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Hello, We are new to the form thank you for having us. My husband and I are the owners of a beautiful American bulldog. He is so awesome and is here for my emotional support. I do have some questions as it regards to my current housing. I’ve already disclosed enough information about my medical history thanI wanted to, however I received a call from my complex saying they were going to have to call my doctor to verify if my dog was a service dog.

Given the fact that I work in the social worker industry, and I do you have a diagnosis from a previous therapist for depression, which I’ve already dispelled to the complex. I even registered my dog online and sent them his license number, yet they want to verify with my doctor. That is totally against my hippa rights and I need help navigating this! Thanks for the support
 

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My understanding is that for a dog to qualify as an ESA and therefore be treated as a reasonable accommodation per the ADA rather than a pet, one needs a letter from a mental licensed health professional "prescribing" the particular dog as part of the person's treatment plan. Just having a diagnosis of a mental health issue isn't sufficient to make one's dog an ESA - the letter is necessary. I do believe it's acceptable for landlords to verify the letter is genuine by contacting the doctor who wrote it - it'd only be a HIPAA violation if the doc provided additional personal medical information to the landlord without the patient's permission.

AFAIK the ESA registries are basically scams - registering a dog doesn't make it an ESA per federal law, and dogs that aren't registered can still be ESAs regardless, because there is no official registry recognized by the government, just some private organizations calling themselves registries.
 

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Absolutely agree with Parus. There's no official registry for Emotional Support Animals or Service Dogs (they are two different things with different rights) in the USA, and any online company that says otherwise is a scam. ESAs must be 'prescribed' by a doctor, though the doctor does not need to reveal what they were prescribed for, simply that it's their professional opinion that an ESA is beneficial to you. Confirmation from an appropriate health care provider is typically required by landlords and by airlines when taking the animal on flights in-cabin, as ESAs only have special rights when it comes to housing and flying (ie they have no public access rights, can't go into stores where pets aren't allowed, etc).
 
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