An official Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Letter verifies that you have a recommendation from your healthcare provider for an emotional support animal to help you cope with symptoms of an emotional or mental disability. This letter provides proof for landlords that your dog, cat, or other furry friend is an assistance animal entitled to a reasonable accommodation under the Fair Housing Act. An official letter is also necessary to qualify for ESA programs offered by some airlines.
Several online services can help you get a genuine ESA document. In this review, we’ll look at Certapet and compare it with another online ESA service: Pettable.
What Is Pettable?
Pettable is an online service that facilitates getting a legitimate Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Letter. The website connects each client with a Licensed Mental Health Professional (LMHP) who can determine whether they qualify for an ESA. If so, the LMHP writes an ESA Letter that meets legal regulations.
How Does Pettable Work?
To get an ESA Letter through Pettable, you go through three steps:
- Take a 3-minute online prequalification quiz designed to see if you may be eligible for an ESA.
- Complete a live consultation with an LMHP who can evaluate your mental or emotional disability and determine if you meet the criteria for an emotional support animal.
- Receive a legitimate ESA Letter within 24 hours if the LMHP determines that you qualify.
An emotional support animal letter from Pettable is compliant with state and federal laws.
How Much Does Pettable Cost?
Pettable offers ESA Letters for both housing and travel purposes. Each letter costs $149, but you get a discount if you purchase both. The housing and travel package is $199. Pettable offers a risk-free guarantee – they will refund your entire payment if your ESA Letter doesn’t work for you.
Is Pettable Legit?
Yes. Pettable connects you to a mental health professional who is licensed in your state and knowledgeable about emotional support animals and ESA regulations. This provider requires you to complete a live evaluation with an LMHP before you get your letter, something that scam sites claim isn’t necessary (although it is).
Pettable’s ESA Letters are compliant with the Fair Housing Act (FHA), the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), and HIPAA regulations. They are written on official letterhead and include the provider’s license information and signature.
Does Pettable offer a psychiatric service dog letter?
A psychiatric service dog, or PSD, is a dog that eases the negative effects on a person’s life that they may have because of a disability. PSDs alleviate symptoms for people with mental health struggles and offer companionship for those in need. These service dogs are similar to emotional support pets, but they need a bit more specialized training that emotional support pets don’t need.
Pettable offers a similar process for people seeking out a PSD that they do for an ESA. To get a PSD letter, you need to schedule a consultation with a licensed therapist or qualified medical practitioner. Pettable can connect you with a qualified health professional, and Pettable can schedule a consultation for you via phone or video call. If a medical professional determines that you would benefit from having a PSD, they can issue you an official letter and a satisfaction guarantee.
Our Take on Pettable
Pettable is a legitimate website that provides qualified patients with an ESA Letter compliant with relevant federal and state laws. It doesn’t try to sell any unnecessary service, such as “certification” or “registration” for your emotional support dog, cat, or another animal.
The company also provides clients with access to continuing support. Their therapists and customer service professionals can help if your landlord or travel provider questions your ESA Letter. If your ESA Letter doesn’t work as intended, Pettable will refund your money.
Advantages of Pettable
Pettable offers several unique advantages:
- Online prequalification quiz that asks mental health questions but doesn’t require you to provide your name, birth date, or other personal information
- Full money-back guarantee
- Compliant ESA Letters that meet state and federal regulations
- Top-notch customer support, including email or phone assistance if you get pushback from other parties about your letter
- Quick turnaround time – you may get your letter in as little as 24 hours after qualifying.
Having access to a dedicated customer service team can be especially helpful if you are worried about presenting your letter to your landlord. Pettable promises that their team is willing to get on a call with your landlord to verify the validity of your letter and the legal protections it provides.
Disadvantages of Pettable
There are some minor drawbacks with Pettable:
- You must go through the online quiz and provide an email address and phone number to see pricing options.
- Some user reviews mention receiving numerous marketing emails.
- You must pay in full before your consultation. However, Pettable will refund 100% of the cost if you don’t end up qualifying for an ESA Letter after speaking with the LMHP.
For most people, the pros of Pettable will likely outweigh the cons.
What Is CertaPet?
Certapet is an online provider of ESA Letters and is the “#1 Emotional Support Letter Service,” according to its website. CertaPet’s service is similar to that of Pettable – it connects customers with medical professionals who provide a mental health diagnosis, an emotional support animal recommendation, and a compliant ESA Letter.
How Does CertaPet Work?
Like Pettable, CertaPet’s process is broken down into three steps:
- Take a short online screening test to determine if you’re a good potential candidate for an ESA Letter.
- Get evaluated through a telehealth appointment with a licensed therapist or LMHP in your state.
- If approved, get a “custom treatment plan” that includes an ESA Letter shipped to you within 48 hours.
How Much Does CertaPet Cost?
