How To Get an Emotional Support Animal in California?

A boy and his emotional support dog are on the road in California
Little Doggy
Written by Little Doggy

An Emotional Support Animal in California is a new trend of psychological treatment to people that have mental health disorders. California State in the United States has the most progressive laws for emotional support animals and their owners in the country. California punishes landlords that fail to accommodate emotional support animals. Almost 40% of complains to the Department of Housing and Urban Development are about disability discrimination, even with ESA Letter.

In this article, I explain more how to get an emotional support letter in California, service animals in California, and therapy animals in California. Also, you can find info on how to register an emotional support animal in the state and California laws for them.

Notice: There are affiliate links in the article – and if you buy something by using one of those links – I’ll get compensation. Thank you.

What is an Emotional Support Animal in California?

Emotional Support Animals in California provide therapeutic treatment to those suffering from anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD, AHDH, and other mental health disorders. People with mental health conditions felt the presence of an animal is enough to be happier and struggle with their disorder. 

Residents of the Golden State can choose any type of domesticated animals: dog, cat, peacock, domestic pig, etc. to register pet as an emotional support animal. ESA Pet in California doesn’t require some training to perform specific tasks. But for getting an emotional support animal letter, you should show proof of your mental health conditions to a licensed mental health professional. You can certify your dog as an emotional support dog in California without a lot of paperwork.

Emotional Support Animal Laws in California

An emotional support animal is defined as a pet that provides companionship, emotional support and a sense of well-being to their owners. People feel much better with their pets and reduce the stress level. They support their owner in response to symptoms relating to anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders. That’s why California Laws for emotional support animals don’t require specific training.

You should keep in mind that emotional support animals are not allowed to all public places: libraries, hotels, shops, restaurants, hospitals, etc. The law for emotional support animals applies to public transport in which they are not allowed.
Three main laws protect emotional support animals in California. ESA Laws California includes the Fair Employment and Housing Act and the Air Carrier Access Act.

A woman is playing with an emotional support dog

Employment Laws of Emotional Support Animal in California

California’s Fair Employment and House Act states that employers shouldn’t discriminate with regards to an employee’s disability and they must provide reasonable effort to adapt to their disability within the workplace. If an employee needs an animal, a company has to make an exception for an emotional support animal. An employer may request documentation that shows proof that the owner needs an emotional support animal. ESA Letter helps you to use this right. 

Even if your pet provides emotional support to you, you must have a proper ESA Letter for employers to recognize.

Emotional Support Animal Rental Laws California

California’s Fair Housing Act protects people with emotional support animals. It tells that a landlord must allow an emotional support animal to live with their owner in a rental apartment. Landlords cannot restrict a renter because they have an emotional support animal and ask for a pet deposit.

A landlord may ask a renter with an emotional support animal to show documentation supporting the fact of disability and specifics of your diagnosis.

You don’t need to provide any other registrations, certifications about emotional support animals. It doesn’t require by the law. You need an ESA letter to show proof of your needs.

A landlord may be charged a fine of up to $200,000 if they discriminate against people with disabilities and mental health disorders.

Travel Laws For Emotional Support Animals in California

If you are going to travel with your pet, the Air Carrier Access Act covers disabled people and emotional support animals on airplanes. An emotional support letter allows you to take your animal to the cabin of an aircraft. 

To fly with your pet, you need to get an ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional declaring your mental health disability and the need for the animal.

Keep in mind that some airlines as American Airlines, Alaska Air, Delta, United Airlines, Spirit, and Frontier Airlines ask for filling additional documents before your flight date. You should be careful with them because, without them, you can’t take your pet with you.

Public Transportation Laws in California For Emotional Support Animals

California Emotional Support Animal Laws don’t allow you to take your pet on public transportation: trains, buses, etc. Only service and psychiatric animals have access to it.

Emotional Support Dog Laws in California

Emotional support dogs in California don’t have any specific laws. They are the same as other emotional support animals. You don’t need to get any documents and registrations for your dog except for getting an ESA letter for you.

California Emotional Support Animal Law respects the rights of emotional support dogs and other animals.

A girl hugs her an emotional support dog

California Emotional Support Animal Registration

As I mentioned above, for registering your animal as an emotional support animal in California, you should get an ESA letter. You should get an Emotional Support Animal Letter (ESA) in California from a licensed mental health professional.
You can find a lot of scams on the Internet to register your dog as emotional support, purchase emotional support animal on Amazon – it’s a scam.

The right emotional support animal letter has three main criteria:

  1. It should be written in the letterhead of a licensed mental health professional;
  2. A doctor’s signature and license number;
  3. The day of expiry.

All airlines and landlords check this info on ESA letter because of a lot of people but non-legal certifications of emotional support animals. Be careful with that!

You have only two legal way to get an emotional support animal letter in California:

  1. Ask an offline therapist about an ESA letter. If you attend your doctor regularly, it won’t be complicated to get an ESA letter. Especially if an LMHP assumes that your animal reduces your mental health conditions and you feel better. If you don’t have your therapist, you should find someone in your area and start visiting a doctor regularly before writing an ESA letter for you. He/she should check your conditions and understand your diagnosis.
  2. Get an ESA letter online. It’s one of the most popular ways to get a message. You don’t need to spend time attending offline therapists. 
  • You should fill a form on the website and reply to questions about your mental health, feelings, diagnosis, and what kind of pills you have ever taken from your disorder. 
  • After that, a doctor may call you to clarify your diagnosis and ask a few questions.
  • If a doctor approves you for getting an ESA letter, you will receive it in 48 hours.
Register an Emotional Support Animal in California Steps

If you decided to get an ESA letter online in California, you should be sure that you would get a letter from a licensed mental health professional from California. If you get a letter from a doctor that isn’t in California, but you are, it could be denied. Any ESA Certification in California isn’t legal. 

