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PSD & ESA Approvals in 24-48 Hours

psd letter

ESA & PSD Letter Approvals in 24-48 Hours

PSD vs ESA: Which One is Right for You (2023)? Unveiling the Key Differences and Benefits


PSD vs ESA: Animals do so much to assist us in different tasks such as hunting, plowing, herding, search and rescue, et cetera. They save us time, relieve our stress, and give us comfort.

Nowadays, many animals even become stewards of our mental health and physical well-being. Dogs, cats, and even some reptiles being in hospices is quite a common sight.

People with mental and physical disabilities often have their furry—or scaly, as the case may be—companion whenever they leave their homes.

These animals are psychiatric service dogs (PSD) and emotional support animals (ESA). What’s the difference between PSD vs ESA, you may ask? Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of it.

PSD vs ESA: An Overview of Emotional Support Animals

Emotional support animals give peace of mind to people suffering from mental health conditions just by merely existing. Quite literally—when it comes to emotional support animals, being there is enough. They don’t need to do anything at all.

They don’t receive training to do any special tasks. Think of them like that friend you want to come with you whenever you do something that makes you nervous — that, but cuter and fluffier.

Emotional support animals can be anything as long as they fit the bill. Animals such as dogs, cats, birds, pigs, guinea pigs, and ferrets easily get a pass. On a rare instance, even a gator named Wally became an emotional support animal.

Although there is no governing body that warrants emotional support animals to be registered, an ESA letter is always good to have. All you have to do is request one from a licensed mental health professional.

The letter would state that you suffer from a mental health condition, and the pet that you have helps you overcome it.

The mental conditions could be one of the following:

  • OCD
  • PTSD
  • Major Depressive Disorder
  • Schizophrenia and the likes

Allowed Access

You now have a certified ESA. What can you do with it? Of course, the first thing to do with it is to pet it for being good. Another thing that you can do is to let it live in your pet-free apartment without extra fees because now, it’s no longer just a pet. It now classifies as an assistance animal, so it gets special treatment.

If you’re thinking of taking your emotional support animals to board planes for free, though, let me stop you there. Recent revisions to the Air Carrier Access Act revoked that benefit except for service animals. So, unfortunately, you’d have to check your airline’s rules before traveling with your animal.

An Overview of Psychiatric Service Dogs


Psychiatric service dogs do more than just give you comfort. Unlike emotional support animals that support you by being there, psychiatric service dogs receive training to do a specific task to help a person suffering from mental conditions.

If you witness a psychiatric service dog in action, I think you’d be in awe. The qualities and tasks that psychiatric service dogs are usually trained to do are:

  • Smart and able to heed specialized voice commands.
  • Have great temperament and do not get distracted easily
  • Trained to detect anxiety attacks and bring you medication, water, or any object necessary.
    Alert you about an oncoming epileptic seizure.
  • If you are debilitated by your impairment, they can alert someone and get you help.

Another key difference between PSDs and ESAs is the fact that only dogs can be service animals – except for small horses. This is due to the definition set by the legislators that made the American Disabilities Act of 1990.

In Title II and Title III, the term service animal only refers to dogs. In 2010, ADA changed to include small horses as well, but that’s a story for another day.

Like emotional support animals, psychiatric service dogs are also not required to be registered. As long as a dog is trained to do a task to help a mentally impaired owner, it’s considered a service dog.

Allowed Access

Since service dogs are required to be in the presence of their person most of the time, they are generally exempt from no pet-allowed rules. This means that service dogs can access most places, like:

  • Apartments and housing spaces
  • Schools and universities
  • Hotels, restaurants, and shops
  • Hospitals
  • Emergency shelters

The only reason a service dog can be removed from the premises is when they are out of control and not housebroken. Given their intensive training, this is rarely the case.
Psychiatric service dogs are also allowed in practically any vehicle. Airlines and cruises allow service animals to accompany a passenger free of charge.

