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I assume you would do the same types of planning as if you were going to bring your pet dog.

So look for dog friendly accommodations, dog friendly cafes etc.
 

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Exactly the same as planning with a pet dog. If you are planning to keep your Esa in the cabin on any flights, contact the airline and ask what documents you need to present.


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As per my document say the ESA letter is applicable for both housing and Flying. I called the airline services and they said the letter is legitimate as per their guidelines. Thank God, I selected a trust worthy website.
 

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There actually are no “trustworthy websites” for that. Fortunately for you the airline doesn’t seem to know that. Only a healthcare or mental healthcare professional who has actually seen you is legally allowed to make prescriptions, and that’s what an ESA is; a prescription. But it sounds like you won’t be given any issues by your airline because of it.


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Actually that's not true. Qualified and licensed mental health professionals are doing phone and electronic counseling more and more these days to accommodate the needs of clients who can't leave their houses due to various transportation and other legitimate barriers, both socioeconomic and due to illnesses and symptoms and have troubles with attendance.
It's a growing field, designed to meet clients' needs and stop them getting banned from services after ridiculous no show rules. It also helps therapists survive and still be able to eat since they don't get fired by ruthless profit driven money hungry agencies for not meeting client quotas of "you have to see forty clients every week no matter what or you get fired". Human services should not be about making ridiculous quotas and treating living people like numbers and ignoring symptoms and real life circumstances of why people can't always get to every session.

To meet that expectation, therapists have to double book and schedule eighty clients a week. Nasty cycle that causes more stress for all involved.

Phone and electronic counseling is now regulated by licensing boards, continuing education courses and graduate schools and taught in ethics courses so licensed mental health professionals can be taught ethical guidelines on appropriate specific consent forms and informed consent on limitations and specific risks of this service.

But it is very possible to do a very thorough assessment and form a strong therapeutic bond with someone and get historical information to determine whether an ESA would be beneficial to them or not.

I have clients I have worked with for years who email and call me asking for help and advice and email me pictures of their dogs and tell me how being able to have this dog in their lives has helped them function and start to heal to begin to go to more treatment. Or been the one thing that got then through flying to a family visit, or gets them up and functioning daily and out of the house when if not for their ESA they would literally never leave.

If the professional licensing boards are accepting and governing phone and electronic counseling, including writing letters when appropriate, that holds much more weight than a negative opinion on a thread where someone was looking for helpful advice.

That's why all the legitimate professional job sites now have listings for electronic counselors. It's a huge growing market.

To the op, I'd call hotels and say you're traveling with your dog and he is an ESA, so is mandated to be allowed in housing. Hotels aren't really housing so don't technically have to accommodate you but they could. Holiday inn is a hotel chain that is known for being pet friendly. If you show your ESA letter it should mention that federal law requires that ESAs are required to be allowed in all housing with no fees, they could be nice and not charge fees if your dog is quiet, well behaved and causes no damage.

He should be allowed in the cabin of the plane with you for no extra charge, that's also current federal law. As long as he's healthy, UTD on vaccines and has a vet health and behavior certificate and is quiet and well behaved in public and not aggressive or sick, or poses any danger to the public through his health or behavior..
Some airlines do impose weight limits of dogs and also ban some breeds like pit bulls or brachycephalic dogs.
 

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@Shadowmom - I've used electronic counseling and it's great! It's different than a site geared toward producing ESA letters though. An online therapist that suggests you need an ESA and is willing to write a letter is fantastic; a site where you pay a fee and get a letter no matter what is just a cash grab that serves to delegitimize ESAs.

To the OP, I'd check and double check with the airline that your documentation is sufficient; nothing worse than showing up to the gate and being turned away by whomever is on duty. And having an ESA only gets your dog on the flight, you can still be kicked off if your dog is poorly behaved AND you don't get any rights to non-pet-friendly accommodations or activities.
 

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By the way there are several websites that only hire licensed mental health professionals and do safety and background checks on candidates, and are as thorough with recruiting and background and safety checking, as any hospital or other face to face job.
 

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Electronic counseling is completely different than the scam websites that take your money and “register” your ESA or SA. I know many people who have lost their money to these shady sites only to find out the truth; there is no registry.

As someone with a legitimate ESA myself, I had EXTREME difficulty getting my dog prescribed because of sites like these. They make it so anyone who wants one can label their pet and they muddy the water for those of us who need our ESAs and many LIE about what that means. I’ve had friends “register their birds as service animals” on these sites; legally birds cannot be service animals. I’ve known people to be told their ESA has public access!

