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Old 28.08.2020, 14:12
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Doctor for Emotional Support Animal

Hello EF!
My husband and I are moving back to the U.S. The airlines in the U.S. have changed their rules and now require both a vet and a doctor note stating that the your animal is an emotional support animal. Has anyone worked with a doctor in Zurich regarding getting a note like this?
Thank you!
Paige
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Old 28.08.2020, 14:24
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Re: Doctor for Emotional Support Animal

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Hello EF!
My husband and I are moving back to the U.S. The airlines in the U.S. have changed their rules and now require both a vet and a doctor note stating that the your animal is an emotional support animal. Has anyone worked with a doctor in Zurich regarding getting a note like this?
Thank you!
Paige
What´s an emotional support animal, is this another of those weird American thingies?
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Old 28.08.2020, 14:36
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Re: Doctor for Emotional Support Animal

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What´s an emotional support animal, is this another of those weird American thingies?
I guess. And presumably this is an attempt to avoid having to put the animal in the cargo hold as per normal procedure.

In one very real sense, of course, all pets are emotional support animals, but most of us can bear to part with them for a few hours at a time.
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Old 28.08.2020, 15:08
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Re: Doctor for Emotional Support Animal

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotional_support_animal

I think the OP needs to ask their doctor/vet about this. Honestly I think the concept is probably going to be foreign to both of them so it would be a question of convincing them you actually need this animal with you in the plane for your well being rather than in the cargo hold.

Nor, looking at this, could you just ask any doctor to approve this for you.

"The required documentation for US-based airlines is a letter, printed on a healthcare provider's letterhead, that meets all of the following requirements:[10][15]

is from a currently licensed mental health professional,
is no more than one year old,
states that the passenger has a mental health-related disability listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (but need not say which disability the passenger has),
states that having the animal accompany the passenger is necessary to the passenger’s mental health or treatment or to assist the passenger,
states that the individual providing the assessment of the passenger is a licensed mental health professional,
states that the passenger is currently being treated by this mental health professional, and
lists the date and type of the professional’s license and the state or jurisdiction in which it was issued."

And what type of animal are we even talking about here?
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Old 28.08.2020, 15:11
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Re: Doctor for Emotional Support Animal

Out of interest, how does that work? You can take your dog/cat in the cabin? How about people who are allergics to dogs/cats who may also be on the flight?
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Old 28.08.2020, 15:39
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Re: Doctor for Emotional Support Animal

First step talk to your airline. Get their requirements which could very well be different from US domestic flights. For example Swiss only accepts in the cabin animals less than 8kg and a maximum of two animals in the cabin on any flight.

Expect challenges importing your animal into the US.
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Old 28.08.2020, 15:43
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Re: Doctor for Emotional Support Animal

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Out of interest, how does that work? You can take your dog/cat in the cabin? How about people who are allergics to dogs/cats who may also be on the flight?
When you make your booking call your airline and notify them of your allergy. They can tell you if a cabin animal is already booked on your flight and if there is, give you an option to change. If there isn’t they can put a block on future bookings.

If it’s an allergy such as peanuts they can coordinate with the catering department and flight crew to take appropriate action.
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Old 28.08.2020, 16:09
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Re: Doctor for Emotional Support Animal

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotional_support_animal

I think the OP needs to ask their doctor/vet about this. Honestly I think the concept is probably going to be foreign to both of them so it would be a question of convincing them you actually need this animal with you in the plane for your well being rather than in the cargo hold.

Nor, looking at this, could you just ask any doctor to approve this for you.

"The required documentation for US-based airlines is a letter, printed on a healthcare provider's letterhead, that meets all of the following requirements:[10][15]

is from a currently licensed mental health professional,
is no more than one year old,
states that the passenger has a mental health-related disability listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (but need not say which disability the passenger has),
states that having the animal accompany the passenger is necessary to the passenger’s mental health or treatment or to assist the passenger,
states that the individual providing the assessment of the passenger is a licensed mental health professional,
states that the passenger is currently being treated by this mental health professional, and
lists the date and type of the professional’s license and the state or jurisdiction in which it was issued."

And what type of animal are we even talking about here?
So OP will also have a record for a mental illness which may then be considered for future health insurance application etc.

