Colorado is the place dogs must dream about, with its clear skies, mountain landscapes, and endless space to run free. Ask any local from Colorado, and they’ll tell you that it is the ideal place to have a dog. Winning top spots as one of the nation’s best and dog-friendliest states makes it all the more convenient to get an ESA in Colorado.
For people with emotional support animals (ESA), Colorado is an accommodating environment. And if your ESA is a dog, the state provides a variety of places where a dog can be a dog.
What is an Emotional Support Animal?
An emotional support animal (ESA) is a dog or other small, domesticated animal (like a cat, bird, fish, or guinea pig) that offers companionship, comfort, and a feeling of safety to someone with a mental or emotional health condition. For an ESA to be legal, you need an ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional. Unlike service animals, an ESA does not require training to perform a specific task, and access rights of ESAs are a little more limited.
Emotional support animals are protected by the Fair Housing Act. Individuals who own Emotional support animals cannot be discriminated against by landlords. A building’s policies and restrictions that apply to other pets do not apply to ESAs. That means ESAs are allowed even in no-pets buildings.
What Is An ESA Letter?
An ESA letter provides documentation that an animal functions as part of the owner’s emotional or mental health treatment. The ESA letter differentiates an ESA from a normal pet and allows them to live in homes that have no-pets policies. Emotional support animals are also exempt from breed and weight limitations.
Who can write an ESA letter?
The person writing the ESA letter must be a licensed mental health professional (LMHP). This includes health professionals such as:
- licensed clinical social workers (LCSW),
- psychologists, and
- licensed nurses and nurse practitioners.
An ESA letter can be obtained both in-person and online. If you are already seeing a therapist and believe an ESA could be beneficial, you should discuss your needs with your LMHP. They may be able to assess your situation and recommend an ESA. Fair warning: not all LMHPs are familiar with emotional support animals or feel comfortable issuing ESA letters.
If you currently do not have a therapist or doctor, online services are also available. Though many are reputable and legitimate, you may have to be careful about which service you choose. Do a bit of homework before you commit, and make sure to check their process and client reviews.
Should you decide to use an online ESA service, make sure that you are connected with an LMHP licensed for the State of Colorado.ESA Doctors, est. 2015
Laws about getting an ESA In Colorado
Although it’s always essential to ensure your emotional support animal is valid, you may be breaking the law in Colorado if you don’t qualify for an ESA the right way! Colorado’s House Bill 16-1426, signed into law on June 10, 2016, criminalizes the intentional misrepresentation of an assistance animal. Fines can be issued, with an increase in fees for every subsequent offense. For both legal and ethical reasons, it’s important to have an ESA letter from a reputable source to prove that you own a legitimate emotional support animal.
Where You Can Go With Your ESA
An ESA does not need any specialized task training, but they need to be well-behaved and not pose a safety or health risk to others. ESAs have the right to live with you in your home, even if your housing provider generally prohibits pets. It’s important to be aware that ESAs do not have a legal right to be in public places like stores and restaurants. ESAs also no longer have the right to fly in the cabin of planes without charge.
The only type of assistance animal for mental or emotional health disabilities allowed to board the cabin free of charge are psychiatric service dogs. Psychiatric service dogs, or PSDs, are similar to emotional support animals except for one major difference: they must be fully trained to perform work or a task relating to the handler’s disability.
Licensed mental health professionals can issue PSD letters for people interested in qualifying for a psychiatric service dog. A PSD letter helps establish whether your condition qualifies for a psychiatric service dog under the ADA and Air Carrier Access Act. If you need help qualifying for a PSD letter from a licensed mental health professional, just click on the link below:
If you are interested in a Psychiatric Service Dog Letter, we are happy to connect you with a licensed healthcare provider so they may assist you.
Get your Psychiatric Service Dog Letter Now
Where You Can Adopt an ESA in Colorado
PawsCo is a popular Colorado non-profit with animals available for adoption. They work closely with their animals to ensure that they are properly socialized and adoption-ready.
South Platte Valley Humane Society
This Humane Society animal shelter in Littleton, Colorado, always receives excellent reviews for their caring staff and well-socialized animals.
All Breed Rescue and Training
The All Breed Rescue and Training center, located near Colorado Springs, is the place to go if you want a socialized and trained dog. They ensure that their rescues are adoptable and sociable.
Where You Can Take Your PSD for Exercise, Especially Before a Flight
If you’re flying with a psychiatric service dog, you should allow them to get exercise and relieve themselves before going to the airport. The following are top-rated dog parks near Denver International Airport.
Denver International Airport Dogpark
One of the best things about Denver International Airport (DIA) is its very own state-of-the-art dog park and hotel. Most airports are obligated by law to provide areas where pets can “do their business.” The DIA goes above and beyond by offering an on-airport pet resort hotel.
SingleTree Dog Park
Don’t let the name fool you; the dog park has a ton of trees. It’s also located only a few miles outside of the Denver International Airport and is a park within a park. You can walk your dog on a leash in the park or let your dog run wild within the dog park itself.
The Lowry Dog Park
Well-loved by locals, the Lowry Dog Park is located near Denver International Airport. Although the park is roomy, the dog park is far from the parking lot, so bring a leash!
Your ESA in Colorado
An expose by the KOAA local news team showed how easy it could be for someone to fake the need for an ESA. The crew used the ESA letter and took a potbelly pig to a Starbucks, Subway, and movie theater–areas where ESAs do not have a legal right to be. People who fake their need for an ESA hurt legitimate emotional support animal owners who truly need their animals to get by day by day.
It’s important to get an ESA letter from a trustworthy source. You can be penalized under law in Colorado for falsely representing that you have an ESA or a service dog. If the LMHP you are working with is not familiar with ESA regulations. In that case, we can help connect you to an LMHP that specializes in assistance animals and is licensed for Colorado. Click on the button below to apply.