Can an Emotional Support Animal be a Psychiatric Service Dog?

For an emotional support animal to be a service animal, first and foremost, it has to be either a dog or in some cases, a horse. So, if your emotional support animal is anything other than those, the answer is already no.

Aside from this, the dog must also be trained, either by a professional or by you, to have the necessary qualifying abilities mentioned above. Of course, this can cost money and take time to do.

Lastly, you, the owner, must have a psychological or mental health condition affecting your quality of life, and your dog must play a part to overcome that.

If you meet the mentioned criteria, then there’s nothing stopping your ESA to be a PSD. By all means, you should proceed with it.

Is a PSD the same as an ESA?


No, a PSD (Psychiatric Service Dog) and an ESA are not the same (Emotional Support Animal). While both provide assistance to their owners, a PSD must be trained to perform tasks specific to the owner’s disability. ESAs, on the other hand, do not require any specialized training and can provide comfort to their owners simply by being present during difficult times.

What is PSA vs ESA?

A psychiatric service animal (PSA) is an animal that has been trained to assist people suffering from mental illnesses or learning disabilities and is protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). An emotional support animal (ESA), on the other hand, provides comfort to its owner but lacks specific training and is only covered by the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) and the Fair Housing Act (FHA) PSAs and ESAs are both prescribed to their owners to help them with mental impairments, but PSAs are trained to perform specific tasks and responses.

Is a PSA an ESA?

No, a PSA (Psychiatric Service Animal) and an ESA are not the same thing (Emotional Support Animal). While they both help people with psychological issues, their roles and regulations are not the same.

What does PSD stand for in service dog?

PSD stands for Psychiatric Service Dog in the context of service dogs. These dogs are trained to help people with mental illnesses and have the same legal rights as service dogs who help people with physical disabilities.

Do airlines allow PSD dogs?

Yes, psychiatric service dogs (PSDs) are permitted to fly in the cabin with their owners. All airlines accept the Service Animal Air Transportation Form from the Department of Transportation as proof that you have a PSD.

How do you get a PSD letter from a dog?

You must consult with a licensed healthcare professional or mental health therapist to obtain a PSD letter from a dog. One organization that provides quick and easy access to professional PSD/ESA letters is Service Paws USA. The letter serves as backup documentation for your condition and legally allows you to have a psychiatric service dog.


To sum it up, both ESAs and PSDs help their people cope with their mental conditions. Both can be recommended by a licensed mental health professional and require no registration.

Emotional support animals can be any animal that gives you comfort just by being present in times of distress. They are recognized by the Fair Housing Act, but not by the Air Carrier Access Act and American Disabilities Act.

Psychiatric service dogs are animals that receive training to do specific tasks to help a person suffering from mental impairment. They are recognized by the American Disabilities Act, Fair Housing Act, and Air Carrier Access Act.

If you liked this blog article about the comparison: PSD vs ESA, don’t forget to leave us a comment down below to tell us about your experience with these two.

Elisa Steffes

Elisa Steffes

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An emotional support animal, or ESA, is an animal companion that provides comfort and support to someone suffering from a mental or emotional disability such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder or a phobia. Emotional support animals and their owners have certain protections under federal and state laws. Landlords, Co-Ops, HOAs, and other housing providers must allow tenants to live with their ESAs free of charge, even if the building has a policy banning pets.

To have a valid emotional support animal, you must be in possession of a recommendation letter from a licensed health care professional (sometimes also referred to as a “licensed mental health professional” or “LMHP”). The ESA letter will establish that you have a disability and that an emotional support animal alleviates symptoms of that disability. Under federal law, this is the only legitimate way to qualify an animal companion as an emotional support animal.

