Emotional Support Animal (ESA)

Psychiatric Service Dogs (PSD)


To qualify for an ESA letter in California, you need a mental health professional to determine that you have a qualifying mental health condition. They will then issue a letter stating that an emotional support animal is part of your therapeutic treatment.


In California, ESA owners have the right to live in pet-restricted housing and can travel with their animals in the cabin of an airplane without paying an additional fee. However, ESAs do not have public access rights like service dogs.


While an ESA provides emotional support through companionship, a Psychiatric Service Dog is specifically trained to perform tasks that help with a person’s psychiatric disabilities. PSDs have broader public access rights, including entry to most public spaces.


No, to qualify for a Service Dog letter in California, you must have a disability recognized under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The dog must also be trained to perform tasks that mitigate your disability.


Yes, Service Dogs in California must be individually trained to perform tasks that directly assist with the handler’s disability. There are no specific certification or registration requirements, but proper training is essential for a Service Dog to be considered well-behaved in public spaces.