While dogs and cats have provided humans with comfort and companionship for thousands of years, emotional support animals play an invaluable role in helping individuals cope with various mental health issues. As ESA owners know, these assistance animals are more than just pets. Their owners rely on them to cope with the challenges of daily life with a mental health condition.
At TheHealthBoard, we know how important it is for ESA owners to be able to live with their emotional support animals. However, this can be challenging when housing providers impose pet fees or restrictions. Luckily, federal legislation such as the Fair Housing Act gives individuals the right to live with their assistance animals, including emotional support animals, as long as they have an official ESA letter signed by a licensed mental health professional in their state.
Historically, obtaining an ESA letter involved a lengthy clinical assessment and multiple in-person appointments. Yet as the number of people needing ESA letters has grown, an increasing number of online service providers have begun offering a telehealth alternative to this process. To protect ESA owners from fraudulent practices, we wanted to find out whether the companies providing these services offer a transparent process and legitimate ESA letters.
One such provider, ESA Doctors, has become popular by promising an expedited, stress-free experience. In this article, we'll examine the legitimacy of ESA Doctors by closely analyzing its services and comparing them to competitors.
How We Evaluate ESA Letter Providers
To determine the legitimacy of ESA letter services, our editorial team evaluates them based on the following criteria:
- Licensed mental health professionals
- HIPAA-compliant platform
- Customer support and responsiveness
- Authenticity and acceptance of issued letters
- Pricing and refund policy
All About ESA Doctors
Established in 2015, ESA Doctors specializes in providing legitimate ESA letters for housing and travel purposes. Their mission is to connect individuals who require evidence of their need for an emotional support animal with licensed mental health professionals, ensuring a smooth and reliable process. The company prides itself on offering a fast, convenient, and secure online platform for obtaining an ESA letter.
ESA Doctors helps individuals with a mental or emotional disability connect with a licensed medical professional who can prescribe them an ESA letter if they have a qualifying condition, such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, or a phobia. Individuals can use these letters for housing purposes, travel, or both.
Getting an Emotional Support Animal Letter from ESA Doctors
Because of their focus on speed and convenience, ESA Doctors’ ESA letter-writing process only takes three steps:
- Complete the Questionnaire: Fill out the initial online questionnaire to determine if you are eligible for an ESA or PSD letter.
- Connect with a Licensed Therapist: If you qualify, ESA Doctors will connect you with a licensed professional who will conduct a consultation. Based on your symptoms and diagnosis, they will write you an ESA letter confirming your need for an emotional support animal is appropriate.
- Get Your Letter: If the licensed therapist determines that you have a qualifying condition, you will receive an official ESA letter with all the necessary information within three business days.
Does ESA Doctors Meet Our Criteria?
Here’s a breakdown of how ESA Doctors stacks up against our evaluation criteria.
Licensed mental health professionals
In accordance with federal regulations, ESA Doctors works with a network of licensed mental health professionals. These clinicians are qualified to assess an individual's need for an ESA and have the credentials and experience necessary to provide valid ESA letters.
Online services have a responsibility to keep personal and medical information safe and confidential, and ESA Doctors appears to take this seriously. Their website uses SSL encryption to protect data, and their HIPAA-compliant platform means that sensitive information will be kept private.
Customer support and responsiveness
ESA Doctors boasts a dedicated customer support team who are contactable via email, phone, or live chat. They are known for their prompt response times and commitment to resolving customer concerns. Also, their website contains information and resources, a regularly-updated blog, and a section for frequently asked questions.
Authenticity and acceptance of issued letters
For an ESA letter to be truly legitimate, it must pass all the standards and regulations required by housing providers. ESA Doctors has a proven track record of issuing valid ESA letters in accordance with the Fair Housing Act. This is further demonstrated by positive reviews of the service attesting to the successful use of their letters for housing (and travel) purposes.
Pricing and refund policy
ESA Doctors offers a transparent pricing structure for its ESA letter services. Additionally, the company offers a complete refund if a landlord refuses one of their letters due to incomplete information or other issues. While this circumstance should be rare if the ESA letter was handled appropriately, the policy nonetheless shows how confident ESA Doctors is about the validity of their service.
Comparing ESA Doctors to Competitors
To assess the legitimacy of ESA Doctors, we’ve compared the services it offers to other ESA letter providers.
CertaPet is an ESA letter service that has a lot in common with ESA Doctors. They have comparable pricing structures, and both work with licensed mental health professionals. Although they are very similar, it’s worth noting that CertaPet has a larger network of therapists, which may be useful depending on where you live.
Pettable provides online ESA letters and specializes in ESA letters for housing. They make it easy for customers throughout the U.S. to connect with an empathetic and highly knowledgeable mental health clinician licensed in their state. The company also helps facilitate psychiatric service dog training and prescribes PSD letters for qualified clients. Lastly, Pettable boasts an exceptional customer service team and offers competitive pricing, plus a money-back guarantee.
Despite the confusing resemblance in names, ESA Doctor is a different company than ESA Doctors. ESA Doctor also supplies ESA letters for housing and travel purposes but at a higher price than ESA Doctors. However, according to customer reviews, ESA Doctor offers a more attentive support team and a superior letter acceptance rate.
Mango Clinic is a general-purpose medical service provider that offers assistance with the process of obtaining an ESA letter. Their pricing is similar to that of ESA Doctors, but their refund policy is less straightforward. While Mango Clinic maintains a positive reputation, potential clients may prefer ESA Doctors due to their exclusive focus on ESA letter services.
Emotional Pet Support
Emotional Pet Support delivers ESA letters at a marginally lower cost than ESA Doctors. Even so, their refund policy is unclear, and reviews indicate that the company’s customer service team leaves much to be desired. Unfortunately, their website fails to provide many of the resources that customers would need to make an informed decision.
Our Verdict on ESA Doctors
Based on our team’s comprehensive evaluation of ESA Doctors, it seems clear that they are a legitimate ESA letter service provider. They work with licensed mental health professionals, use a secure, HIPAA-compliant platform, offer helpful customer service, and prescribe genuine, widely accepted ESA letters. Their transparent pricing and dedication to customer satisfaction are also positive aspects of the business.
If you want a reliable and professional ESA letter service, ESA Doctors is a good choice. By following the appropriate steps with them, you can obtain a valid ESA letter to help secure the benefits and protections necessary for you and your emotional support animal to live together.
Why We Prefer Pettable
While ESA Doctors offers a useful service, our research has led us to conclude that Pettable is an even better choice for obtaining an official ESA letter. While the process for acquiring an ESA letter with Pettable is very similar to ESA Doctors, there are a few important reasons why Pettable’s service may be preferable for pet parents.
We were particularly impressed with Pettable’s commitment to quality and professionalism, as evidenced by its network of top mental health professionals. Pettable’s letters are competitively priced with ESA Doctors and similar providers and can be obtained within a day or two of the telehealth consultation.
Pettable’s customer service team is also known for its commitment to making sure that its clients’ ESA letters work for their housing needs. And if your landlord doesn’t accept your ESA letter for any reason, the platform offers a full money-back guarantee.
Along with their extensive range of articles and guides to ESA laws and regulations, these qualities make Pettable an obvious choice for anyone looking for support and guidance on living with their assistance animals and getting a legitimate ESA letter online.