Is My Emotional Support Dog Legal?
Confusion as to the legality of Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) or Emotional Support Dogs (ESDs) abound due to misinformation and incorrect stories about mishandling and exploitation. But the fact is, there really are people who need comfort pets and emotional support animals and there are laws that support their need for it.
People with ESAs accompanying them have been diagnosed with an emotional or mental disability. They need their companion pets to calm their nerves during a distressing incident. Without their ESA’s, they’re likely to end up having panic attacks or severe anxiety issues that disrupt the way they function. While only two laws cover the legality of handling ESAs, these are nonetheless very important.
Legality for People with Emotional Support Animals
Under the law, if a licensed mental health professional has written a recommendation for an emotional support animal, you cannot be denied housing or a seat on an airplane. The laws are strict with these two instances, however, there are no other laws covering accommodations for ESA’s in establishments like restaurants, banks, hotels and other similar areas that disallow pets.
If you need your ESA to be with you at certain establishments apart from your residence or aboard a plane, you should get the permission of the owner of the property first. In this case, the permission or arrangement is granted on a case by case basis, and will largely depend on how you negotiate for it. Take note that establishments have the right to decline your request.
How can my ESA be legit?
To facilitate having an ESA legitimately, you should be properly diagnosed by a licensed mental health professional who can attest that your condition is found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
Your licensed mental health professional must also ascertain that you need an ESA to live or travel with you. You should present your ESA letter to concerned individuals, such as a landlord or at the airport’s ticketing center, other establishments that may need confirmation. So, make sure to have more than one copy of it aside from the original.
“But, I saw a post on social media that I can register my dog for $65 and he will become an emotional support animal.” This is incorrect and simply registering your dog on a website will not make your dog an emotional support dog. Airlines and apartment complexes can turn away your “registered ESA” if you do not follow all requirements. Remember, that you need a letter from a licensed mental health professional to qualify as an actual emotional support animal.
The licensed mental health professional’s letter should include their contact and licensing information should the airline or landlord need this to verify your claims. In some cases, the letter’s coverage is only good for one year and will need to be updated, which can be a hassle.
To see if you qualify for an ESA Letter, please take a few minutes to fill out the ESA questionnaire here. ESA Doctors offers a full money back guarantee if you do not qualify for an emotional support animal.
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