Emotional Support Animal Services Can Help You Get Your Pet ESA Certified
There are a variety of services that will connect folks with mental health professionals licensed in their state for a mental health consultation to see if they qualify for an ESA. The benefits of obtaining an official ESA prescription from a mental health professional include:
- You Can Live Anywhere – Move into any housing unit with your pet, even if there are weight or breed restrictions
- No Pet Fees – Avoid paying any pet fees your housing or building unit requires
- Never Leave Your Dog Behind – Travel with your dog on planes, trains, and other public forms of transportation.
- Accepted In Public Places – Having an ESA makes you more likely to be welcomed into public places like restaurants with your pet.
Our Top Providers Ranked & Explained
- The only service offering a satisfaction guarantee, meaning your letter works or your money back
- Turnaround time on average 48 hours. Express service available, meaning you can guarantee receipt within 24 hours.
- Outstanding customer service
- Higher-end but won’t charge you with sneaky fees and sell you products that don’t add value (i.e. won’t charge you for multiple pets, physical copies of your letter, insurance on your letter, etc).
- The only company that transparently shows off its team and founders
- World-class mental health professionals
- Legal team ready and available to support
A screenshot of the pettable.com homepage.
- A strong second choice with pretty good customer support and easy to call them by phone with questions
- They will refund your money with a written denial from your landlord
- Coverage across all 50 states
- Turnaround time is pretty good. Typically within one week.
- Strong mental health professionals with doctorate-level education required
A screenshot of the US Service Animals homepage
Who We Don’t Recommend
- Multiple complaints with the BBB
- Assessments appear to be done all online
- Only one team member on LinkedIn, hard to know if this is a legit company
- Assessments appear to be done all online which makes us skeptical of the legitimacy
Why We Recommend Pettable
They seem like they’re really trying to clean up and improve the ESA space and do things the right way. They are venture backed, their founders have started multiple businesses, and they are the only company right now offering a satisfaction guarantee – which shows you how confident they are in their level of service.
The customer service was phenomenal, they did not look like they were trying to unfairly gouge us on prices or upsell us useless items, the mental health evaluations were thorough, and they were pretty much able to field anything and everything we threw at them.
This felt like a service that will be around for the long haul and one we trust to have our back.
Pettable impressed us with their trustworthy service. You can see some of their licensed therapists on their homepage.
Why Emotional Support Animals Are a Key Part of Mental Health & Well-Being
The vast majority of Americans will experience a mental illness in their lifetime, and more than one in four American adults currently struggle with a mental health disability on a day-to-day basis.
That’s not all, contributing to the rise in mental health related issues, our country is getting increasingly lonely. One in five millennials report having no friends at all and greater than 70% of millennials and approximately 80% of Gen Z respondents in a recent survey report feeling lonely. Loneliness is a major contributor to future mental health related issues and the prospect for our country only appears to be getting worse.
At the same time, 6.5 million companion animals enter shelters in the US each year, and only 1 in 10 dogs born end up finding a forever home.
Pets are an incredible support system for humans and there is an overwhelming amount of research to support the positive impact they have on mental health, loneliness, well-being, and even longevity.
As a result, there is a strong movement to make it easier for people to keep their pets with them in their homes as well as travel with them around the country.
Unfortunately, the ESA space is notoriously ripe with scams as many people have seen a big opportunity to cash in on the massive need for emotional support animals.
Dogs On Planes is dedicated to combing through products and services to make life easier for you and your furry friend. As a result, we embarked on a yearlong research project to test, vet, and find the best ESA services that you can trust the health & well-being of you and your furry friend with.
Our Top Picks & Yearlong ESA Service Review Process
One thing we learned throughout this process is that diligence is key to getting an ESA service you can trust and that will work for your needs.
Thankfully, we have been reviewing products and services for some time at Dogsonplanes, and we have a pretty rigorous, objective, and transparent approach to making sure we recommend the right products and services. Here is what we did:
- We had three people on our team sign up for every ESA service
- We created a ranking system based on the following criteria
- Legitimacy & Transparency
- Customer Service
- Handling of All ESA Needs
Our goal: give our customers a comprehensive view of which ESA services stand out and which ones they should trust.
*We review this page quarterly and keep the information up to date!
Why A Quality ESA Service Is Important
Our readers have been reaching out to us for a while asking us for advice and support on the ESA process. More recently we have heard a number of not so ideal experiences and decided we would get into the review and start helping people out with some more clear guidance.
Here is what we have learned about why a quality ESA service is important
- Evictions, Fines, and Apartment Bans – Landlords have gotten feisty and are resorting to all kinds of tactics to discourage people from getting ESAs. Some of those tactics have bordered on cruel including evictions, big fines, as well as banning people from renting in apartments ever again.
- Embarrassing & Anxiety Inducing – People can pretty quickly be put into compromising situations whether it’s with their landlord, airline, or when they’re just out and about. We’ve heard of people that have been downright embarrassed when their ESA letter’s legitimacy is called into question and it’s furthered their anxiety to be in those situations. Helping people find a service they trust and have confidence in is key especially because people that need this service are already struggling with their own mental health challenges. They don’t need another one.
Factors that Matter for ESA Letter Services
We talked through our ranking criteria above and here is some further detail on how we scored across those different criteria
- Legitimacy & Transparency – HUDs ruling on the legitimacy of a letter stipulates a few key requirements (outlined below). Additionally, they require that the client and mental health professional have a relationship and the implication to us is that ESAs done via online assessments or emails just won’t quite pass muster when it comes to meeting that standard. Here is what we look for:
- Licensed Mental Health Professionals in your state with significant ESA experience
- Letters written with LMPHs official letterhead, business information, and license number.
- Consultations are done via phone, not over email or online assessments
- Easy to reach the company, identify team members behind
- Outstanding Customer Service – We like talking to nice humans and feel like we’re in better hands when we’re treated well. Additionally, this is a service we’ll have to interact with annually for as long as we have our pets so wanted to review companies based on friendliness and overall customer experience.
- ESA Experience – There are a wide range of ESA needs and specific situations including but not limited to, multiple pets, apartments with breed or weight restrictions, particularly finicky landlords, travel requirements differing across airlines, etc. As a result, we want to rate services based on their depth and breadth of expertise when it came to ESAs. Here is what we looked for:
- Legal + Therapist Support – We test how helpful, responsive, and successful each service was at navigating a variety of situations.
- Experience With Landlord + University Forms – Forms requests when it comes to ESAs come in all shapes and flavors – ranging from the extremely comprehensive university forms to simpler ones by mom-and-pop landlords. We knew a great service would need experience and protocols for all situations.
- State Specific Legal Expertise – Lastly, ESA laws can vary by state and county so a provider with real expertise and a legal team that could dive into state specifics was a key factor.
- Speed of Service – Many of our customers are often surprised with a new landlord request demanding they present credentials for their pet as ESAs or are moving and really need a quick turnaround on their consultation. As a result, speed of service was a key factor we wanted to look at.
- Cost-Effective – Oftentimes ESAs serve as a more cost-effective alternative to therapy so we knew people did not want to break the bank and we wanted to assess the different price levels that existed.