What Are Emotional Support Animals?

What Are Emotional Support Animals?

Traveling through the Denver International Airport, you may come across people traveling with their emotional support animal (ESA), but what exactly is that?

An emotional support animal’s primary job is to provide companionship, comfort, and security to its owner during times of stress. They can also be companions to people who suffer from mental and emotional disabilities. It’s important to note that ESAs are not considered to be service animals, so they do not require specific training.

You may be wondering, what kind of animals can qualify as an emotional support animal. Let’s take a look below.


Dogs are perhaps the most popular emotional support animal you’ll find in airports. Studies have shown that the presence of these four-legged friends can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. While some dog breeds are better suited for this job than others, there is currently no legal requirement for an emotional support dog to be a certain breed.


Cat owners all over the world will be pleased to know that their furry friend can be an emotional support animal. Cats are ideal candidates for people who need a support animal because they are calm, intelligent and affectionate. Like dogs, there are certain cat breeds that tend to fare better over others, like the Scottish Fold, Tonkinese, and Ragdoll. If you’d like to make your cat an emotional support animal, all you have to do is get an ESA letter from a licensed therapist that states your cat is qualified to be an emotional support animal.


Believe it or not, birds can also be considered as an ESA. While you may have a difficult time finding a therapist to approve a bird as an emotional support pet, they legally qualify as an ESA.

Emotional Support Animals FAQ

What’s The Difference Between A Service Animal And An ESA?

When someone says that his or her dog is a service animal, they are saying that their pet has been specifically trained to perform certain tasks for them. Service animals are common among people with disabilities who need a little extra help. Some service animal tasks may include pulling a wheelchair or helping a visually-impaired person cross the street. These animals are able to accompany people in public places, including state and local government buildings and businesses open to the public. The law that allows a service dog to accompany someone with a disability falls under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

An emotional support animal is a species that provides certain therapeutic benefits to its owner. Oftentimes, those with an ESA suffer from mental disorders or psychiatric disabilities. These animals are not trained like service animals, and they do not have access to public spaces and buildings like a service animal does. The Fair Housing Act (FHA) also states that an emotional support animal is viewed as a “reasonable accommodation” in housing and apartment complexes that require a “no pet” rule for its residents.

How Can I Get An Emotional Support Animal Letter?

Now that you know what kinds of animals can qualify to become an ESA, you may be wondering how you can obtain a letter, so you can travel with your furry companion. You need to obtain an emotional support letter from a licensed medical professional that states you are limited by a specific disability that affects your mental well-being. Your ESA letter should include the following things:

  • A letterhead from your mental health professional’s office, as well as the date that the ESA was issued
  • Your mental health professional’s license type, license number, and the state at which the license was issued
  • Written confirmation that your condition requires the support of an ESA
  • Your name, as well as details about your pet

Can I Bring My ESA To Work?

Many people with an ESA wonder if they can bring their pet to the workplace. While employers are not legally required to allow emotional support animals in the office, it is something your employer may consider if you truly need the accommodation. If your boss decides it’s okay for you to bring Fido into the office, you’ll want to make sure he is well-trained and will not pose a risk to anyone in the office.

What About College?

Yes! If an individual needs a support animal to accompany him or her to school or college, the institution is legally allowed to let this happen. This is great news for people who suffer from social anxiety disorders or obsessive compulsive disorders, as they tend to get stressed out in public spaces.

Am I Allowed To Bring My ESA To A Hotel?

This is a tricky question. Hotels laws tend to differ depending on the hotel branch, so it’s always wise to check with the hotel before booking a room for you and your ESA. Some hotels say that they do not accept ESAs, while others are happy to accommodate.

We hope that this article has cleared up any questions you had about emotional support animals and who can qualify for an ESA. If you’re flying out of the Denver International Airport and you’re looking for affordable and remote airport parking, park your vehicle with ParkDIA. We have 7,500 parking spaces in our near DIA parking lot, so there is always one waiting for you when you need it. Check out our airport parking rates and options online, or download our mobile app to reserve your space today.

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