Emotional support animals can come in all shapes, sizes, and species, unlike service animals, which have primarily fallen into the capable paws of the canine species. Although under the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA) any species of animal can be considered an ESA, the problem with Pit Bulls does not lie with this organization, but rather the Breed-Specific Legislation that many states are now implementing.
In this post, we will cover some facts on ESA’s and why the breed-specific laws DO NOT prohibit the use of Pit Bulls as emotional support animals.
What is an Emotional Support Animal?
An Emotional Support Animal (ESA) is any animal that brings comfort to those people diagnosed with a mental or emotional disability. These animals are not specifically trained to do a task and do not have the same rights and privileges as a service dog, but they are protected by federal laws for travel and housing. In order to qualify a pet as an emotional support animal, you must get an ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional on a therapist’s official letterhead.
What is Breed-Specific Legislation?
Breed-specific legislation is a relatively new law that has been implemented in many states and counties, banning those breeds of dogs that are deemed as vicious (Pit Bulls fall into this category). However, what this legislation is failing to take into account is that not all Pit Bulls (or the many other “Bully” breeds) are a danger to people or other animals. In fact, these dogs, raised in the right environment, are extremely loving, gentle and loyal.
Even though local laws may try and enforce breed-specific legislation laws, Federal laws protecting emotional support animals supersede these local laws. The FHA or Fair Housing Act protects individuals with ESA Pit Bulls to live with their handlers in their permanent homes and apartments.
Can Pit Bulls Be Used as Emotional Support Dogs?
Pit Bulls can be wonderful emotional support dogs and if they do not cause a disturbance or any damages they must be accepted by your landlord as an ESA. Your dog must be well behaved and be under your control to qualify as an emotional support animal.
Before you get a Pit Bull as an emotional support animal, be sure to check with your city’s bylaws to be sure you can legally own one. If you already have a Pit Bull and are using it as an emotional support animal, having your paperwork in order to prove the dog is indeed there as a support system over a pet, may be what keeps your Pit Bull in your possession.