Message Board > What should you choose, a service animal or ESA? -
What should you choose, a service animal or ESA? -
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Markus Gilbert
12 posts
Jan 26, 2022
9:29 PM

Once the key difference between these animals has been understood, follow the guide given below to find out which one you should opt for. While making a decision on what should a person choose an esa letter online or a support animal, the first thing is to know what these two actually are. A part of understanding their basic use is to find out what are the key or major differences between these two.



The next step in making the decision is to know the legalities and also whether a person himself or herself qualifies for getting assigned any of these two forms of animals. Once, found out if one is qualified to get an ESA letter for housing or shall go for a service animal the next step is to find out which animal is more qualified and suitable to your needs and proceed to a healthcare professional to get the letter of recommendation.


Given below are the complete details of the two types of animals, what they are used for, what are their main differences and how to choose one among them.


Emotional Support Animal (ESA)


This type of animal is the one that is used to give emotional support,  eradicate or resolve mental illnesses and provide comfort and company to the owner of the animal.


Emotional support animals are generally prescribed or recommended by a healthcare professional like a doctor, psychiatrist, psychologist, mental health therapist, etc to a person who is mentally not healthy or stable. The healthcare personnel not only recommends the animal but also signs the document called the ESA letter which legally permits the owner to sue the animal for emotional support.


         This letter provides many flexibilities and can be used as no-objection certificates for many causes. For instance, in housing societies that have a no pets allowed policy in practice, an emotional support dog letter allows the owner to get special permission from the landlord to keep a pet. Similarly, although pets are not allowed on flights and some other modes of travel, this letter can be used to get a special grant to carry pets (ESA animals) on the flight.


Service Animal

Service animals on the other hand are the dogs that have been specially trained to provide assistance to disabled individuals in carrying out various of their daily life activities. The service animal can be the dog of any species. The owners given assistance may have physical, mental, sensory, intellectual, psychiatric, or any other similar form of disability.


Tasks that these service dogs are trained to perform include picking up the items from the floor that have been dropped by the owner, pulling the wheelchair, reminding their owner and helping them take medicine, assisting the possessors in using the elevators, responding to sounds, and alerting owners too.


  • Psychiatric Service Dog helps individuals with psychiatric or mental issues. The tasks they are trained for include giving medicines, turning on and off electricity supplies and other gadgets, providing security checks, preventing them from suicide and self-mutilation. Seizure Response Dog is specially assigned to persons who often get seizures.

  • Service dogs are of many kinds depending upon the purpose for which they are used by the owners. For instance, a seeing-eye or guide dog is often assigned to blind or visually impaired individuals and is used as a helping tool and guide during travels.

  • Signal or Hearing Dog is the one used for persons with hearing deficiencies or deafness and is trained to respond to doorbells, phone bells, and also let their owners know about the knock or sound.


Key Difference

The primary difference between these two types of animals is that a service animal is the one that is trained by the professionals to perform specialized tasks whereas an emotional support animal has no training in carrying out physical tasks. An emotional support animal can be any animal: an emotional support animal letter, an ESA cat, an ESA fish, or whatever the owner and physician unanimously decide. Whereas a service animal is always from the species of a dog as they are more easily trained and perform very well according to the training they are given.



Check for qualification


For owner

The first step in the process of deciding which one shall be taken by an individual is to check for the qualifications of the one in need of the animal. 


A person that just needs psychological, and emotional support, a companion due to mental or psychiatric disturbances, qualifies to be used as an ESA. 


For an individual to qualify for a service animal must have a disability among the list of disabilities listed above, that hinders normal life activities, and limits the sustainability of the person.


Once done with checking one’s qualification, the next step is to check whether the animal qualifies as an ESA or a service animal.




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