CertaPet’s pricing is the same as Pettable’s. A single ESA Letter for either travel or housing purposes is $149. You can choose a package with both letters for a discounted price of $199.
Is CertaPet Legit?
CertaPet claims it is a legitimate service, and its process seems to meet all the legal requirements for prescribing an ESA Letter, including a live evaluation with an LMHP. CertaPet’s letters meet FHA, ACAA, and HIPAA regulations. The website doesn’t advertise any unnecessary services, such as emotional support animal certification.
Does CertaPet offer a psychiatric service dog letter?
A psychiatric service dog, or PSD, offers comfort and support to a person who suffers from debilitating mental health struggles. A PSD is specially trained to help people who struggle with a mental illness or a learning disability. These mental illnesses or learning disabilities could limit one or more major life activities for a person, so they may benefit from having an PSD. According to CertaPet’s website, while they offer evaluations to qualify for a PSD, their website is not clear on whether they currently offer official PSD letters or not.
Our Take on CertaPet
CertaPet seems to provide genuine ESA letters to qualified individuals, and their pricing is relatively competitive. However, it's hard to be confident in their practices (i.e., the quality of their mental health professionals) as well as whether or not the company has your back. They won't guarantee their letters, and if you don't get approved for an ESA, they keep a decent chunk of your initial payment. Additionally, if for some reason you are deemed unresponsive, they have the right to reject you for an ESA and not offer you a full refund.
It's also difficult to tell who actually works at or is behind the company. There are no photos of the team, the company founders, or any of their mental health professionals. Most of the website photography appears to be stock, and the site is generally pretty clunky. The combination of not knowing who is behind the company and certain portions of the service being non-refundable or the potential to outright lose your payment makes us skeptical.
To our knowledge, the letters they produce are legitimate, and their practices meet the right standard. Still, if you’re investing in getting an ESA Letter you can trust, it’s important to feel confident about the provider you are getting it from.
Advantages of CertaPet
Here are some of the benefits of CertaPet:
- The service is open to Canada and Puerto Rico, in addition to the rest of the USA.
- The CertaPet site provides a lot of valuable information about ESAs and relevant laws.
- The process is quick – you can schedule a phone consultation within a couple of days of completing the online quiz.
- CertaPet offers the option to get evaluated for another type of service animal: a psychiatric service dog.
- You can print a digital copy of your ESA Letter immediately after qualifying, and you can request a mailed copy as well.
CertaPet’s online process for getting an ESA Letter is simple and straightforward.
Disadvantages of CertaPet
As stated above, CertaPet has several significant disadvantages.
- You must pay the entire letter fee before completing your evaluation.
- If you don’t end up qualifying for an ESA Letter after your evaluation, you don’t get a full refund – CertaPet keeps a “consultation fee” of $35.
- It charges money for multiple support animals plus random extra add-ons.
- CertaPet’s money-back guarantee only covers the consultation – you can’t get a refund if you qualify for a letter and then it doesn’t work as anticipated.
- It's not clear who runs the business or that real people are backing it.
- Their website and product is kind of clunky.
You can likely get a legitimate ESA letter from CertaPet, but you may think twice about purchasing a product from a company that lacks transparency and doesn’t stand behind its product with a money-back guarantee.
Pettable vs. CertaPet
Even though they both help qualified individuals get official ESA Letters, Pettable and Certapet are quite different. Pettable offers ESA and PSD Letters, and it requires clients to go through an initial quiz before seeing prices. CertaPet shows the cost of all its options, but it's not always clear what will happen if your letter does not work or you don’t get approved. Both services require a patient to be evaluated by a medical professional to determine if they qualify for an Emotional Support Animal.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some answers to frequently asked questions regarding support animals, ESA letters, and more.
What is an emotional support animal?
An emotional support pet is an animal, whether a cat, dog, hedgehog, or other pet, who offers companionship and support to their proud pet parent. Service animals are a little different from emotional support animals in that support pets don’t require special training to be someone’s support animal.
How do you qualify for an emotional support animal?
To qualify for a support animal and to receive a genuine ESA letter, a person who experiences mental health struggles like depression, anxiety, or panic attacks, must meet with a certified mental health doctor. Medical professionals are the best people to determine if a person would benefit from owning a support pet. The whole user-friendly process can be done online in a timely manner through a reputable web-based company.
What is an ESA letter?
An ESA letter is an official acknowledgment that your pet serves you as a support pet. A legitimate service will set up a consultation between you and a licensed therapist and then issue a letter if necessary. The whole process to receive a letter can be user-friendly when using an online system. But beware of scams that will claim you need an ESA certification to receive a letter. Reputable online companies can offer an amazing and thorough service to receive a letter in such a timely manner.
How do you get an ESA letter?
First, you will need to find a reputable site, like Pettable. Then you will need to schedule a consultation with a licensed doctor over the phone or video call. After meeting with a medical professional, they will determine if you would benefit from the company of an assistance animal. If they determine that you need a support animal, they will issue you an ESA letter. With an official letter, landlords must accommodate emotional support animals and waive pet fees.
