What is an Emotional Support Animal?

Unlike a Service Dog that performs a specific task for a disabled individual, the ESA is defined as a companion animal which provides therapeutic benefit, to an individual with a mental or psychiatric disability.

Emotional support animals are typically dogs and cats but may include other species of animals. To be afforded protection under United States federal law, a person must meet the federal definition of disability. He or she must also have a note from a physician or licensed mental health professional stating that the person has a disability and that the Emotional Support Animal provides a benefit for him or her.

Let’s explore this topic further and answer the question of how to get an Emotional Support Animal in Kentucky. If you do not have access to a licensed mental health professional, you can get started with one online by completing the questionnaire in the link below. 

Emotional Support Animal or Service Animal

There may be some confusion when it comes to the difference between an Emotional Support Animal and a Service Animal.

Yes, both these animals help an individual with a medical issue; however, the Service Animal is typically of the canine species and is trained to carry out a specific task. These tasks can be broad from pulling a wheelchair, to retrieving items, to alerting to a drop in blood glucose levels or an oncoming seizure.

Federal laws have also made it illegal to discriminate against an individual with a Service Dog, meaning they are allowed into all areas of public domain (i.e., restaurants, malls, libraries, public transit, etc.).

The Emotional Support Animal, on the other hand, is not task-trained and does not have full access to public places. However, they still have rights under Federal and Kentucky laws.

The Emotional Support Animal in Kentucky Apartments and Condos

Under the Fair Housing Act, emotional support animals have the right to live with their owners in apartments and condos. Even if the apartment or HOA normally does not allow pets.

Under the Fair Housing Act, emotional support animals have the right to live with their owners in apartments and condos. Even if the apartment or HOA normally does not allow pets.

The Fair Housing Act allows tenants that need an emotional support animal to live with their animal in apartments and condominiums, regardless of a no-pets policy. This means that you have the right to live with your ESA in a rented dwelling, even if your landlord normally does not allow pets. Under the FHA, emotional support animals are not considered pets.

The Federal law states a landlord cannot discriminate against a person having an Emotional Support Animal on the premises. But when is the landlord liable if that ESA bites someone?

Under the old law the Kentucky Supreme Court stated;

when a landlord permits a dog to be housed on property that he owns, even temporarily, he qualifies as the dog’s “owner” under KRS 258.095(5) and is therefore strictly liable for any damage caused by that dog on the property or within an arm’s length of the property.”

Fortunately for landlords in Kentucky, as of last year, this law has been amended to state;

“an owner of a dog is someone who permits it to be housed on property “owned AND occupied by him,” rather than “owned OR occupied” by him. Thus, unless the landlord occupies the property that he owns or leases, he does not meet the definition of a dog “owner” and therefore is not strictly liable for damage caused by the dog.”

This law would also extend to those people owning a Service Dog or one being used as an ESA.

Qualify for an ESA Letter Online


Emotional Support Animals in the University of Kentucky

If you are a student attending the University of Kentucky and need an Emotional Support Animal, some regulations will need to be followed.

These include;

  • Registering the ESA through the Disability Resource Center before coming to campus.
  • Dogs and cats must be house trained before coming to campus.
  • Animals larger than 75 pounds cannot be placed in the residence hall.
  • The Disability Resource Center will determine the species of animal allowed.
  • Unless otherwise stated, the ESA is only permitted in the residence hall where the student resides.
  • The animal needs to be up-to-date on its vaccinations and proof will be required
  • Must have a mental health professional complete the UK Disability Resource Center Support Animal Verification Form.
  • A picture of the animal and completion of the Service/Support Animal Roommate Agreement will also be required.

How to Get an Emotional Support Animal in Kentucky

Having an emotional support animal can be a real gift!

To get a legitimate Emotional Support Animal, go through a licensed mental health professional in the real world or online. The ESA letter must be written on the licensed mental health professional’s official letterhead and include their licensing information. 

The letter will include;

  • Physician’s name, license number, state, and the date it was issued
  • Written on the doctor’s letterhead
  • Signature
  • The letter is only valid for one year.

You & Your ESA in Kentucky

If you feel you would benefit from having an Emotional Support Animal, your first step is to find a mental health professional. This person will then evaluate your situation and make his or her recommendation.

Once you have your official ESA letter, be sure to choose an animal that will be suitable for a college campus, apartment, or other rental housing.

Getting the help you need with an Emotional Support Animal by your side can mean the difference between just living and living well.

Qualify for an ESA Letter Today


Get the Love and Support you deserve!