Emotional Support Animal Laws - Policies Governing the ESAs
Do you know that as an ESA owner you have substantial rights to keep your animal? Unfortunately, many potential and new ESA owners do not know about it. Here, we have explained the main laws that govern the emotional support animals and protect the ESA owners against any discrimination and hassles.
People with disabilities need support that comes in the form of an emotional support animal. Why these animals? Sometimes it is difficult to share things and feelings with other humans, and this is something that we all agree with.
In such a case, a canine, feline, or any other kind of animal, provides the needed comfort and joy. Here, we have discussed the main laws that protect these animals and their owners.
ESAs and Service Animals - Understanding the Assistance Animals
Emotional support animals are assistance animals that help people live their lives normally and peacefully. These people usually have an emotional or mental condition that stops them from having a normal and happy life.
These conditions limit their capability of doing the daily chores and tasks properly. For them, an emotional support animal is a blessing, and their reason to withstand their symptoms patiently.
As per federal law, an assistance animal is an animal that helps a person in living his life peacefully and easily.
Below are the types of assistance animals.
- Service Animals
These animals are specifically trained to assist people having physical limitations like blindness, hearing difficulties, seizures, or paralysis. Usually, these are dogs and miniature horses. But recently, as per the DoT, only dogs are identified as service animals and allowed to travel in an airplane.
However, you can have a miniature horse as your service animal but you may not be able to air travel with him.
- Emotional Support Animals (ESAs)
Emotional support animals are certified companions and support animals for people who have mental and emotional
Federal Laws about ESA - FHA and ACCA
Both the federal and civil laws protect the rights of the people having mental and physical limitations and conditions. As per these emotional support animal laws, it is prohibited to deny suitable accommodation or any other facility to a disabled person.
There are mainly two laws that govern them and the new ESA owners must know about them before getting their ESA.
Below is a brief summary of these federal laws.
Fair Housing Act (FHA) - Emotional Support Animal Housing Laws
The Fair Housing Act was passed in 1988. It governs the way emotional support animals should be treated in apartments and housing facilities. As per the law, the landlords are obliged to provide ‘suitable accommodation’ for the ESAs.
It means that no landlord could deny your right of living with an emotional support animal or deny accommodation on the basis of your assistance animal. These animals include both emotional support animals and service animals. The policy is issued by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, HUD. It prohibits anyone from discriminating against disabled personnel.
Other than this, the landlords and property owners could not charge the ESA owners to keep their support animals. This applies to no-pet facilities also. Verified ESA owners could live with their animals free of cost and without paying a dime.
According to the HUD housing rules for an emotional support animal, the landlord could not ask the person about the nature of his disability or demand the animal to wear an identification vest or card. All he asks for is a valid ESA letter that is written and signed by a licensed mental health professional.
The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA)
The Air Carrier Access Act was passed in 1990. It works along with the Department of Transportation’s law that prohibits discrimination against any disabled person. According to the policy, the airlines could not refuse their service to a disabled person.
Moreover, physically challenged people are allowed to travel with their service animals. As of now, only dogs are recognized as service animals and, unfortunately, miniature horses could not travel as service animals.
The person would be required to inform the airline before traveling on the plane so that they could make proper arrangements for the animal. The passenger could sit anywhere with his animal unless the animal is large and is blocking the walkways.
As for the emotional support animals, unfortunately, the act no longer supports them. As of January 11, 2021, emotional support animals could no longer travel for free as before. Now, they are considered and treated as any other pet and the passenger will have to pay a fee for it.
The animal should be small enough to fit under the seat of the passenger or have to travel in the cargo of the plane.
Other than these two, there is the Americans with Disabilities Act, ADA, given by the Department of Justice, that protects individuals with disabilities in the United States.
What is an ESA Letter and Requirements to Get One?
The foremost requirement for getting an ESA letter is to get your symptoms screened and fill an online questionnaire. A person with a disability or some form of mental condition is eligible to get the letter and the animal.
Below are some conditions that are eligible for an ESA letter.
- Social Anxiety Disorder
- Postpartum Depression
- Phobias and Fears
- General Anxiety Disorder
- Panic Disorder
- Bipolar Disorder
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Seasonal Affective Disorder
An ESA letter is written by a Licensed Mental Health Practitioner. He must be certified to work in the person’s area and has complete knowledge about ESA and its usability.
Something that many people do not know is that though ESAs live with you, they are not pets. They are more than pets and have a duty to do. Therefore, you must refrain from excessive petting and do not let others approach your animal without your permission.
ESA Registration - What is Emotional Support Animal Registration?
There is no such thing as ESA registration and the service providers who offer these services are fake and non-reliable. Because many new ESA owners do not know about it, many of them believe such sites and get scammed.
Many of them claim that you can upgrade the status of your pet and make it an emotional support cat or dog by registering with them. Moreover, they also mislead the people by saying that they need to register their animals also.
You do not need any registration or get your animal registered separately to get your letter and live with your ESA. All you need is a genuine and lawfully valid emotional support animal letter to live with your animal. These letters are written on the official letterheads of the mental health professionals and are also written and signed by them.
Other than the letter, there are no state and local rules or government agencies that provide any guidelines about registering the animal.
FAQs - Commonly Asked Questions about ESA Laws
Below are some common concerns of the people who want to bring an ESA home.
- Are psychiatric service dogs the same as emotional support dogs?
No, psychiatric dogs are different from ESA dogs and are more considered service dogs. They provide support to people having psychiatric issues and those suffering from seizures.
- Can my landlord deny my ESA?
No, if you have a valid and genuine ESA letter then your landlord could not deny your emotional support animal. However, if the animal is vicious and dangerous then the landlord could deny your animal.
- Where are the ESA housing laws not applicable?
The ESA housing laws are not applicable in the following cases.
- If the housing building has less than four units and the landlord lives in one of the units.
- It is a single household unit that is rented without any property dealer.
- The housing facility is a part of a private club.
- The animal is too big for the house.
- The animal is dangerous and a threat to the other residents.
- Do ESAs require any special training?
No, you are not required to individually train your emotional support animal specifically. It is not a requirement but the animal must be properly housebroken and disciplined.
- Did ADA state any rule or requirement about having ESA or service dog vests?
No, ADA did not provide any guidelines or rules regarding the service animals and emotional support animals wearing vests or any kind of identification. However, it is helpful for the owner and the animal if he is wearing a vest.
This helps in telling other people that the animal is not a pet and helps in finding him also, in case he gets lost.
Get in touch with us today or fill the online questionnaire to get your genuine ESA letter.
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