OP unless this is really the case, I would just pay the cargo hold charges - may be simpler.
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Old 28.08.2020, 16:12
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Re: Doctor for Emotional Support Animal

I hear these guys take emotional support animals, emotional support kids too and you can smoke.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ecFgmDSr34
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Old 28.08.2020, 16:15
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Re: Doctor for Emotional Support Animal

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So OP will also have a record for a mental illness which may then be considered for future health insurance application etc.

OP unless this is really the case, I would just pay the cargo hold charges - may be simpler.
It’s not a case of just paying the hold charges. I used to work in aviation and put many animals in the holds of my flights, I’d never put my dog through that.

OP how big is your dog? Under the 8kg?

If your dog is small, try non US airlines. Check the policies of all European airlines flying to the US.

If your dog is not small. I can only think of 2 options. Private jet or ship. I know it is not poss right now with corona, but if you cross on the QM2 your dog can go in the kennels onboard.
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Old 28.08.2020, 16:28
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Re: Doctor for Emotional Support Animal

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It’s not a case of just paying the hold charges. I used to work in aviation and put many animals in the holds of my flights, I’d never put my dog through that.

OP how big is your dog? Under the 8kg?

If your dog is small, try non US airlines. Check the policies of all European airlines flying to the US.

If your dog is not small. I can only think of 2 options. Private jet or ship. I know it is not poss right now with corona, but if you cross on the QM2 your dog can go in the kennels onboard.
On the cruiseliner I worked on there was a "dogbridge" where Puddles could run free and when the Lascars had cleaned up the dogpoop it was a great place for the crew to chill´n booze, as there was no netflix in them days.
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Old 28.08.2020, 16:56
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Re: Doctor for Emotional Support Animal

What animal is it? A peacock? Duck?
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Old 28.08.2020, 18:07
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Re: Doctor for Emotional Support Animal

I was on a business flight Amsterdam to Chicago and the guy next to me had a lovely big puppy. Nobody pre-warned me or offered to move me but luckily I love dogs and the little guy even climbed on my lap for a bit of the journey. This was a couple of years ago but the guy told me that it was free in business and the cost of the upgrade was less than the cost of shipping in the hold. Didn't mention having to prove anything at that time, it may well have changed as I understand the system was being abused.
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Old 28.08.2020, 23:03
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Re: Doctor for Emotional Support Animal

Look for a doctor with a specialty in the area where your dog helps you.

---

Be aware that the concept of an ESA is controversial in Switzerland, largely due to the abuse of the allowances granted to owners, especially those magnified in the popular press. .

---

So to get started: Was your dog registered as an ESA outside of Switzerland?

ETA: I realize that registration/certification/assessment/specific training is not required of ESAs, but if you have any sort of official recognition, or legit official training, you will have an easier conversation with a doctor who might not be au fait with the use of an ESA.

Last edited by meloncollie; 28.08.2020 at 23:23.
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Old 28.08.2020, 23:05
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Re: Doctor for Emotional Support Animal

Indeed- we don't even know if it is a dog- or a python or a parrot.
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Old 29.08.2020, 11:54
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Re: Doctor for Emotional Support Animal

Suggest OP figures out what is the main goal they want to achieve.

If the goal is "travel in plane cabin with animal" it is worth thinking how to achieve that.

Getting the animal classed as emotional support may be one way...but the medical and veterinary opinions are all going to come at a cost and the process is going to be slow and likely cost 1000s.

Alternatively have a look at the price of First Class plane tickets...1000s for sure but available on-demand and surprisingly common that First Class passengers come on board with a small animal in a box (Luis Vuitton of course!) as carry on.
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Old 29.08.2020, 13:47
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Re: Doctor for Emotional Support Animal

Just a few comments:

On Swiss, first is not always the best option. Depending on which plane you are flying - for instance the A330, which is what is flown to Chicago - the seat configuration does not allow for an animal crate to be stowed underneath for take off and landing. Yes, even the second bench seat in first is too low. So, an animal must go in one of the closets during take off and landing, also during turbulence.

There are also problems with many of the business seats, again depending on the plane type.

That said, I have traveled often in both business and first when other people have brought a dog or cat, so it must be do-able.

