Where You Have the Right to Take Your Emotional Support Animal

Today, an emotional support animal is not just a pet, it is more of a friend and companion with whom you want to spend as much time as possible. The effect of ESA on the psycho-emotional state of a person is considered a full-fledged therapy that individuals with inabilities should receive on a regular basis. Therefore, it is essential for ESA owners to figure out where they are allowed to take their pet, and where it is prohibited.

An Emotional Support Animal VS Service Animal

Today, animals are used both as adjunctive therapy for various diseases and to succor humans with inabilities. To resolve legal issues, several varieties of animal helpers have been invented. First of all, these are service animals. They help people with disabilities, ensure their normal functioning and socialization, and fulfill various daily assignments that make life less complicated for their owners.

Service animals are specially trained creatures. From an early age, service animal undergoes special training in order to be as useful as possible to its owner and meet his or her disability-related needs. This category includes guide dogs, hearing dogs, animals helping people with mobility issues.

A registered psychiatric service dog is a separate type of service animal. These dogs assist people with mental and intellectual inabilities. Do not confuse psychiatric service dogs and emotional support animals. ESA doesn’t have express preparation. These animals grant a nonphysical endorsement to their owners but they aren’t supposed to fulfill any specific assignments. ESAs ensure consolation and serenity for their owners and, first of all, are companions and friends for them.

The features of Emotional Support Animals

First of all, ESAs aid to g through difficult life periods. Psychologists have proven that animals can supply us with additional support. Although they cannot comprehend every word we say, they feel our inner state very well. They have a heightened capacity for empathy, which is very substantial to us. A lot of psychologists note that a person copes with stress much faster and more efficiently with an animal at home.

An ESA is recommended for such mental disorders as depression, feelings of abandonment and loneliness, obsessive-compulsive disorder, PTSD, suicidal and pre-suicidal states, and much more. In all these cases, the animal provides its owner with vital emotional support, as well as makes certain changes in the existing daily routine, including daily walks in the fresh air and sleep. Such changes have a beneficial effect on both the physical and psychological state of a person.

Another positive aspect is that pets bring people together. Today, one of the ways to bond with other people is a community of interest. Nothing unites us with our neighbors like having a dog or a cat. And that’s great. Just imagine how many people all over the world are united by the presence of pets. If it seems to you that you are alone, there will always be those with whom you already have a common interest.

The legitimate ESA status

Young Woman Consulting with Dog

In order for your pet to give you the hold-up and love you need, no documents are requisite. However, if you want to qualify an animal as an official ESA, you must have an ESA letter from your therapist or psychiatrist.

The Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a law that is primarily intended to eradicate discrimination against people with any form of dysfunction. ADA includes a list of disabilities, both physical and mental, and also defines the rights of these people in such critical areas of life as social interaction, fair employment, and housing.

Another sphere of influence of ADA is the rights of assistance animals and their handlers. If the animals correspond to the definition of service ones and have a special ID card, confirming this status, the animal can follow its owner wherever he or she goes and has extended freedoms at housing and traveling fields. However, these freedoms only apply if the animal is under the complete control of its owner, does not show aggression towards others, and does not deteriorate the possessions.

Unfortunately, non of this applies to the ESAs. ADA does not regulate the capability of the ESAs and does not define their freedoms. However, there are other laws that apply to these creatures and give them certain prerogatives.

Register your animal

SERVICE DOG
Certification
$42
ID card & online registration
SERVICE DOG
Online Certification
$24
Only online registration
EMOTIONAL
SUPPORT ANIMAL
Certification
$42
ID card & online registration
EMOTIONAL
SUPPORT ANIMAL
Online Certification
$24
Only online registration
THERAPY ANIMAL
Certification
$39
ID card & online registration
THERAPY ANIMAL
Certification
$22
Only online registration

Emotional Support Animals laws

Dog sitting in travel box

Since an emotional support animal is the most important part of its owner’s life and it is important for a human to stay with a pet for the maximum amount of time, ESA has certain freedoms. These freedoms give these creatures the ability to maintain the emotional state of the owner and spend most of the time with him or her, especially in stressful situations.

These laws were established by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Transportation. It is these two laws that determine the juridic aspect of the interaction of humans with emotional support animals.

The Fair Housing Act

Smiling young woman

One of the basic laws that give emotional support animals the opportunity to live with their owner is the Fair Housing Act. FHA protects the rights of buyers and tenants and is designed to suppress any discrimination against persons with disabilities in the housing field. First of all, this concerns the provision of reasonable accommodations for tenants by housing providers. If due to disability a person asks the landlord to make certain adjustments in the arrangement of the home or the rules of residence, the landlord cannot refuse without an objective reason. This also applies to living in the building of emotional support animals.

According to the FHA, a housing provider cannot refuse to provide a man with housing, citing the presence of an animal, or evict habitats without sufficient justification and a government decision. If an emotional support animal poses a direct threat to other habitats of the building or damages the landlord’s property, the landlord can apply to the HUD, give all the indispensable evidence, and get permission to evict such tenants.

A landlord mustn’t demand an extra charge for the accommodation of the emotional support animal. Nevertheless, landlords often negotiate a deposit with tenants, which, if necessary, will be used as compensation for damages caused by the animals. This is especially true for owners of large breeds of emotional support dogs.