A valid ESA letter is the only documentation you need in order to qualify an emotional support animal. Landlords cannot ask for a certificate, registration, license or ID, or insist that your ESA wear a vest. These items do not confer any legal status on emotional support animals. Some ESA owners use such items as tools to signal that their animal companion is an ESA, but they are not mandatory and do not function in lieu of an ESA letter as valid forms of proof for an ESA. There is also no need to register your ESA in a database or registry.

No, ESAs do not have an automatic legal right to be in grocery stores, restaurants, and hotels that prohibit animals. ESA owners have the legal right to be accompanied by their animal companion in their home pursuant to the Fair Housing Act. Only ADA service animals trained to perform tasks (such as seeing-eye dogs for the blind) have public access rights in places like grocery stores and restaurants. Some establishments such as hotels are not obligated by law to accommodate ESAs but will do so anyway as a courtesy. It is best to check with the hotel or other businesses to see if they have a policy regarding emotional support animals.

No, ESAs are not a scam. Regrettably, there is a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding on the internet when it comes to emotional support animals that puts an undeserved cloud over legitimate ESA owners and service companies. Contrary to some myths, there is a developed regulatory framework surrounding emotional support animals in the United States. ESAs are protected by federal laws and government agencies which enforce those laws. There are specific legal requirements that ESA owners must adhere to in order to obtain accommodation under law for their animal companion. Legitimate owners of emotional support animals must have documentation in the form of a recommendation letter from a licensed healthcare provider. Housing providers have the right to demand an ESA letter from the tenant before accommodating an ESA request.

There are also many legitimate emotional support animal services online such as You should proceed with caution with any website that promises that their certification, registration, license or ID will immediately qualify your pet as an emotional support animal. Websites that are not scams will instead connect you to a healthcare professional who is licensed for your state. That professional will conduct an independent assessment of whether an ESA is right for you and issue an ESA letter only if they determine that you qualify. Legitimate ESA companies online cannot guarantee to instantly qualify an emotional support animal, since that determination must come from an independent licensed professional after evaluating the client.


A psychiatric service dog (or PSD) is a type of service dog that has been individually trained to perform tasks relating to a handler’s mental, emotional or learning disability. Psychiatric service dogs have the same rights as other types of service dogs which assist handlers with physical disabilities. Service dogs have special access rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Fair Housing Act and Air Carrier Access Act. They are allowed to accompany their owners in the home, on-flights and in places where members of the public are generally allowed to go.

A psychiatric service dog is not the same thing as an ESA. The primary difference between a psychiatric service dog and an emotional support animal is that a PSD must be fully trained to perform tasks relating to a disability. A PSD in training does not yet qualify as a service dog. In contrast, ESAs are not required to have any specialized training. ESAs primarily provide comfort to their owners just through their presence and companionship. An ESA also requires a letter of recommendation from a licensed healthcare professional.

PSDs and ESAs also differ in terms of their access rights. ESAs have the right to live with their owners free of charge (even in buildings that prohibit pets) under federal Fair Housing laws and various state laws. PSDs have greater access rights under the ADA and ACAA – they can board flights as well as places generally open to the public like stores.

The other major difference between ESAs and PSDs is that an ESA can be a wide range of animals but a psychiatric service animal can only be a dog.

In order to qualify for a PSD, the handler must have a mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. That can include things like depression, anxiety, PTSD, phobias, learning disorders and autism. A licensed healthcare professional is best suited to determine whether you have a qualifying condition.

Under new rules that went into effect in January of 2021, PSDs can board the cabin free of charge as long as the handler submits the Department of Transportation’s Service Animal Transportation Form prior to boarding the flight. The form requires the handler to self-certify that their animal is a trained psychiatric service dog. It also requires information regarding the dog’s trainer (which can be the handler) and veterinarian. Only the handler is required to sign the form.

The ADA allows for service animals to be trained by the handler or through a professional. If the handler is confident and capable of training their psychiatric service dog, they are allowed to do so. It is not necessary to use any organization or professional trainer, although those alternatives may be useful for owners who are not experienced in training dogs.