Emotional support animals help people with mental and emotional disabilities. They enjoy various perks under federal laws as compared to normal pets. These include reasonable accommodation, access to public places, etc.
Many emotional support animal owners have confusion about whether their comfort animals are allowed in hotels or not. What do the laws say? How to find an ESA-friendly hotel? Let’s discuss.
Emotional Support Animals Are NOT Service Animals
An emotional support animal is a comfort animal that provides love and companionship to an individual with a mental or emotional disability. Usually ESAs are dogs and cats. But, they can also be rodents, birds, snakes, etc. To qualify for an emotional support animal, you need to get evaluated by a licensed therapist.
Many think that emotional support animals and service animals are the same. But, they are different. Service animals are trained to perform specific tasks for individuals with disabilities. For instance, for a visually impaired person, a service dog can guide them around obstacles. Service animals are legally allowed to accompany their owners in public places.
Are Emotional Support Animals Allowed in Hotels?
Emotional support animals play a vital role in the lives of people with disabilities. For instance, an ESA can help a person fight anxiety by distracting their mind from negative thoughts.
Usually, ESAs aren’t allowed in hotels and restaurants. This is probably due to the fact that they consider the safety and health of their visitors. So, they exclude emotional support animals from the list of guests.
However, some hotels may allow emotional support dogs to accompany their owners. So, you need to check the hotel’s website for their rules & regulations for emotional support animals.
What do The Laws Say?
There are mainly two federal laws for protecting people with disabilities-
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in public and private places.
Under the ADA, emotional support animals aren’t serviced animals. Service animals can accompany their owners in most public places.
For instance, Walmart allows service animals, but not emotional support animals. The retailer has confirmed that they allow service animals as defined by the ADA. They don’t permit pets.
The Fair Housing Act (FHA) states that tenants with disabilities can’t be denied reasonable accommodation by landlords and housing facilities in the United States. The law applies even to the apartments with a no-pet policy.
Under the FHA, landlords can’t charge extra pet deposits or fees for reasonable accommodation to their tenants.
How to Find an ESA-Friendly Hotel?
Many hotels allow emotional support animals, understanding the importance of pet therapy for visitors with disabilities. They regard ESAs as similar to service animals. You can check their websites regarding emotional support animal regulations.
However, some hotels haven’t clearly displayed the emotional support animal “allowed” or “not allowed” signs. They may allow visitors to stay with their assistance animals. So, before booking a room, make sure you politely state your disability and requirement to stay with your ESA. You can do so on the phone or by sending an email to the hotel.
In some cases, visitors may need to submit their emotional support animal letters written by licensed mental health professionals.
Hotels that permit pets will also permit emotional support animals.
It’s important to note that pet policies may vary from hotel to hotel. Some charge additional fees for housekeeping or other purposes while others don’t charge any fees. If your emotional support animal causes damages to the hotel property, the hotel may charge you the same fees for repairs.
The best way to find an ESA-friendly hotel is to search on Google. Simply put ESA-friendly hotels in [your destination] in the search box, and you will get a wide range of options to choose from. Shortlist 4-5 hotels, compare their services and select the best one.
Apply For Your Emotional Support Animal Letter
An emotional support animal letter is a kind of official document, which shows that you have a disability, and your ESA is helping you deal with your symptoms.
At My ESA Doctor, you can get your emotional support animal letter in just 10 minutes. The process involves following simple steps-
Register your account
Complete a prequalification form. It will take a few minutes
See a licensed mental health professional via video call
If approved, we will send your ESA letter through email
Covering it up—emotional support animals enjoy certain benefits under federal laws, and they may accompany their owners in hotels. However, you should check your hotel’s ESA policy since it may vary from hotel to hotel. Talk to the hotel staff about your disability and requirement to stay with your ESA before booking a room.
As the owner of your ESA, you are responsible for handling your animal. Your hotel may charge you costs for repairs to damages caused by your animal. So, make sure you train your ESA. Teach it the basic commands; sit, stay, down, come and heel.
Most importantly, register your animal as an emotional support animal. Your hotel may ask you for your ESA letter to verify your disability and need for pet therapy.
See a therapist to get your ESA letter today!