Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Assessment and Letter
According to California state law, Emotional Support Animal is an animal that provides emotional, cognitive, or other similar support to an individual with a disability, and that does not need to be trained or certified.
According to California state law, Emotional Support Dog means a dog that provides emotional, cognitive, or other similar support to an individual with a disability, and that does not need to be trained or certified.
The difference between an Emotional Support Animal and Service Animal. Per Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA, 1990), to meet the needs for a service animal the individual must have a disability defined by ADA and the Service Animal must be trained to perform specific tasks directly related to the individual’s disability.
ESA assessment process and fees
A professional relationship must be established per CA state law. The assessment process will take place over the course of at least 3 appointments over a course of 31+days. If you meet the criteria for an ESA, a letter will be issued after an assessment/treatment period of 31+days.
Fees per Assessment/Animal: $600
This fee includes THREE appointments of 45-55 minutes, including diagnostic assessment measures over the course of 31+days.
ESA assessment services are Not covered by insurance. The service is billed as psychological assessment services. You can pay the full $600 upfront to schedule the 3 appointments. Or you can pay $200 per appointment scheduling them one at a time. All fees are due the day of the scheduled appointment. A 24-hour cancellation policy is enforced.
Who is eligible for an ESA?
An individual must have a psychiatric or emotional disorder that can be helped by the presence of a companion animal. Additionally, based on the individual’s diagnosis there must be functional impairment in at least one major area of functioning (e.g., daily living skills, personal care, work, social etc.) that can be improved by having an emotional support animal.
Not everyone qualifies for an ESA letter, during the assessment process, Dr. Pollock will evaluate if you meet the criteria for an ESA letter. Regardless of the ESA assessment outcome, Dr. Pollock will provide detailed assessment findings at the conclusion of at least 3 appointments over the course of 31+days.
Benefits of having ESA
According to Federal Regulations under The Fair Housing Act, an Emotional Support Animal is considered an Assistance Animal, which is defined as “is an animal that works, provides assistance, or performs tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability, or that provides emotional support that alleviates one or more identified effects of a person’s disability. An assistance animal is not a pet.” As such, under the FHA, a disability is defined as a physical or mental impairment which significantly limits a person’s major life activities. If a lease says "no pets" or restricts pets, landlords are required to make what is called a “reasonable accommodation” to allow pets who serve as assistance animals, which includes emotional support animals. Additionally, because an emotional support animal is an assistance animal for a disability, pet fees at housing are Not applicable. The exception is a security deposit or if an assistance animal causes destruction.
Which animals can qualify as an ESA?
An emotional support animal is generally not restricted by the type of animal. Any domesticated companion animal may be considered as an ESA, such as domestic cats, dogs, hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, birds, certain reptiles, minipigs, ferrets (note ferrets are not legal in CA) and the animal can be any age. Importantly though is that the ESA must be able to be manageable in public and does not create a nuisance. ESA’s do not perform specific tasks, instead, it is the presence of the animal that relieves the symptoms associated with a person’s serious mental health condition.
State Laws about ESA
California: CA has one of the most stringent ESA laws in the country. As a patient, you must have an established professional relationship with your mental health/medical provider for at least 30 days to be issued an ESA letter, pending you meet the criteria.
For Wyoming and Montana residents, Dr. Pollock follows the same steps described above per CA State Law, which meets and exceeds the state requirements in WY and MT.
CA Assembly Bill No. 468, CHAPTER 168
US Department of Housing and Urban Development
The human-animal connection and healing effects of animals are evident throughout history from animals’ role in work, companionship, and medical interventions. Research scientifically supports two forms of human-animal connections: routine pet ownership and animal-assisted therapy.