The Air Carrier Access Act

Funny photo of the Akita inu dog
Funny photo of the Akita inu dog in a pilot suit

According to this law, an emotional support animal could fly free of charge in the cabin of an airplane next to its owner. Flying is a stressful situation even for people who do not suffer from a fear of heights, so the support of the ESA at such moments is very important. Therefore, many air carriers provide such an opportunity for ESA owners.

However, humans began to transport their pets in the cabin, passing them off as emotional support animals too often. That is why recent changes were made to the ACAA leave it to the airline to make the final decision regarding the transportation of emotional support animals in the cabin. Firstly, from 2021, you need to pay pet fees for the transportation of ESAs, which are about $125 one way.

Secondly, to have this privilege, the animal must meet all the necessary requirements. The weight and size of the animal are taken into account, for example, if the dog is very large, most likely its owner will be offered to use the services of another airline or transport the animal with other pets. Also, airline employees carefully monitor that the animal is clean and well-groomed, has all the necessary vaccinations, and has permission from the veterinarian to fly.

It is significant that the animal is calm and does not show aggression. The owner must provide comfortable conditions for transporting his pets. Most often muzzles, special leashes, and carriers for animals are used. You need to comfortably place the animal at your feet, where it should be throughout the entire flight. Emotional support animals are not allowed to occupy a seat or the passage.

Access to public places

Beautiful womanwith dog in cafe
Beautiful woman with dog in cafe MyServiceAnimal

As a part of ensuring reasonable accommodation, an emotional support animal is allowed to accompany its owner in lobbies, elevators, stairways, or other common places in the building if we are talking about an apartment building. The only condition, which remains unchanged, is that the animal should not be aggressive or pose a direct threat to others.

In the same condition, you can walk with your pet in parks or other outdoor public places. Nevertheless, ESA is not a service animal. This means that it cannot accompany its owner to cinemas, theaters, museums, or restaurants. So if you want to dine out with your emotional support animal, you will have to choose a pet-friendly establishment. But this situation also has its advantages. For example, pet-friendly cafes and restaurants often pamper their visitors’ pets with various delicacies.

If you are staying at a hotel or Airbnb, it is best to discuss with the host ESA’s staying in advance. The FHA does not oblige hotels and Airbnb stays to host the ESA with their handlers. Therefore, the hotel itself makes decisions about the accommodation of animals. Also, in most cases, there is an additional charge for the stay of a pet in a hotel room or Airbnb stay.

ESA for studentsESA for students

According to the FHA, registered emotional support animals can live with their owners in dormitories at colleges and universities. Moreover, the college can be fined for breaking this law. Yet, there are special requirements for accommodating an emotional support animal that must be met. Please review these requirements before requesting ESA accommodation with you in your dorm room. Most often, you can find them on the website of the educational institution or ask about them at the information center.

The general rules remain unchanged. The animal must be calm and under the complete control of its owner. Also, it should not pose a threat to other residents of the hostel or harm property.

School or college is often stressful situations where students often experience anxiety or panic attacks. Especially when it comes to writing tests or passing important exams. At such moments, support from your beloved pet is simply necessary.

In fact, the ESA, according to the law, has no right to be in the classroom with the owner. However, if you provide all the necessary documents, such as a doctor’s opinion and a letter from the ESA, you can often negotiate with the school or college management about personal permission for the presence of an emotional support animal. It is also necessary to provide confirmation that the animal will not interfere with other students, and sometimes even get the consent of all your classmates.

Can you take an emotional support animal to the office?

emotional support animal at the office

There is no federal law that would oblige employers to allow ESAs to accompany their employers to work. It all depends on the company policy, your occupation, and the personal qualities of your boss. When getting a new job, you should not count on the fact that you must be allowed to take your pet out to the office.

However, everyone understands that many stressful situations can often arise during work. If you explain to the employer what benefits the ESA gives you and back it up with the improvement in the quality of work, perhaps the company management will make concessions to you. It all depends on your credibility, the availability of evidence, and the employer’s disposition towards you.

In addition, many companies now have a pet day in the office very often. On such days, each employee can take his pet to the office. Many studies show that around animals we calm and relax. This in turn contributes to increased productivity and quality of work.

How to protect your rights?

First of all, in order to be able to defend your rights and the rights of your emotional support animal, you need to study the laws and all aspects of the pets policy. At the same time, not only knowledge of federal laws regarding ENA, but also local regulations and state laws can help you. For example in New York or Florida, there are local laws that protect ESAs’ rights, especially in the field of housing.

Also, do not forget about the civil rights of any person. Any discrimination, including due to inability, mental frustration, or the presence of an animal of emotional support, is unacceptable in our time. This rule applies to absolutely all spheres of life from daily social interaction to the sphere of air travel and housing.

If you are faced with discrimination or any other form of violation of your rights, you can contact the Department of Justice. In most cases, it is necessary to file a complaint, where you must describe in detail what happened to you and explain why you consider this situation to be a violation of your rights. This Department is obliged to review your complaint and take the necessary steps to protect you and your emotional support animal.

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