The Legality Of Emotional Support Animals
There is a ton of misinformation in the internet regarding whether or not emotional support animals have legal rights or not. Since people are free to say whatever they feel like, stories may be misconstrued about the rights and treatment of emotional support animals. But the facts are painfully obvious: many people are inflicted with mental and psychological disorders that need or are greatly benefited by the owning of an emotional support animal.
People who own ESAs have spoken with a licensed therapist or medical professional who has diagnosed them and written them a recommendation to own an emotional support animal. Their pet, which acts as their companion in their daily life, is there to create a comfort zone for their owners. There are many traumatic instances which a person may experience which would lead them to need an ESA.
But in which instances is having an emotional support animal protected under law? There are two laws, which prevent discrimination against people with ESAs: the Fair Housing Act and the Air Carrier Access Act.
The Fair Housing Act
The Fair Housing Act, FHA, was created to give rental rights to people without discrimination from the property owner or the landlord. Over the years, this act has changed to give protection to many people.
In the case of somebody with an emotional support animal, a licensed professional with a mental disability has diagnosed the person. The renter or property owner cannot discriminate based on the mental disability of the person and must allow the individual a fair and equal opportunity to rent.
The Air Carrier Access Act
The Air Carrier Access Act, the ACAA, allows somebody the opportunity for a place on an airplane to bring along his or her emotional support animal. This law was enacted to create accessible airports and airplanes for all people, but has evolved to allow people with psychological disabilities to carry on their ESAs for comfort.
In the case of somebody with an emotional support animal, the airline must be notified by the individual in advance that they will need to bring their ESA onto the flight. This allows the airline to make proper adjustments and accommodations for the person and the emotional support animal.
These two laws only protect the person if they have the proper documentation that says that the pet acts as an emotional support animal for the individual caring for it. But with this, the individual is protected from being charged extra fees for having the ESA.
Is an ESA legal in other situations?
Unlike trained service animals, most emotional support animals are untrained and therefore not legally protected and the service animals are. But that does not mean that it is not possible to take them out in public places like service animals.
With an emotional support animal and a corresponding letter from a licensed therapist, it may be the case that institutions such as public restaurants and hotels allow for you to bring your ESA. This means that you will have to check whether or not you are able to have the animal with somebody who works there, such as the concierge. By having an ESA letter and a well-behaved animal, it is possible to have your ESA accompany you to many public places.
Remember that you have to keep your ESA letter updated or else many of the privileges and laws that protect you will no longer be active. If you have any questions regarding whether or not you need to renew your letter, or any other questions regarding ESAs, feel free to contact us at Emotional Support Animal Co.