Are you thinking about qualifying for an emotional support animal in Missouri? There are some important legal developments in the “Show Me State” to be aware of. 

In Missouri, emotional support animals are allowed in buildings that prohibit pets. ESAs are exempt from pet fees and deposits and exempt from restrictions based on the animal’s breed, size, or weight. 

As a resident of Missouri, you are entitled to these special rights in housing only if you qualify for an ESA legally. If you misrepresent an emotional support animal in Missouri, you can get into legal trouble. That is why it is important to get an ESA letter from a reputable source in Missouri. 

In this article, we’ll explain the latest ESA news in Missouri and how you can properly qualify for an emotional support animal.

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Recent Missouri ESA Legal Developments

In 2020, the governor of Missouri signed a new law that makes it a misdemeanor to falsely represent an emotional support animal. The law prohibits people from providing false ESA documents to landlords or using harnesses, collars, and vests to pretend their pet is an emotional support animal when it is not. 

If you have a valid ESA letter, your rights are protected in Missouri. In fact, housing providers can be punished for failing to accommodate ESA owners. In a recent case, the U.S. Department of Housing filed a lawsuit against a Missouri landlord who declined to properly accommodate a tenant’s emotional support animal. The landlord demanded that the tenant pay a $400 deposit for the tenant’s animal, even though the tenant had submitted an ESA letter. The tenant informed the landlord that they weren’t allowed to charge a fee for an ESA, but the property manager responded that only blind and deaf people could have assistance animals. The manager also told the tenant that they didn’t look like they had a disability. 

These actions by the property manager violated federal Fair Housing rules, and HUD decided to file charges of discrimination against the landlord. 

In order to properly qualify for an ESA, the only document you need is an ESA letter from a licensed healthcare professional. In the next section, we’ll talk about what an ESA letter is and how to get one that is valid in Missouri.

An ESA letter is all you need to qualify your pet as an emotional support animal. - ESA Doctors
An ESA letter is all you need to qualify your pet as an emotional support animal.

How to get an ESA letter in Missouri

An ESA letter is a signed document from a licensed healthcare professional who has evaluated a person’s mental health. The letter establishes that the person has a mental or emotional health condition that constitutes a disability and recommends an emotional support animal to help cope with that condition. People commonly get ESA letters for depression, severe anxiety, PTSD, phobias, and learning disorders.  

An ESA letter should have the following characteristics: 

  • The letter should contain the healthcare professional’s license number.
  • The letter should not be more than one year old.
  • The letter must be signed by the healthcare professional. 
  • The letter should contain the professional’s contact information. 
legit esa letter

An ESA letter is the only proof that landlords are entitled to request from a tenant requesting accommodation for their emotional support animal. Landlords are not allowed to request medical records or make intrusive inquiries about the tenant’s mental and emotional health. You are never required to give your landlord your specific diagnosis or detailed health history. 

You can get an ESA letter from your existing healthcare provider. If your healthcare professional is unfamiliar with ESAs, or you don’t have one, ESA Doctors can connect you to a professional who specializes in ESAs. You can obtain ESA letters online through a licensed professional that works remotely without the need for office visits.

how to get an ESA letter

What is an Emotional Support Animal in Missouri?

You can obtain an ESA letter before or after you adopt your emotional support animal. Your existing pet may already be functioning as an ESA. ESAs are most commonly dogs and cats, but they can be small, domesticated animals like birds, fish, turtles, rabbits, gerbils.

Emotional support animals can help their owners in the following ways:

  • Providing a feeling of safety and comfort.
  • Decreasing the symptoms associated with their diagnosed disorder.
  • Easing discomfort in social situations.
  • Boosting self-esteem.

An ESA does not need any specialized training. They do their jobs by being present in their owner’s lives and providing companionship. However, a misbehaving emotional support animal that puts other tenants or animals in danger can be denied accommodation by landlords. 

Emotional Support Animal Rights in Missouri

Emotional support animals have specific rights in Missouri. You can live with them in no-pets housing. - ESA Doctors
Emotional support animals have specific rights in Missouri. You can live with them in no-pets housing.

Residents of Missouri are protected by the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination against tenants with emotional support animals. Under Fair Housing rules and guidelines from the U.S. Department of Housing, emotional support animal owners have the following rights:

  • ESAs must be reasonably accommodated, even in buildings that ban pets.
  • ESAs are exempt from breed, size, and weight restrictions
  • ESAs are exempt from pet fees and deposits

As previously discussed, landlords in Missouri can get in trouble with HUD for failing to fulfill their Fair Housing obligations regarding emotional support animals. Landlords have faced charges filed in court and fines for not respecting the rights of ESA owners. 

Dogs, cats, birds, and other domesticated animals have special rights as emotional support animals. See if you qualify for an ESA letter below. - ESA Doctors
Dogs, cats, birds, and other domesticated animals have special rights as emotional support animals. See if you qualify for an ESA letter below.

Flying with a Psychiatric Service Dog in Missouri

Emotional support animals are no longer allowed to board flights free of charge. The only mental health assistance animal still accommodated on flights is psychiatric service dogs (PSD). PSDs are different from ESAs in one major way: they must be trained to perform a job or task relating to the handler’s disability.

To qualify for a PSD, the owner must also have a psychiatric disability under the relevant criteria set out in the Americans with Disabilities Act and Air Carrier Access Act. A licensed healthcare professional is best suited to make this determination. If you have a qualifying condition, they can give you a signed PSD letter

Psychiatric service dogs can board flights free of charge and are exempt from the normal size/weight restrictions that apply to normal pets. All service dog owners must submit the DOT’s Service Animal Air Transportation Form to their airline before boarding. 

How to Get your Psychiatric Service Dog Letter from ESA Doctors

How To Get a PSD Letter - Three Easy Steps - ESA Doctors
PSD Letter

Conclusion

If you consider qualifying for an emotional support animal in Missouri, make sure you see a healthcare professional licensed for your state. Submitting false ESA documents is unethical and a misdemeanor in Missouri. 

If you’re not sure who to see, ESA Doctors can help. ESA Doctors works with real licensed healthcare professionals that understand ESA recommendations. Just complete the questionnaire in the link below to get started today!

Qualify for an ESA Letter in Missouri Today

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