How do I know if my ESA letter is legit?
You will know that your letter is legit if you have a consultation with a licensed medical professional before you receive your letter. Your letter will need your doctor’s signature, the date, and your doctor’s medical credentials. The doctor will print your letter on their official letterhead. You should present your official ESA letter to your landlord if you live in a rental property to avoid housing fees.
What is a psychiatric service dog letter?
A psychiatric service dog is trained to help people who struggle with a mental illness or learning disability. Someone suffering from these conditions can schedule a consultation to discuss their condition with a licensed medical professional. If a medical professional determines that a person would benefit from having a trained PSD, the medical professional will issue an official letter. Because the pet would help a person’s medical condition, an official letter could help a person avoid pet fees. With the correct documentation, a pet can help a person struggling with a mental illness avoid extra fees or inconveniences.
How do you qualify for a psychiatric service animal?
If you feel that you would benefit from the companionship of a PSD, you will need to schedule a consultation with a licensed health professional. Federal regulations state that an official letter must come from the result of a consultation with a licensed professional, whether you find the doctor on your own or through a web-based company. After your consultation, your doctor will determine if you would benefit from owning an assistance animal.
Pettable is a legitimate, trustworthy source for genuine ESA Letters. The information provided is clear and accurate, and the company offers a full money-back guarantee.
Emotional Support Animal vs. Service Animal
Emotional support animals are different than service animals. Understanding the difference between an ESA and a service animal is vital for understanding how additional services like CertaPet and Pettable work. While they serve similar purposes, there are other requirements to consider.
A service animal is recognized by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Service animals require individual training to assist individuals who have disabilities. Service animals perform different tasks, such as:
- Pulling a wheelchair
- Offering physical support
- Assisting individuals with balance
- Interrupting behavior that could be destructive
- Performing acts to help with visual and hearing aids
Generally speaking, there are only two animal species the ADA recognizes as service animals. Dogs and miniature horses are recognized and protected by the ADA. Although the ADA recognizes miniature horses, they have slightly different standards than service dogs.
The guiding principle for a service animal is that it must perform a task directly related to an individual’s disability. The ADA also requires service animals to have individual training related to the work or tasks that they’re needed to do. They do not have to be professionally trained but require specific training for their jobs.
Top Breeds for Service Animals
Because service animals are almost entirely made up of dogs (except for the miniature horse), it’s possible to determine the most popular breeds for service dogs. Some breeds are better suited for work as service dogs than others. For example, the Labrador Retriever is the most popular breed for a service dog in the United States because they are generally intelligent and easy to train. The breeds that are most frequently used as service dogs include:
- Labrador Retriever
- German Shepherd
- Golden Retriever
- Bernese Mountain Dog
- Great Dane
- American Staffordshire Terrier
The ADA does not restrict the dog breeds that qualify as service dogs. Technically, any dog breed can work as a service dog if adequately trained. Additionally, there are some breeds that you want to avoid if you need a good service dog. For example, certain Terrier dogs are so independent and stubborn that training becomes too challenging. Other breeds, like the Siberian Husky, are cute and affectionate but incredibly high-maintenance. This makes them a less-than-ideal breed choice for service animals.
Other breeds to avoid include:
- Blue Heeler
- German Shorthaired Pointer
- Pharaoh Hound
Emotional Support Animal
Emotional support animals have different requirements. The ADA does not recognize them, and there are not the same species limitations as service animals. ESAs provide a broader range of services.
ESAs can help with many different things related to mental health. It’s generally easier to qualify for an ESA than a service animal because ESAs don’t require special training. There is a wide range of things an ESA can help with:
- Substance abuse
- Learning disorders
- Panic attacks
- Cognitive disorders
- And more…
Although an ESA serves a particular purpose, it is still vastly different than a service animal.
Top Breeds (and Species) for Emotional Support Animals
Unlike service animals, ESAs range across different species as well as dog breeds. Some of the best dog breeds for an emotional support animal include:
- Labrador Retriever
- English Toy Spaniel
- Yorkshire Terrier
- Golden Retriever
For those looking for an ESA other than a dog, there are plenty of viable options. Some of the best animals to serve as an ESA include:
- Miniature horses
- Miniature pigs
While technically any animal could be an ESA, they are generally limited to animals that can be domesticated.
Qualifying for a Service Animal
It’s not complicated to apply for a service animal. In fact, there are a lot of similarities between applying for a service animal and an ESA. Qualifying for one is more difficult, but you shouldn’t have a problem if you have a legitimate need.
To qualify for a service animal, you need written documentation from your doctor that you are receiving treatment for a disorder or disability that qualifies you for a service animal. This includes physical disabilities as well as some emotional or psychiatric disorders.