The AB 468 bill requires all healthcare practitioners (including Board licensees and registrants) to comply with all of the following if they are providing documentation relating to an individual’s need for an emotional support dog letter in California:
1. Must have a valid, active license, and include their license effective date, license number, jurisdiction, and type of professional license in the documentation (emotional support dog letter).
2. Must be licensed in the jurisdiction where the documentation is provided (i.e. where the client is located).
3. Must establish a client-provider relationship with the individual for at least 30 days prior to providing the emotional support dog letter.
4. Must complete a clinical evaluation of the individual regarding the need for an emotional support dog.
5. Must provide a verbal or written notice to the individual that knowingly or fraudulently representing oneself as the owner or trainer of any dog licensed, qualified, or identified as a guide, signal, or service dog is a misdemeanor violation of Section 365.7 of the Penal Code.
EMOTIONAL SUPPORT DOG LETTER – AIRLINE REQUIREMENTS
The U.S. Department of Transportation announced that in January 2021, emotional support animals are no longer honored on U.S. airlines. As a result, U.S. airlines (except for a few) are no longer accepting ESAs on flights.
Your pet must meet the airline’s requirements, such as weight limit, etc. In addition, a pet fee is assessed each way. Only small pets (under 20 lb.) are allowed to fit into a carrier and can board the cabin. However, all psychiatric service dogs are welcome to board the cabin free of any charge despite their size.
SERVICE DOG LETTER
To obtain a service dog letter, it’s important to know the main difference between an Emotional Support Dog and a Psychiatric Service Dog. Emotional service dogs are not considered service dogs under the ADA. ESA dogs may be trained for their specific owner, but are not trained for specific tasks or duties to aid with an individual’s disability. For example, if a dog’s mere presence provides comfort, it is not a service dog under the ADA. In other words, if a dog has been trained to sense an anxiety attack about to happen and takes a specific action to avoid or lessen the impact of the attack, then the dog is a service animal. Moreover, if your dog provides companionship, a sense of calm, and safety, that’s not legally considered a “task.”
TRAINING YOUR SERVICE DOG
If you are wondering if it’s possible to train an emotional support dog to be a psychiatric service dog, the answer is yes. However, psychiatric service dogs are indispensable to their owners and trained to do work that allows people with psychiatric disabilities to function in everyday life. Traditionally, service dogs are trained when they are puppies, and it can take up to several years of intense training, depending on why you need a service dog and what it will need to learn. In addition, it’s important to know that not all dogs are cut out to be service dogs. Therefore, it’s important to seek professional advice from experienced dog trainers. However, it can be well worth the time and investment including the valuable bonding time with your animal.
Interested in qualifying for a psychiatric service dog letter? We will connect you with a licensed therapist specializing in assistance animals to evaluate whether you meet the criteria under the ADA. If you qualify, your therapist will provide you with a signed PSD letter.