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ESA and Psychiatric Service Animals 2017-09-18T09:15:23+00:00

Emotional Support Animals (ESA) and Psychiatric Service Animals

How is At Your Service Animal different from other companies?


At Your Service Animal is a boutique practice exclusive to ESA and Service Animal certifications. Francesca Kelly has over 20 years of experience helping those who have struggled with depression, anxiety and other disorders. An adjuvant aid against mood disorders can be found in a prescription for an ESA or Psychiatric Service animal, not in a Rx for a pill. A pet can be a lifeline providing comfort and succor in times of darkness and stress. Our laws now reflect the science that recognizes the therapeutic role of Emotional Support and Psychiatric Service Animals. This aid is often more powerful than a pill and a potent ally in addressing emotional disorders.

At Your Service Animal can help assess if your symptoms meet threshold for an ESA or Psychiatric Service Animal. After an in-person diagnostic interview with a licensed and credentialed psychotherapist, Francesca Kelly, certification for an ESA or Psychiatric Service Animal certification will be issued. At Your Service Animal is not an online certification mill that may be questioned by airlines, hotels, or apartment managers. Invalid documents are rejected by airlines, hotel and apartment managers. Don’t jeopardize your pet’s well-being, nor waste your time and money. Instead of a list of generic questions, Ms. Kelly personally conducts a Bio-Psycho-Social evaluation and review of your personal history. She will administer whatever is necessary to support and document your qualification for protected status and provide follow up support. For further information about Ms. Kelly, please refer to her profile on Psychology Today.

What are ESAs and Psychiatric Service Dogs?


ESAs are pets that serve as therapeutic support and comfort for individuals suffering from emotional or mental health conditions.

Photo credit: The Guide
Horse Foundation

Psychiatric Service Animals are usually dogs, but may also be miniature horses. They are trained to perform specific tasks to assist an individual’s independence and quality of life. These animals serve to provide a myriad services; such as environmental cues, cognitive activation, signaling behaviors, prompting medication reminders, etc.

What kind of animal qualifies as an ESA?


An ESA is not limited to dogs or cats, but encompasses any animal. Rabbits, hamsters, horses, reptiles, spiders, turtles, fish and fowl all qualify. Meet some famous ESAs:

Photo credit: Miles
and Points Consulting LLC

Psychiatric Service Animals, however, are very different from ESA’s. It is a common misconception that these animals are large breeds; the size of the animal is not relevant. It is the animal’s ability to perform specific tasks related to the disability that qualifies it to aid its owner. Some suffering from a psychologically debilitating illness may qualify for a psychiatric service dog or miniature horse, if there is a need for disability-related assistance. This category affords one similar benefits as those conferred on those with physical challenges. As such, access to most buildings, transports, etc. is provided through certification of those that qualify for a service animal. With a psychiatric service animal, your animal would accompany you 24-7, if needed.

Do You Qualify for an ESA or Psychiatric Service Animal?


For an ESA, qualifying conditions include, but are not limited to, the following emotional disorders: depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, panic attacks, phobias, etc.

A Psychiatric Service Animal is akin to a service animal for those challenged by physical limitations such as blindness or other physical disorders. There is, as indicated previously, a disability-related need that the animal is trained to address.

What are the qualifying conditions for a Psychiatric Service Animal?


For a Psychiatric Service Animal, the qualifying conditions require a diagnosis of a more serious mental health condition. The following is a partial list: autism, psychotic disorders, PTSD, schizophrenia and other serious mental illnesses.

What is the process to receive an ESA or Psychiatric Service Animal certification?


To qualify for an ESA or Psychiatric Service Animal designation, and to be issued the requisite paperwork verifying medical necessity, At Your Service Animal provides either an in-person session, or if required, an assessment via telephone or Skype. A 15 minute consultation telephone session is offered if you are unsure whether you qualify. If you meet the criteria, you will then be issued two letters conforming to all legal requirements certifying your right to an ESA or Psychiatric Service Animal. One letter is for the airlines and hotels; the other is for housing.

What are the fees and what does it include?


The fee for the Intake process is $175.00. It includes the qualifying telephone consultation, in person assessment, evaluation, diagnosis, personal follow-up and written documentation (certification) that meets all legal requirements for ESA. In the unlikely event that the verification of documentation is required, that is also provided to the airline or housing authority, and with your signed Release of Confidentiality, without cost.

What is the Procedure for Certification?


If you wish to insure that your pet fly and reside with you as an ESA or possibly act as a trained Psychiatric Service Animal, you will need the proper documentation. The procedure to meet legal criteria and conform to best Standard of Care practices is as follows:

  1. If you are unsure if you qualify for an ESA or Psychiatric Service Animal certification, please email using the

    Contact Page

    , or call:


    or fax:


    You will then be contacted by the therapist, Francesca Kelly. Your concerns and issues will be discussed in this complimentary consultation and your probable eligibility determined.

  2. Please fill out all forms on the Forms page
    A follow-up appointment for either a virtual or in-person, interview will follow. The type of certification qualified for will be discussed at that time.
  3. In order to reserve your appointment time, you may use PayPal and most credit cards are accepted.
    Online payments are preferred as your credit card information is secured via the PayPal site. In the event you do not meet criteria, your payment will be refunded.
  4. After reserving a session, you will then be contacted to schedule your appointment. As At Your Service Animal is an exclusive practice, evening and weekend appointments are available for your convenience. Valet service is provided; tipping is included in this complimentary service.

What happens during the interview?


During the interview, your concerns, needs and stressors will be discussed. If it is determined that your pet alleviates distress related to an emotional or psychological condition, you will meet the legal requirements for ESA or, if threshold is met, possibly a Psychiatric Service Animal. Your ESA documentation will be immediately issued to you. Your certifying letter is valid for one year. Prior to its expiration, a follow-up will need to be scheduled and updated documentation will be issued at that time. Your ESA status legally requires annual re-certification.

Can my letters be valid for multiple years?


No. Your certifying letters are only legally valid for a period of one year. Prior to its expiration, a follow-up will need to be scheduled. Updated documentation will be issued at that time. Beware of offers for permanent certification since this is not allowed by law. Please remember to maintain your protected status, your ESA and Psychiatric Service Animal status must be re-certified annually.

What are the renewal costs?


The cost of renewing the documentation, which includes both certifying letters, is $95. If you have multiple pets, At Your Service Animal will assist you with each certification. Additional pets are certified for $75.

How Do I Contact At Your Service Animal?


If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Francesca Kelly, M.S., LMFT #40206 of At Your Service Animal via the Contact Page, fax (1-619-255-3906) or phone (1-949-633-1951).