I recommend you firstly check the offer on the online website for getting ESA in California. 

What is a Service Animal in California?

Sometimes, people confused with the meaning of emotional support animals and service animals. First of all, they have different purposes for their owners. And they have different rights. 

Service animals have been trained to perform tasks that assist disabled people. Only dogs and miniature horses are allowed to pet the ADA in the U.S… 

Service dogs in California can visit public places while emotional support animals can’t. Service animals must have a certification that a dog or a miniature horse graduated training. Service dog laws in California are the same with emotional support animals. They are protected by California law and Federal law in housing, travel, and employment.

The service dog apartment laws in California are:

  • Landlords cannot refuse access to your service animal. Because a service dog is considered as a therapeutic tool and not a pet.
  • Landlords cannot charge monthly pet fees, a higher pet deposit, and breed or weight discrimination in California. 

The ADA allows any breed or weight restrictions being a service dog or emotional support dog.

You can’t buy a certification for a service dog because it must be trained. Only after that, you can make your dog as a service animal in California.

What is a Therapy Dog in California?

A therapy dog has the same sense as an emotional support animal, but it has different rights and goals for people. If an emotional support dog provides affection, comfort, and support to its owner, a therapy dog does the same but to a group of people. It may be schools, hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, etc. They do their job not only for its owner.

Therapy animals don’t have the same rights in California. These animals are defined but not covered or protected under the Americans with Disability Act or the Federal Housing Act. They also don’t have public access rights. California doesn’t have specific laws for therapy dogs.

For getting a therapy dog certification in California, your animal should get an AKC certification. Your dog should be socialized and calm with other animals and people. It will be the first to rest on behaviors. If it has good behavior, a dog should sign up for specific classes. The first class is about “distraction-proofing,” which teaches the dog’s ability to focus. And therapy training to prepare the dog and its owner for therapy visits. People see real results after visiting a therapy pet.

An emotional support dog enjoys the Ocean in California

Companion Animal Laws California

A companion animal doesn’t have specific work. It provides the only companionship. Most of the companion animals are dogs. People use them only for the pleasure of their company, not as workers or a part of the treatment.
Companion dogs in California don’t have any specific laws. They are not allowed in public places. You should pay housing fees and travel fees. So, it a typical dog, that’s why it doesn’ covered by laws in California.

Where to Take Your Emotional Support Animal in California?

TOP 5 Dog-Friendly Beaches in Los Angeles, CA:

  1. Rosie’s Dog Beach, LA
  2. Granada Beach, LA
  3. Del Mar Beach, LA
  4. Huntington Dog Beach, LA
  5. Coronado Dog Beach, LA

TOP 5 Dog-Friendly Restaurants in Los Angeles, CA:

  1. The Fat Dog, North Hollywood, CA
  2. Blue Dog Beer Tavern, Sherman Oaks, CA
  3. Pub at Golden Road Brewing, Los Angeles, CA
  4. Momed Atwater Village, Los Angeles, CA
  5. Little Dom’s, Los Angeles, CA

TOP 5 Dog-Friendly San Diego Hotels:

  1. Old Town Inn, San Diego, CA
  2. Bahia Resort Hotel, San Diego, CA
  3. Paradise Point Resort & Spa, San Diego, CA
  4. Red Roof Inn San Diego, CA
  5. InterContinental, San Diego, CA

TOP 5 Dog-Friendly San Diego Beaches:

  1. Mission Bay Park, San Diego, CA
  2. The Original Dog Beach, San Diego, CA
  3. Fiesta Island Dog Park, San Diego, CA
  4. Coronado Dog Beach, San Diego, CA
  5. San Elijo State Beach, San Diego, CA

TOP 5 Dog-Friendly San Jose Hotels:

  1. Fairmont, San Jose, CA
  2. Extended Stay America, San Hose, CA
  3. Residence Inn by Marriott, San Jose South, CA
  4. E-Z 8 Motel, San Jose, CA
  5. Motel 6, San Jose, CA

TOP 5 Dog-Friendly San Francisco Eat and Drink Places:

  1. The Spots, San Francisco, CA
  2. Hook Fish Co, San Francisco, CA
  3. Kitchen Story, San Francisco, CA
  4. Novy Restaurant, San Francisco, CA
  5. A Mano, San Francisco, CA

TOP 5 Dog-Friendly Hotels in Fresno:

  1. La Quinta Inn & Suites, Fresno, CA
  2. La Quinta Fresno Riverpark, Fresno, CA
  3. VRBO, Fresno, CA
  4. Best Western PLUS Village Inn, Fresno, CA
  5. Days Inn, Fresno, CA


California laws define service animals, emotional support animals under the same standards as the Americans with Disabilities Act and The Fair Employment and Housing Act. Therapy pets and companion pets don’t have the same laws in California. 

If you want to know if you qualify for an ESA letter, you should contact a mental health professional in California. You have two options: get an ESA letter online or visit an offline therapist. Keep in mind that only if you have an ESA letter, you can use California Laws for Emotional Support Animals. Be prepared, know your rights because landlords and airlines might try to deny your rights.


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Little Doggy

Little Doggy