An emotional support animal (ESA) – sometimes referred to as an assistance animal – is an animal that provides companionship, comfort, support, and security to individuals who suffer from mental or emotional, and sometimes physical illnesses or disabilities. This can include PTSD, chronic pain, panic attacks, anxiety, depression, and various health issues, such as high blood pressure Because an ESA’s role is to primarily provide comfort and security, the types of ESAs are broad. Some common types of ESAs include dogs, pigs, cats, ferrets, monkeys, miniature horses, hamsters, fish.
Unlike service animals, an ESA does not require any specific training. However, an “ESA letter” from a qualified mental health professional who practices in your province is required to be covered by ESA laws across Canada. Otherwise, the animal is simply considered a normal (companion) pet. While provinces vary on the regulation of ESAs, there is no law in Canada that requires an individual to register their ESA or obtain certification for an ESA. Rather, an ESA letter may be required to demonstrate that an individual requires an ESA in order for it to have access to certain places like airplanes, public places, and employment and housing. The ESA letter must be provided by a licensed mental health professional who is in good standing with the law. This means that they must comply with the Canada Health Act. The contents of this letter will generally disclose information about the owner and why an ESA is needed. The contents of an ESA letter may vary depending on the need for the letter. In the context of travel, the ESA letter should: