How We Researched ESA Companies
Emotional support animals provide invaluable comfort and assistance for people with emotional or mental disabilities. Under the Fair Housing Act, assistance animals like ESAs are exempt from pet restrictions and extra fees in most housing situations.
The key to ensuring that you can keep your ESA with you wherever you choose to live is an official ESA Letter that’s written and signed by a licensed mental health professional (LMHP). For many people, especially those who don’t have access to in-person medical care, an online site is the easiest way to get a legitimate ESA Letter.
There are many of these companies on the internet, but not all of them are trustworthy. We’ve researched many online ESA Letter providers and curated a list of our top three recommendations. Read on to find out which one is the best and which companies you should avoid.
The Bottom Line - Our top ESA services
There are many online ESA Letter providers. Once you remove the scam sites with fake letters and unnecessary add-on services, there are three top ESA Letter providers that we can recommend.
Based on our research, we found Pettable to be the most trustworthy choice. The company offers a complete satisfaction guarantee and ongoing customer support if you have any questions about your letter.
What To Expect From Online ESA Letter Providers
An ESA Letter is akin to a prescription – it’s proof that a licensed medical professional recommends an emotional support animal as part of a treatment plan for a patient’s mental health challenges. ESAs can assist with various conditions, including PTSD, anxiety, depression, ADHD, and bipolar disorder.
Online ESA Letter providers help individuals with emotional or mental disabilities get official documentation for their emotional support animals. These letters can be provided to landlords to secure FHA-guaranteed housing protections for ESAs.
While the process varies slightly between providers, most online ESA Letter companies match each client with an LMHP who evaluates the client’s mental health. If the client has a diagnosable condition that an ESA would help with, the LMHP writes and signs an official ESA Letter for the client to use to secure accommodation for their ESA.
Signs of a Trustworthy ESA Letter Company
Several online companies provide legitimate ESA documents. These companies follow all federal and state legal rules and ensure that each client meets eligibility requirements before receiving a letter. Here are some of the signs of a good ESA Letter company:
- Cost: Most companies charge between $100 and $200 for a letter, and the price includes the cost of the LMHP consultation. A company with prices significantly lower or higher than this range may not be a trustworthy option.
- Speed: While some providers will send physical copies of your letter in the mail, most offer a digital option too. A high-quality company should email your letter within 24 hours or so after approval from the LMHP.
- Process: To be valid, an ESA Letter must be created by a mental health professional who is licensed in the patient’s state and who evaluated the patient in person or over the phone. A legitimate company will facilitate such an evaluation before providing a letter.
- Guarantee: It’s always good to choose a company that backs up its products and services. Most ESA Letter providers require full payment before the consultation, but a trustworthy one should offer a full refund if you don’t end up getting qualified for a letter. One of the things that makes Pettable an outstanding company is that it offers a full money-back satisfaction guarantee even after you get your letter.
- Customer support: Getting an ESA Letter requires you to divulge a good amount of personal information and go through a medical evaluation. It’s frustrating to be asked to go through that process by a company that doesn’t even offer support if you have questions. A good company should provide easily accessible customer service throughout the entire process.
When choosing an ESA Letter provider, look for good customer service, a satisfaction guarantee, reasonable costs, and a process that involves a consultation with a mental health professional.
Red Flags That Signal an ESA Letter Scam
Unfortunately, several scam sites on the internet are designed to prey on people looking for legitimate ESA Letter services. Here are some red flags to watch out for:
- DIY forms: Some companies provide fill-in-the-blank forms and claim that you can create your own ESA document. These kinds of forms don’t meet the requirements for an ESA Letter and won’t hold up to a legal challenge.
- Lack of contact info: Another sign of a disreputable company is a complete lack of contact information. Make sure there is an email address, phone number, or website contact form.
- No live evaluation: Any site that claims to provide an official letter without a mental health evaluation is not to be trusted. The law requires an LMHP to conduct an in-person or telehealth evaluation before writing an ESA Letter. Answering survey questions isn’t usually a viable substitute for a consultation with a medical professional.
- Unnecessary services: Many less-than-honest sites offer additional services for your ESA, such as registration in a national database or “official” certification. These services are money-making scams with no real value. There is no official certification process or database of emotional support animals. The only thing you need to get legal protection for your ESA is a legitimate letter signed by an LMHP.
If the ESA Letter provider you’re considering shows any of these red flags, be wary.
What Makes an ESA Letter Legitimate?
If you're spending money and time getting an ESA Letter online, the last thing you want is to have your landlord reject it because it doesn’t meet the legal requirements for this type of document. Here are the signs of a legitimate ESA Letter.
1. Evaluation requirement
As we discussed, an ESA Letter is sort of like a prescription. It’s an official recommendation for an emotional support animal written by a medical provider. You wouldn’t expect a doctor to prescribe medication without an evaluation, and it’s the same for an ESA Letter. Make sure the service you choose includes a consultation with an LMHP.
2. State-specific medical licenses
A real ESA Letter needs to be written on the provider’s official letterhead and to include their state license number. In most cases, you need to get a letter from a provider who is licensed in the state you live in. Generic letters without the provider’s office contact information or license number are not valid.
3. Personalized data
Like the LMHP’s information, the patient’s details must be specific. Your letter should list your name and your diagnosis, along with the recommendation for an emotional support animal.
4. Signature and date
A letter must be signed and dated by the LMHP. While ESA Letters don’t expire in some states, many landlords request letters that are no more than a year old. An undated or unsigned letter probably won’t be accepted by your housing provider.
2021 Reviews: The Top ESA Letter Companies:
Here are the top ESA Letter providers on the internet.