My “negativity” is in NO WAY directed at the OP’s desire for or need for an ESA, I have no way to judge that even if I were a qualified mental health professional. But these websites are shady and underhanded at best, and downright scams at worst.

My deep hope is that the OP will be able to get where he/she needs to go with their dog and that if they truly need an ESA that they will never have problems keeping theirs. But counseling online is not at all the same as these online ESA/SA registries.


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Poppykenna some sites do both and aren't just cash grabs. I actually work for one site that is an ESA site. I have for years and have many long term clients who live too far to see me in person but I take everything about my communication with them as seriously as every other job I've ever had. I do extensive assessments on everyone I work with. And get thanked for it by the clients and emailed pictures of their dogs and told at least weekly how their ESAs have changed and saved their lives. Cats too by the way.

The company I work for takes client safety, confidentiality and ethical standards of treatment just as seriously as as other agency I've ever worked for. They provide the ESA letters and documents but actively encourage me and other therapists to see the clients and follow them as private practice clients in whatever capacity is possible.

So they have always conveyed great compassion and care for clients' well being. Much more than the last few hospitals and managed care corporations I have worked who only cared about billing, funding and moving patients through the system quickly. Spending more than twenty minutes with a patient once or twice a week was frowned upon as inefficient. And incidentally cause for disciplinary action to spend too long with patients. In a hospital or counseling agency. Lovely.

Current "ESA letter" company encourages me to be thorough and regularly sends me emails thanking me for my kindness and compassion in my thorough work with every client.

People should really refrain from generalizing, stigmatizing and bashing any group as a whole. I could literally post about 100-200 direct quotes from my clients thanking me for my "life-saving help" and also praising the company for being helpful to them when they needed it.
Company also has 24/7 staff available to advocate for every single client just to deal with all the nasty prejudicial biased landlords and airlines who deliberately try to break the law daily and deny them their rights and bully people disabled by symptoms and past trauma.

Some of these major national airlines have also lumped all ESAs together with service dogs and randomly made new discriminatory rules. One airline flatly states " no dogs in the airline cabin over 60(or 65 I forget which) pounds. That's no service dogs or ESAs despite their being federal laws mandating both to be allowed free in the cabin with appropriate documentation.

Another major airline flatly states on it's website that no pitbulls or bully type dogs will be allowed in any airline cabins, either as service dogs or as ESAs. Again defying federal laws. Completely disgusting discriminatory behavior.

The company I work for helps clients 24/7 with all that BS, as well as sleazy landlords determined to ban animals and torture clients, at all costs.

This site is really the only one I've seen with so many people that are so forceful about how wonderful dogs are, and any method of training other than positive reinforcement is so awful and all that.

But all that positivity comes across as sadly hypocritical and disgustingly fake with the amount of hostile negative judgmental and blatantly WRONG bs bashing of everything to do with ESAs.

They are legitimate, they fulfill a HUGE need in the population. Professionals who help authorize them are not all money hungry quacks looking to scam the world. The dogs, cats and animals themselves are usually from my experience extremely loved and cared for and trained to be polite. They can exist alongside service dogs, they're not taking anything away from those highly trained animals.
Some people try to abuse the system or don't know how to train their dogs and things can always happen even with the best trained animal. That doesn't make every therapist, company and client a fraud and money hungry scam artist.

I have an ancient horse who's competed with me in at least six states. I've had her for over 22 years; anyone had a dog that long lol? We're literally soulmates at this point and can read each other's minds and she follows me loose everywhere. She's almost 30 and she has some sight issues, cataracts, cyst on one eye, health problems, etc. Last night I was brushing her(she's shedding like you wouldn't believe) and my dog was sitting quietly behind her. Something fell and crashed loud, scared all the horses. She's always been more nervous, especially the past few years with her sight problems so with the noise she went crazy. Bolted and freaked. If I had the dog sitting in front of her instead of behind her, he'd be in the hospital being put back together right now.

She's perfectly trained, will move to my voice or light touch, we've won ribbons jumping, she'd never deliberately hurt me, if I ever fell off her she'd literally hurt herself stopping so as not to step on me and not move from my side til she saw that I got up and was back riding her. But stuff happens. Babies go crazy in planes with the pressure changes hurting their ears. Dogs might be good most places and have a strange set of triggers hit them that make them look temporarily look worse than they really are.

