There was a time (not too long ago) that if you kept an animal in your home, it was there purely as a pet. Today, with psychiatric care on the rise, animals are now serving a different role; comforting people as emotional support animals.
Do you think that you qualify for an emotional support animal? Complete the questionnaire in the link below and get connected to a licensed mental health professional in Alabama today.
What’s an Emotional Support Animal (ESA)?
An Emotional Support Animal is recommended for a person to help alleviate the symptoms of a variety of ailments from mild to severe depression, to anxiety issues, to phobias and everything in between.
These animals can be of any species and do not have to be specially trained to do anything other than bringing comfort and support to the individual.
Federal law across the United States has provided the person needing an ESA specific rights. These include allowing the Emotional Support Animal into the cabin of an airplane at no additional cost and into “no pets” policy rental units.
Let’s explore this topic further and answer the question of how to get an Emotional Support Animal in Alabama.
Do I Qualify for an ESA or a Service Animal?
There is a vast difference between an Emotional Support Animal and a Service Animal. The main difference is the Service Animal (which is usually a dog) has been specially trained to aid the individual in a specific manner. This could include opening doors, pulling a wheelchair, or alerting the individual to a medical issue.
Service Dogs are allowed into all areas of public domain (i.e., restaurants, malls, libraries, public transit, etc.).
The ESA, on the other hand, is not task-trained and does not have full access to public places. Emotional support animals provide comfort and emotional support to their handlers and are allowed in housing situations and air travel.
Flying with an Emotional Support Animal
Airlines must allow people with emotional support animals to fly with their animal without charging additional fees for the ESA. An ESA, must be under the control of the owner at all times during the flight.
What documentation do the airlines require?
Airlines will require you to provide an ESA letter before the date of travel. Some airlines (Delta, United, Alaskan, American Airlines, etc.) will require their own documents in addition to an ESA letter. To find out about your airline’s ESA policy click here.
Emotional Support Animals in Alabama Apartments, Mobile Homes and Rental Homes
In most situations, landlords must allow people with emotional support animals access to apartments, mobile homes, and rental homes, even if they have a “no-pets” policy in place. Landlords cannot require additional pet rent or pet deposits to people with emotional support animals.
What questions can be asked? What documentation is required?
Landlords cannot ask for private medical information, access to health care providers, or detailed information about a person’s disability. According to HUD, the only documentation that is required is an ESA letter from a licensed mental health provider.
Unfortunately, the answers are not the same for all animals, and currently, there are inconsistencies in the federal law on what a landlord may request or require when it comes to the ESA.
According to recent reports, the Alabama Legislature is trying to clear up these inconsistencies and have made a law that clarifies what qualifies as a “service animal” or an “assistance animal.”
Under the Alabama Assistance and Service Integrity in Housing Act (the “Act”);
“the Act expands the definition of a disability under Alabama law to include a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. The definition of a service animal is also expanded to include not only animals qualifying as service animals under the ADA, but also includes those animals in training to become service animals. The Act specifically addresses assistance animals and defines them as any animal qualifying as a reasonable accommodation under the FHA and includes emotional support animals.”
Qualify for an Alabama ESA Letter Online
How to Get an Emotional Support Animal in Alabama
If you honestly do need an Emotional Support Animal in Alabama, you will be required to have an ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional. If this doctor/therapist thinks your condition could be helped by having an Emotional Support Animal, then he/she will provide the necessary documentation on their letterhead.
This required ESA document is in the form of a letter. The ESA letter will include;
- Doctor’s/therapist’s name, license number, state, and date it was issued
- Doctor’s/therapist’s signature
- Written on the doctor’s/therapist’s letterhead
Once you have this letter, it’s up to you to choose an appropriate Emotional Support Animal. Certain species like reptiles, barnyard animals, or large animals may be less likely to be acceptable when it comes to airlines and rental properties.
You & Your ESA in Alabama
If you need an Emotional Support Animal in Alabama, know your rights. Go through the proper channels to ensure your ESA is legitimate and be prepared when booking a flight or seeking housing in a “no pets” policy building.
Due to the number of fraudulent claims, both the airlines and landlords are seeking proof when it comes to the Emotional Support Animal. Give it to them so you can travel and live hassle-free.
Qualify for an ESA Letter in Alabama
Get the Love and Support you Deserve