---

Also, the limit is not only the weight of the animal, but also the size. The dog must stay in the crate for the entire flight, so must be able to stand and turn around in a crate that fits under the seat/in the closet. Robin Goodfellow is only 6-ish kg, but nonetheless too tall to fit into an underseat crate.

Bottom line: Always, always call and speak to the folks responsible for animal travel - because if you have chosen a seat that cannot accomodate an animal, your pet goes in cargo, unprepared. Also be aware of what might happen if there is a last minute plane type change. And triple check that the dimensions of your travel crate actually fit into the seat you have chosen. (Or in the closet.)

---

Also, may I remind posters that despite the (insert expletive here) selfish idiots who have abused the ESA allowance, ESAs are indeed real, and address a very real need.

If you could see how valuable these animals are in helping people with a disorder such as PTSD, you'd be less dismissive.

Sure, the media has made much of the (insert expletive here) selfish idiots obviously trying it on - but these are in no way representative of the real ESAs and the people who are only able to live a normal life with help from these animals.

The accomodation to allow ESAs on flights was made in response to a real disability. The accomodation is set in US law under the ADA. ETA: ESA accomodations come under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACA) not the ADA.


Mental health/disability shaming is wrong. Full stop. So stop it.

Airlines are cracking down, and good on them for doing so. And good on legal changes allowing airlines to do so. Most people who truly need an ESA are supportive of the crackdown, as they are tired of being tarred with the same brush as those gaming the system.

Now - I agree - anyone gaming the system will be at the top of my 'up against the wall' list. Shame, shame, shame on these selfish jerks. There is no excuse for anyone who scams the system and tries to pass their pet off as an ESA.

But please hold your fire until fakery is established. And in absence of such evidence, let's take the high road and try to understand why ESAs exist in the first place and extend compassion to those in real need.

---

Island Monkey makes a good point about the dangers of animal travel in cargo today. One of the ways to reduce scamming/gaming the ESA allowance would be to make animal travel safer so that you are not rolling the dice with your pet's life when flying. But that's another thread...

---

I've done a fair amount of research over the years as to how to get my mutts safely back to the US. As of am few years ago, FYI the only cruise ship that would take pets was the QM2 - and at the time the kennels were booked a year in advance due to limited availability. (No, your pet cannot stay in your stateroom with you - they go into kennels. For 6-8 days to cross the Atlantic.) Also, there is no veterinarian on the ship.

If you are flexible, deadheading on an unused leg of a private flight is a possibility, albeit very limited access. You have to be able to fly last minute, be flexible as to destination, and be aware that costs are still quite high.

---

You'll notice I am still in Switzerland - that is because I could not find a safe way for my elderly and/or 'special needs' dogs across the pond.

So I wish the OP all the best with her move home.

Last edited by meloncollie; 30.08.2020 at 14:54. Reason: Correction
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Old 29.08.2020, 18:45
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Re: Doctor for Emotional Support Animal

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You'll notice I am still in Switzerland - that is because I could not find a safe way for my elderly and/or 'special needs' dogs across the pond.
Did you think of cruises? For instance it used to be possible to take a dog aboard the Queen Mary 2 for its cruise Hamburg - Southampton - NY.

Schedules due to Covid are likely to be an issue nowadays, still it may be worh looking into.
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Old 29.08.2020, 18:58
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Re: Doctor for Emotional Support Animal

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Did you think of cruises? For instance it used to be possible to take a dog aboard the Queen Mary 2 for its cruise Hamburg - Southampton - NY.

Schedules due to Covid are likely to be an issue nowadays, still it may be worh looking into.
Yes, looks like she did.

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I've done a fair amount of research over the years as to how to get my mutts safely back to the US. As of am few years ago, FYI the only cruise ship that would take pets was the QM2 - and at the time the kennels were booked a year in advance due to limited availability. (No, your pet cannot stay in your stateroom with you - they go into kennels. For 6-8 days to cross the Atlantic.) Also, there is no veterinarian on the ship.
Still, the OP hasn't come back yet to say what type of animal so until she does all these suggestions are sort of moot.
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Old 29.08.2020, 19:23
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Re: Doctor for Emotional Support Animal

Well I would assume that if OP really had the need for an ESA they would also be seeing a psychiatrist and therefore obtaining such note should not be an issue?

But let's wait until they come back and tell us the rest.

K
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