Based on our research, Pettable is the clear winner. This company works with LMHPs in all 50 states and offers excellent customer service. You can even have your landlord call the Pettable support team if there are questions about your letter, which takes away a lot of the stress of approaching your housing provider to ask for accommodation for your ESA.
- Complete money-back guarantee even after you qualify for a letter if the document doesn’t work as intended
- Excellent value
- Express service option provides your letter in 24 hours
- Serves clients in all 50 states
- Multiple pets can be included in your letter at no extra charge
- Helpful customer service team with knowledge of ESA laws in each state
- Clear step-by-step evaluation process and fast turnaround time after approval
- Pricing information isn’t available unless you take the online pre-qualification quiz
- Some reviews mention lots of marketing emails
Bottom Line: With exceptional customer support and a satisfaction guarantee, Pettable is a reliable provider of legitimate ESA Letters.
US Service Animals
US Service Animals provides letters for ESAs and psychiatric service dogs (PSDs). You can see the letter prices right away without filling out a screening questionnaire or providing your contact information. However, the site sells several unnecessary services, including “registration” in a service and support animal registry database. Because there is no such official database, this aspect of the service is nothing more than a money-making scheme.
- Easily accessible customer support via phone, live online chat, email, snail mail, or an online contact form
- Spanish customer service is also available
- ESA Letter evaluation process includes a phone-based consultation with an LMHP with a full refund if you don’t qualify
- Legal support available from in-house attorneys
- Tries to sell many unnecessary (and pricey) add-ons like “official” registration
- Website is confusing and doesn’t clearly differentiate between ESAs, PSDs, and Service Dogs, which each have unique legal protections
Bottom Line:While US Service Animals does offer legitimate ESA Letters, including a telehealth evaluation with an LMHP, we’re skeptical of a company that also pushes many other services that are both expensive and unnecessary.
Emotional Pet Support
Emotional Pet Support provides ESA Letters and PSD Letters. The website claims it’s helped over 200,000 patients, and there is a 30-day money-back guarantee. However, the evaluation process is unclear. The company claims its “telehealth” service involves the therapist using a client’s answers to an online questionnaire to determine eligibility. It’s not clear whether there is a conversation via phone or video chat, so the letters may not meet legal requirements in some states.
- Customer support team provides excellent service throughout the entire process
- Lower prices than some other providers
- Free one-minute screening exam is available before you pay for the full evaluation questionnaire
- Letters may not be valid due to the lack of a live evaluation by an LMHP
- No indication of ongoing customer support for patients who have their letters questioned by housing providers
- No details about how long the approval process takes
Bottom Line: While the Emotional Pet Support site offers low prices and claims it has successfully helped hundreds of thousands of patients, the evaluation process is unclear, creating some questions about legitimacy.
Mango Clinic is an online provider that offers a wide range of services beyond ESA Letters. It’s also the only site we found that has “office hours,” meaning you can’t go through the process 24/7 whenever it’s convenient for you. That being said, the company’s scheduling service is extremely easy to use, so booking an appointment is simple.
- Scheduling (within available office hours) is quick and easy
- Evaluation process includes talking with a licensed doctor
- Money-back guarantee
- Company offers many unrelated medical services, so there may not be much expertise about ESA Letters
- Appointment times are restricted
- Higher prices
Bottom Line: While Mango Clinic offers legit ESA Letters that are valid in all 50 states, appointment times are limited, and the company doesn’t specialize in emotional support animal services.
Support Pets only offers ESA Letters, so you don’t have to worry about filtering through lots of different service options. The company ensures a quick turnaround time: 24-48 hours from the start of the process.
- 100% money-back guarantee and affordable prices
- While not legally necessary, vests and ID cards are available
- Easy-to-find customer support number and online contact form
- No details about legal support after you get your letter
- Website is a little hard to navigate
Bottom Line: A small site that focuses only on ESA Letters, Support Pets is a good choice for quick, affordable, no-frills service.
Like Emotional Pet Support, ESA Doctors seems to approve requests solely based on reviewing a patient’s answers to the online questionnaire. This means that an ESA Letter from this provider may not be valid.
- Quick process
- PSD documents also available
- Letters may not be valid because there is no telehealth evaluation
- “Priority” customer support costs extra
- No money-back guarantee after you qualify for a letter
Bottom Line: While the process to get a letter from ESA Doctors is fairly quick and simple, these documents may not be valid, and there is no promise of continued customer support unless you pay an additional fee.
American Service Pets
The American Service Pets website feels a little scammy, with text telling you to hurry to qualify “before the laws change.” This is another site that seems to determine eligibility just based on the online quiz rather than a live consultation with an LMHP, so the validity of an American Service Pets letter is questionable.
- 24/7 customer support including an online chat feature
- Partial money-back guarantee if you cancel within 30 days
- Packages are expensive and include unnecessary things like vests and ID cards
- Can’t see pricing information without filling out the screening quiz
- Site feels scammy, and letters may not be legitimate
Bottom Line: Based on the unclear evaluation process and uninformative website, we can’t ensure that American Service Pets is a reliable provider of ESA Letters.
United Service Dog
United Service Dog offers “registration” services, which aren’t legit or necessary. The company does seem to offer ESA Letters, but it’s hard to find many details about them on the site. Additionally, the company seems to use the terms ESA and Service Dog interchangeably, which is inaccurate and confusing.
- ESA Letter prices are affordable
- Contact information is easy to find
- Online quiz is used for ESA “evaluations,” so letters may be invalid
- Sells many expensive and pointless products and services
- Website is confusing and full of questionable information
Bottom Line: The United Service Dog site seems like a scam that focuses more on meaningless registration services than ESA Letters.
Going through an online provider is often the most convenient and inexpensive way to get a legitimate ESA Letter for your emotional support animal. Based on our research, Pettable’s clear evaluation process, good prices, and excellent customer support make it the best option.