Emotional support animals (ESAs) are pets that accompany individuals with mental health issues such as PTSD, anxiety, panic disorder, and more. They are also helpful to those with emotional health issues. A lot of people think that ESAs are a hoax since they are not trained like service animals.
However, people that own these pets know how important they are to their emotional and mental well-being. Did you know that each American state has its own laws regarding ESAs? In Texas, an ESA must be allowed to reside with its owner without any extra compensation.
If you are a Texas resident who wishes to continue living with your beloved pet, then getting them registered as an ESA would be the best decision! Keep reading to find out more.
Also see – How to Register Your Dog as an Emotional Support Animal
ESA Laws In Texas
Housing providers are required to comply with the owners of emotional support animals as a medical necessity. These animals are also exempt from size and breed restrictions in buildings. These rights are provided by the Fair Housing Act and guidance from the United States Department of Housing and are applicable in the state of Texas.
Domesticated animals such as dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, fish, hamsters, and turtles, can be kept as an ESA in the home.
Several laws, including the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, provide rights to assistance animals (ADA). Both are federal laws that apply to all 50 states, including Texas. The ADA governs service animals, which are specially trained to help people with physical or mental disabilities.
ESAs do not require any special training and can provide comfort to those in mental or emotional distress simply by being present around their owners. Emotional support animal owners have rights under the federal Fair Housing Act, which requires landlords to accommodate tenants who require an assistance animal in a reasonable manner.
What Laws Protect ESAs in Texas?
As mentioned above, there are several laws that provide protection to ESAs in the state of Texas. Let’s take a look at these laws in detail.
Fair Housing Act
If you have an ESA letter qualifying your pet as an emotional support dog/ cat, etc, from a certified healthcare professional and clinic, you are entitled to ESA protection while renting a property. The law is in place for people with a disability, physical or mental, so they have access to fair and equal housing.
This law also includes the properties where pets aren’t normally allowed. So, if a landlord is giving you trouble for keeping a pet in your apartment, you can present your ESA letter to them to close the matter. Legally, they are allowed to ask for your letter as well.
University campus housing is also protected by the Fair Housing Act in Texas, but this is not valid for dorm rooms. However, one thing you must keep in mind is that you would be held liable if your pet causes any damage to property, regardless of it being an ESA. Similar to landlords, universities can also request to see your ESA letter as proof.
If you are traveling to Texas, you should choose a pet-friendly hotel as they are not required by law to let your ESA stay.
Transportation and Air Travel Laws
Due to people misusing their ESA privileges in the past, they are no longer allowed on public transportation like trains and buses. However, it entirely depends, as some buses and trains may allow you to board with your pets.
If you want to travel with your ESA through airways, that may not be possible either. Earlier, the Air Carrier Access Act required airlines to make accommodations for people flying with their ESAs, but that has changed to only service dogs now.
It may still be possible to travel with a small dog, which is also entirely dependent on the airlines. You would have to keep it under your seat and pay a carry-on fee though.
Related – Pros and Cons of Banning Emotional Support Animals on Airplanes
Public Access Laws
Wondering if you can take your ESA to the local grocery store? Well, legally the answer is no for most locations. Let’s look at some other common questions amongst Texas residents regarding ESAs.
How Can I Get An ESA Letter In Texas?
Getting an ESA letter in Texas is so easy you do not even have to leave your house! My ESA Doctor provides you with online consultations with certified mental health professionals. Once approved, we will send you the letter through email.
What Animals Can Be ESAs?
Almost all domestic animals can be ESAs, such as dogs, cats, mice, birds, rabbits, mini pigs, etc.
What Is the Most Comforting Animal?
Dogs are known to be the most friendly and compassionate animals. Some breeds are better at comforting than others.
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