What dog wouldn’t want to live somewhere called the “Garden State”? New Jersey, with its cities and suburbs, is an excellent place for furry friends. Most of New Jersey has an easygoing and pet-friendly atmosphere. The Garden State is an ideal place to watch the seasons change with your pet or ESA.
What is an ESA?
For a person with emotional or mental health issues, an emotional support animal (ESA) offers comfort in times of need and allows them to heal. An ESA is an integral part of their treatment.
Many people mistake emotional support animals for service animals. However, their jobs are quite different:
- A service animal fulfills a specific task that a person with a disability is unable to do themselves. For example, service animals help detect seizures in people with epilepsy or assist with preventing falls in people with mobility issues.
- An ESA doesn’t need any special training to perform a specific task. They provide comfort and security to people with emotional or mental health disorders. ESA’s accomplish this by merely being close to their owner.
ESAs, along with service animals, are protected under federal laws, namely the Fair Housing Act (FHA).
What is an ESA Letter?
An ESA is a part of a patient’s treatment plan to help manage their mental or emotional disorder. An ESA letter is written by the healthcare professional who is treating the patient and provides documentation attesting that the presence of the animal help overcome disabilities caused by the patient’s disorder.
An ESA letter provides proof of treatment, signifying that the federal ADA and FHA laws apply to the animal and patient. The ESA letter allows emotional support animals to travel and live with their owner in areas not usually accessed by pets.
Who Can Write an ESA Letter in New Jersey?
ESA letters can only be written by a licensed medical healthcare professional (LMHP). A few of the professions covered under this title are:
- licensed clinical social workers (LCSW)
- licensed marriage and family therapists (LMFT)
- licensed nurses practitioners
How to Get an ESA Letter in New Jersey
An ESA letter can be obtained either online or in person. If a patient is currently in treatment, they can inquire with their healthcare professional about incorporating an ESA into their treatment. If the healthcare professional decides that an ESA would be beneficial, they can write a letter.
In order for an ESA letter to be valid, it must be issued by an LMHP who is licensed in New Jersey.ESA Doctors, est. 2015
If the patient is currently not seeing a therapist or their LMHP isn’t licensed in the state the patient’s residence, they can inquire about getting an ESA letter through a legitimate online service providing telemedicine.
Where You Can Go with Your ESA
Many businesses are very accepting of ESAs. However, if a business does not allow pets, then ESAs are not allowed either. ESAs only have the right to be in the following areas:
- Rental units and residences with no pets policy
- College dorms
- Places you can adopt an ESA, such as animal shelters
Where You Can Adopt an ESA
If you’re searching for your ESA, you may find it at one of the following highly-rated New Jersey pet rescue centers.
North Star Pet Rescue
Located in Boonton, New Jersey, North Star Pet Rescue seeks homeless dogs and finds them forever homes. Open since 2017, North Star Pet Rescue has already earned the prestigious GOLD certification level from GuideStar as an ethical and transparent non-profit. North Star prides itself on taking at-risk and homeless animals and transforming them into sociable, adoptable pets.
Animal Alliance New Jersey
Founded in 2001, the Animal Alliance New Jersey, located in Lambertville, places more than 500 pets a year into their forever homes. Besides adoptions, Animal Alliance also provides low-cost medical care and pet wellness services for pets who are part of a family in need.
Happy Paws Rescue
Happy Paws Rescue encourages people who adopt their animals to give them a “second leash on life.” This non-profit group rescues dogs and cats from high-kill shelters—animals with the least probability of getting adopted—and turn them into adoptable, sociable pets.
Your ESA in New Jersey
Here’s a few New Jersey news nuggets about ESA’s and service animals!
A New Jersey housing complex was fined thousands of dollars after refusing to allow a renter to have a doctor-prescribed ESA in her residence. The complexes have since changed their policies regarding allowing ESA into their complex.
New Jersey has a state dog. It’s not a Golden Retriever or Chihuahua; it’s not any specific dog breed. As of 2020, New Jersey’s state dog is a service dog! New Jersey chose the Seeing Eye dog for its work with visually impaired people.