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What is an Emotional Support Animal?

Alcove Team | 11/16/21

What is an Emotional Support Animal?

Are you wondering what an emotional support animal, or ESA, is? Do you think you meet the requirements for one? Do you already have one, but are you concerned if you will be able to find a place to rent? Keep reading to find everything you need to know!  

What is an emotional support animal? 

The reason is that there is a general misconception that emotional support animals (ESA) are a type of service animal. This is not correct.

Service animals would generally require to go through a particular type of training to learn how to perform a variety of tasks. Emotional support animals, on the other hand, do not need training to help individuals with mental health symptoms.

To some extent, emotional support animals can be seen as pets that through their companionship provide comport and support for their owner, verified by a physician's note.

Who needs an emotional support animal?

It is important to note that wanting and needing an emotional support animal are two different things.

Just wanting a little puppy to keep you company is different than actually needing an emotional support animal due to having some form of disability, such as anxiety, depression, stress disorder, etc

To qualify for an ESA, its owner must have an emotional or mental disability that is certified by a mental health professional such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other licensed health care provider.

The list of benefits of having an emotional support animal is endless and it really all depends on what type of comfort and support are you in need of.

ESAs have been proven to help individuals to deal with trauma and stress, depression and anxiety, and even some physical health problems. Overall, research has shown that emotional support animals can make people happier, loved and generally assist with the well-being of their owner. 

What type of animal can be a ESA? 

One of the most common questions is what type of animal can be an emotional support animal. The answer is pretty easy and straightforward. Any domestic animal can be a ESA.

How do I make my cat an emotional support animal?

The vast majority of individuals would choose a dog, but cats are a fairly common option as well. Birds and rabbits are often preferred for younger individuals. While pigs, turkeys and peacocks might seem a bit of a surprise to some they have also become a relatively popular choice recently.

How can I rent with an ESA?

What many individuals are afraid of is how would they be able to rent a place if they have an emotional support animal. We all know that it is common that some landlords would have a “no pet” policy.

According to the Fair Housing Act of 1968, as long as you have registered your pet as an emotional support animal and you have the necessary documents signed by your doctor as to why you need an ESA, the property manager would be responsible to accommodate for your needs and your pet. 


Always make sure that you know what rights you have. For even more information visit https://fha.gov/

Alcove is happy to accept pets if the home allows them, and ESAs with the right documentation. Learn more about our pet and ESA policies on our FAQ section.