If you are suffering from a mental health issue in the state of North Carolina, an emotional support animal may help to alleviate your symptoms. Under federal law, owners of emotional support animals have special rights that allow you to live with your ESA, even if your building prohibits pets.
An emotional support animal is a dog, cat, or other small, domesticated animal that provides comfort to people suffering from mental health conditions. ESAs do not require any specialized training — they fulfill their role just through their companionship and presence.
Many people use emotional support animals in conjunction with therapy and prescription medications to improve their mental health. Having an ESA present to provide unconditional love, companionship and support helps countless individuals live a productive and fulfilling life.
In this article, we’ll explain what rights you have as an ESA owner in the Tar Heel State.
To qualify for an emotional support animal in North Carolina, you must have an ESA letter from a healthcare professional licensed for your state. If you are ready to connect with an online healthcare professional specializing in ESAs, you can get started by completing the questionnaire at the link below.
What Conditions Qualify for an ESA in North Carolina?
To qualify for an emotional support animal, you must have a mental or emotional health disability. This includes (but is not limited to) conditions such as severe anxiety, PTSD, phobias, social anxieties, and depression if the condition substantially limits a major life activity like working or socializing.
A licensed healthcare professional is best suited to determine whether you have a qualifying condition and whether an ESA would help. If you meet the criteria for ESA ownership, they can issue an ESA letter. An ESA letter proves that you need an emotional support animal and is the only documentation you need to provide to a landlord to prove that you own an ESA.
How to Get an ESA Letter
An ESA letter must come from a licensed healthcare professional such as a psychologist, psychiatrist, clinical social worker, doctor, or nurse. You can either reach out to a therapist in your area or connect with one online. The internet allows therapists to help clients remotely using modern technology. If you live in North Carolina, ensure that your provider is licensed to practice in North Carolina.
If you would like to be connected with a licensed healthcare professional knowledgeable about ESA recommendations, ESA Doctors can help. The professionals that work with ESA Doctors are compassionate and can issue effective ESA letters for qualifying clients.
ESAs in North Carolina Apartments and Rental Units
Federal housing laws protect ESA owners from discrimination. Landlords must reasonably accommodate ESA owners, even if they have a strict policy that bands pets. ESAs are not considered normal pets and are thus exempt from many rules that would normally apply to an animal in the building.
For example, housing providers are never allowed to charge a fee or deposit for an ESA. Even if they charge a fee or deposit for a normal pet, they can’t do so when it comes to ESAs. Emotional support animals are also exempt from rules that limit the breed, size, or weight of an animal in the building.
Landlords are entitled to see an ESA letter before accommodating an emotional support animal in the building. That is why it is important to get your ESA letter from a licensed healthcare professional who knows how to write ESA letters.
There are some situations where a landlord does not have to allow an ESA on the premises. For example, if the ESA in question has shown that it is a safety or health threat to other tenants, the landlord may deny accommodation. However, it is not acceptable to deny an ESA because it is inconvenient, undesirable, or against the building’s policy banning pets.
Flying with an ESA or Psychiatric Service Dog to and from North Carolina
Emotional support animals are no longer allowed on U.S. flights, but psychiatric service dogs are still welcome. The primary difference between a psychiatric service dog and an ESA is that a PSD must be individually trained to perform a job or task relating to the owner’s disability. PSDs must also be trained to be well-behaved in public settings. A PSD can be denied boarding or asked to leave an airport if it is disruptive or threatening.
The owner of a PSD must also have a psychiatric disability. That can include conditions like severe depression, anxiety, PTSD, or phobias. A licensed healthcare professional can determine whether an individual has a psychiatric disability and issue a PSD letter to qualifying clients.
If you own a fully trained psychiatric service dog, you can board flights with your PSD without any additional charge by submitting the DOT’s service animal transportation form to the airline before departure.
For a helpful guide on traveling with a psychiatric service dog, please click on this link.
How to Get your Psychiatric Service Dog Letter online from ESA Doctors
ESAs and the North Carolina Workplace
Emotional support animals do not have a legal right to be in the workplace in North Carolina. Most employers generally do not allow an ESA to accompany their employees during the workday. There are, however, exceptions and some companies are very welcoming of pets and assistance animals. If you would like to bring an emotional support animal to work, you should check with your HR department to see if your company has a policy for animals in the workplace.
If your healthcare professional is unfamiliar with ESAs or you currently are not seeing anyone, you can find help online. A licensed healthcare professional that works online can provide you with an ESA letter without the need for office visits. If you live in North Carolina, it’s important to ensure that the provider is properly credentialed for your state.