ADA Guidelines on Emotional Support Animals
Many people enjoy keeping a domesticated animal such as a dog, a cat, a potbellied pig, or a parrot as a pet. An Emotional Support Animal (ESA) is not the same as a pet or certified Service Animal. It's important to know the difference, especially if you want to travel with or live with your support animal.
Is an Emotional Support Animal a Service Animal?
The easy answer is no. While a support animal provides the service of alleviating your loneliness or helping you cope in social situations, your ESA is not an actual Service Animal as recognized by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
ADA Definition of a Service Animal
The ADA defines Service Animals as dogs that are specifically trained to perform tasks such as guiding blind and visually impaired persons or alerting a deaf person to danger. Trained service dogs may pull a wheelchair, protect someone having a seizure, or remind a mentally ill person to take their medications.
To be recognized as an ADA compliant Service Dog, the animal must be trained to provide service specific to the owner. Dogs and other animals whose only function is to provide companionship and emotional support to humans are helpful, but they are not automatically entitled to the same legal protections as ADA-recognized Service Animals.
Stores, restaurants, businesses, and public buildings are typically required to allow ADA Service Animals on the premises. Landlords are also required to allow a tenant to keep their own service animal. This is true even if the general policy forbids animals.
The same businesses, public buildings, and landlords are not required by law to allow an emotional support animal. They may, however, bend the rules if you can provide the proper paperwork such as ESA registration and a letter from a medical or mental health professional. DoNotPay can help you get that letter.
What Is an ADA Emotional Support Animal?
An emotional support animal is an animal companion that provides some sort of benefit to an emotionally or mentally disabled individual. The animal is meant to offer companionship and support that alleviates at least one aspect of the person's disability, explains VeryWellMind. Emotional support animals can be practically any sort of animal, as long as they are housebroken and well-behaved.
- Miniature horse
How Emotional Support Animals Help People:
|Improves Your Schedule||Schedules and routines may be very important, yet, schedules may seem tedious. A pet requires care and a certain routine. You must feed them; you have to walk them, bathe them, play with them, etc. Setting your schedule to be based on their needs can also impact your other day-to-day tasks.|
|Improve Memory and Focus||Pets are very good at keeping person-centered. If you forget to feed them, they will remind you. If you feel lost in thought, they can give you a nudge to remind you that they are there.|
|Improve Sleep||If you are someone who suffers from hyperactivity, you may feel unable to rest well at night. After running, walking, playing, and focusing on your pet throughout the day, you may be able to rest more at night.|
|Relieves Stress||Pets provide unconditional love to their owners. They are unable to yell or do things that may stress you. This can give you a sense of confidence and reduce your risk of depression or anxiety.|
Does a Landlord Have to Rent to Someone Who Has an ADA Emotional Support Animal?
If you have the proper paperwork, your right to live with an emotional support animal can be protected under the Fair Housing Act. Because an ADA emotional support animal is not legally classified as a pet, a landlord cannot deny tenancy based on the animal, and you won't have to pay a pet deposit.
Can You Take Your ADA Emotional Support Animal on an Airplane?
Airlines are required by the Air Carrier Access Act to allow passengers to fly with their ADA emotional support animal. Your seating choices may be limited, depending on the size and species of your animal.
Each airline has its own rules regarding how a passenger may travel with an animal, so be sure to do your homework ahead of time, and don't just show up at the airport expecting to board a plane with your emotional support animal.
How to Get an ESA Letter on Your Own
If you think that you have a legitimate need for an emotional support animal, consult with the doctor or therapist from whom you are currently receiving treatment. Ask them to write a letter on their official letterhead and include:
- Your name
- The animal's name
- The animal’s breed
- The reason you need an emotional support animal
With an ESA letter, you may be able to board a plane, enter a restaurant, patronize and business, and do other things where animals are generally prohibited.
An Easier Way to Get an ESA Letter
Getting a therapist to compose the letter that will help you travel with an emotional support animal can be a tiresome process. Good thing DoNotPay knows how to make the job a lot easier. Here's all you have to do:
- Search "service animal" on DoNotPay.
- Select the type of issue you need help with, including contacting your landlord about your ESA/service animal, asking your airline about ESA options, or requesting ESA/service accommodations at other venues.
- Answer a series of questions about your current situation and the details of your ESA/service animal, so we can generate the best results for you.
That's really all there is to it. Depending on which issue you select, our artificial intelligence lawyer will get in touch with your landlord to explain the situation, or we can reach out to the airline of your choice to retrieve the information you need. If you need us to contact your therapist or health professional and request an ESA letter on your behalf, we can do that.
Other Ways DoNotPay Can Make Your Life Easier
Helping you get an ESA letter isn't the only thing we do. DoNotPay helps other ways, too.
- DoNotPay can help you register an ESA support animal
- DoNotPay can help you take your support animal on an airplane
- DoNotPay can convince your landlord to accept your companion animal
- DoNotPay can teach you about the Fair Housing Act as it applies to companion animals
- DoNotPay can help you board a United Airlines flight with your emotional support animal
- DoNotPay can help you board with your emotional support animal on Southwest Airlines
- DoNotPay can write a request letter to your therapist
- DoNotPay can help you understand the rules about support and companion animals