If you own an emotional support animal in the Sooner State, you are protected by federal housing laws. Owners of ESAs in Oklahoma are allowed to live with their animals without any additional fees or deposits, even in buildings that prohibit pets. 

In this article, we will explain how a resident of Oklahoma can legally qualify for an emotional support animal.

What is an ESA?

Pet owners understand how loved an animal can make you feel. For people who have an emotional or mental health condition, the company of an animal can help manage their symptoms. 

An emotional support animal, also known as an ESA, is much more than a pet. Explicitly meant for their owner’s mental health disability, an ESA doesn’t require any additional training. An ESA just needs to be present for their owner. 

Without their animal, an ESA owner may have more difficulty dealing with their symptoms. Because ESAs are vital for their owner’s well-being, ESAs are protected under the Fair Housing Act (FHA). The FHA is a federal law that protects an ESA owner’s right to live with their animal. Under FHA laws, landlords must offer reasonable accommodations to ESA owners who have a valid ESA letter. 

That essentially means that a landlord cannot enforce a no-pet policy or breed or size restrictions on the owner of an ESA. Landlords in Oklahoma also cannot charge pet fees or deposits when it comes to ESAs.

What is an ESA letter?

An ESA letter is an official document that verifies an animal as an emotional support animal. The letter, which is written by a licensed mental health professional, assures landlords that an animal falls under FHA laws and is considered an ESA. With a valid ESA letter, an animal can reside with their owner, even in “no pets allowed” rentals.

How can you get an ESA letter in Oklahoma?

An ESA letter in Oklahoma must be issued by a licensed mental healthcare professional currently licensed to practice within the state. In Oklahoma, your ESA letter must also meet the following criteria: 

  • Issued within the past year
  • Documented on the professional’s letterhead
  • State that an ESA is necessary for alleviating symptoms 

ESA letters are either obtained through in-person appointments or telehealth appointments online. If you need an ESA evaluation in Oklahoma, ESA Doctors can connect you with a friendly professional licensed for your state.

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What is a Psychiatric Service Dog (PSD)? 

Emotional support animals are often mistaken for psychiatric service dogs, also known as PSDs. While both ESAs and PSDs assist people with emotional or mental health disorders, they differ significantly. 

An ESA, for example, does not need any training. In contrast, a PSD must undergo extensive training for public access and to perform tasks for their owner. Like all service dogs, PSD must undergo specialized, focused training to learn how to assist their handlers. 

Both ESAs and service dogs like PSDs are covered under the FHA. In addition, PSDs have additional protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA). Under the ADA, service dogs may follow their owners in areas that are accessible to the general public. For example, a PSD may accompany their owner into a public library or grocery store, while an ESA may not. Similarly, the ACAA allows service dogs onto airplanes without additional fees, whereas ESAs may not have the same privilege. If you qualify for a psychiatric service dog, you do not need an ESA letter. However, many PSD owners will obtain PSD letters to prove they have an eligible mental health disability.

Where You Can Adopt an ESA

If you live in Oklahoma and think an animal could help ease your symptoms, there are various Oklahoma pet adoption sites where anyone can find the furry friend of their dreams. The following are highly-rated adoption sites in Oklahoma:

Pet Rescue, Animal shelter, Oklahoma

Route 66 Pet Rescue

Located in Tulsa, Route 66 Pet Rescue is a no-kill rescue organization that finds forever homes for stray cats and dogs. All their animals are vaccinated and vet-checked to ensure they’ll be healthy and ready for their adoptive families. To confirm that a potential home is a good match, Route 66 Pet Rescue conducts home visits before approving a potential home.

Forever Yours, Animal shelter, Oklahoma

Forever Yours 

Forever Yours Dog Rescue in Oklahoma City has a large pool of loving animals to choose from. However, this site offers more than just adoptions; it also services the community through education, on-site workshops, and preventative care. They aim to reduce the number of surrendered and homeless animals and encourage adoption and pet care.

Prairie Pet, Animal shelter, Oklahoma

Prairie Pet Coalition

The Pet Prairie Coalition in Tulsa focuses on furry felines, serving as a cats-only no-kill organization. Established in May 2019, the Pet Prairie Coalition strives to find safe indoor homes for cats in feral colonies. They help cats of all ages and take in cats with special needs. Cats are fostered until adopted, ensuring they will be in good health and socialized in time for their forever home.

Happy adopted dog running outside in park
If you’re looking for your perfect ESA in Oklahoma, one of the several highly-rated pet adoption sites will have the happy, furry friend you need.

Where You Can Take Your ESA for Exercise in Oklahoma

With a multitude of outdoor activities to choose from, Oklahoma is perfect for weekday strolls and weekend hikes. The following are a few ideas for where you can take your ESA for exercise in Oklahoma.

Turkey Mountain 

Turkey Mountain via Yellow Trail is a moderately strenuous 3.7-mile hike in Tulsa. Just 10 minutes from downtown, you can hike with your ESA in the morning and eat lunch at a Tulsa restaurant within hours. This gorgeous hike is excellent for kids and furbabies, making it an activity everyone in the family can enjoy.

Bluff Creek Park

Located in Oklahoma City, Bluff Creek Park is a local favorite. Tree-lined and well-maintained, Bluff Creek Park also includes a playground area, paved walking paths, and huge open fields. Full of nature but safe for ESA, this park has everything you need for you and your ESA. You may even see one or two deer!

Emotional Support Animals and Oklahoma Law

In 2017, HUD charged landlords in Oklahoma with violations of the FHA law. The tenant was a combat veteran who required his ESA to reduce the symptoms of his mental disability. The landlords denied the veteran reasonable accommodations for his ESA. The landlords had refused to waive a $250 pet deposit fee for the home the tenant was renting. The tenant filed a complaint with HUD and ultimately won his case.

Qualify for an ESA Letter in Oklahoma today.

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