The prejudice and negativity against ESAs and anyone who helps authorize them, or God forbid has them, has gotten really old. It's forbidden to mention a correction for dogs who bite but it's acceptable to bash people with mental and physical health issues and legitimate professionals who work with them? I'm sorry but that's ridiculous and blatantly hypocritical.
My migraine doctor who I've had for ten or eleven years now randomly wrote me a letter to have my dog be an ESA a few years ago when I mentioned that it was tough to find apartments that took large dogs in my city and I was moving and the stress of moving was making my migraines worse. I never even thought to ask. My dogs, both past and present always could tell when I'm sick or have a migraine and are extra clingy. Emotionally support, whether for physical or emotional issues.

I never used the letter as I found a place with no pet fees and everyone here has one to three dogs. I guarantee my doctor is a legitimate medical doctor. He's amazing. I have atypical vestibular migraines and went for two years to dozens of specialists and every kind of medical test. No one had any clue and I couldn't drive, work or function. Took this doctor five minutes to diagnose and one medication. Other neurologist just said yeah who knows good luck.
 

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I don't think this should turn into another ESA argument thread but I really don't know that people here are "anti ESA" but rather "anti-take-advantage" of animal laws.

For every lifesaving ESA there are so many that just aren't needed and have been registered to try and scam the system. One of my best friends has a sister that moved to Germany with her cats; her and her husband had them registered as ESAs just so they could fly in the cabin with them for free (neither has documented mental health issues, neither needs an ESA). Unfortunately that has happened all too often and the pay-for-a-letter sites make it way too easy to do so. As a result, ESAs have kind of lost all legitimacy in the general public's view. I think they're great and necessary but I do think some of these sites need to be devalued - not all, but some.
 

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It would be nice to have a thread where the op is asking for help booking travel with her already approved ESA NOT have people jumping on the judgmental condemnation bandwagon of how ESAs in general are illegitimate and so are everyone who certifies them.

I just gave concrete examples of the company I work for and at least one other that holds high ethical and professional standards of not being scams but really working hard to employ legitimate mental health licensed caring professionals who work hard daily to help people.

Not a debate but FACTS based on YEARS of firsthand work. The topic of this post was suggestions of how to book a vacation with an already approved ESA, not where to go to certify one.

People just HAVE to jump on the negative bandwagon to be negative judgmental hypocrites, and spread harmful WRONG misinformation when they don't actually know anything about the slander they're spreading. Ironic for a site to be saying it's "positive based and welcoming". Also shuts down any mention of any training methods not approved of, whether proven effective or not.
But no problem spreading SLANDER about legitimate professionals trying to help people. Even when presented with actual firsthand facts, misinformation and malicious slander continues. Very sad, and harmful.
 

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Hi @Shadowmom I know this is off topic but no show rules aren't ridiculous. Having mine in place has made working way more pleasant and my patients get better outcomes because they value the service I provide and I'm not super stressed because I'm trying to catch up. I also need my patients to show up to make a decent living, expecting them to give at least 12 hours notice for cancelling and show up within the first half of their appointment really isn't too much of an ask. If they can not do that it's an indication that they need to have access to further services like transport or carers. Though sometimes it's just people being disrespectful, this I've learnt to nip in the bud because those clients usually end up turning nasty when their outcomes don't meet their expectation, they won't hear a bar of it being about non-compliance.

This is just my experience working in health, but not in mental health.
 

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Chas I can certainly see your points but the people Ive worked with for decades have transportation and life and support and health issues. Many have multiple medical issues and just can't reliably get places on time. Transportation is great but not reliable either. They'll call ride services a week before and wait two hours and be frustrated waiting and miss surgery consults that took six months to book.
It's also the nature of depression and bipolar disorder to have days that people are too symptomatic to get out of bed to eat or shower. Getting to work or appointments is beyond overwhelming and impossible at times.

I'm not disabled from my migraines but I didn't always have the luxury of twrlce hours notice to cancel appointments. And I felt so dizzy and nauseated there was no way I could get to appointments at times. Also having a hundred mile round trip commute and jobs that forced overtime made it tough to get to appointments on time. There were many times I'd leave two hours before an appointment and traffic would make me ten to fifteen minutes late and I'd be told to reschedule, three months later. Frustrating after taking half a day off.
Phone and electronic counseling solves many of these issues for both stressed working clients and people with severe symptoms and socioeconomic stress and no or unreliable supports. Helping professionals should not add to the stress of people they're trying to help.
 
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