Emotional Support Animal

Emotional Support Animal - Boy hugging his brown dog's face

Emotional Support Animal

An Emotional Support Animal (also called ESA) is a companion animal which has been prescribed by a medical personnel (such as a psychologist, psychiatrist or a therapist) for an individual with a disability. Most airlines will accept a dog or cat as an emotional support animal.

Although all pets offer some sort of an emotional connection with their owner, in order to be considered an emotional support animal, a health professional needs to determine that the pet is needed for the owner’s mental health.

ESAs Aren’t Service Dogs

Emotional Support Animals are not service animals

At Pets2Fly we understand that each pet could have different values to their owners. Some owners might rely on their pet for their emotional support, while others for medical reasons.

ESAs provide support by just being with the owner. They can alleviate stress and anxiety, but they haven’t been trained to perform a detailed job or task that is related to the owner’s special needs.

On the other hand, service dogs can be trained. For example, to alert a hearing-impaired person or even to assist a blind person around an obstacle.

Emotional Support Animals Are On The Rise

Graph on the rise

In recent years, many online businesses started selling vests, harnesses and certificates for emotional support animals. These businesses “helped” increase the number of emotional support animals on flights around the world.

Since there isn’t an “official” organization that can certify a pet as an emotional pet, many pet owners purchased a fake ESA certificate online and by doing so, they “abused” the system by misrepresenting their pet as an ESA.

Pet owners that lie are “poisoning” the attitude towards real support animals. In addition, these people are breaking the law and causing problems to individuals with legitimate need.

Airlines Changed Their ESA Policies

Sad dog covering nose

In the last couple of months, many airlines around the world flew hundreds of emotional support animals. Unfortunately, a vast majority of these pets haven’t really been for emotional support. In most cases, the pet owners did so to avoid paying for their pets’ tickets and to avoid flying their pets in the belly of the plane.

There have also been many reports of “strange” support animals, such as: peacocks, alligators, pigs and more.

As a result, most airlines around the world changed and hardened their ESA policies. Here are some examples of changes that have occurred:

  • EL AL – from March 31, 2019, EL AL will only consider dogs as animals for emotional support. Moreover, these dogs can only travel with their owners on flights to and/or from the US. ESAs won’t be approved on any other route!
  • KLM – since March 15, 2019, only dogs will be considered as animals for emotional support. ESAs can only be taken on direct flights from Amsterdam to the US (and back).
  • United – As of January 2019, only dogs and cats will be considered as ESAs. In order to fly an emotional support animal over 30kg and/or on a long flight (over 8 hours), pet owners will need to obtain a special permit from United.
  • Lufthansa – only dogs on direct flights from Germany to the US (and back) will be accepted as ESAs.

New Rules Are Coming

Judge Holding Documents

Nowadays, most airline companies request more and more documents in order to approve someone’s emotional support animal. It has become a “trend” and because of this, it is becoming more complicated to get the airline’s approval.

It seems like the days of pet owners bringing their pets onboard airplanes as emotional support animals could be coming to an end.

Pets2Fly is an experienced pet transport company. We therefore, can provide you with legal guidance and help you with the necessary documents needed to transport your pet.

Please note that we can’t assist you with issuing ESA documents!

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