor’s note is best because they can require presentation of such a note.
While a doctor’s note for a service or emotional support animal does not seem challenging to get, the process may take longer than anyone likes, but will save considerable time and energy in dealing with people who may try to cause trouble for the owner or the service animal.