The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) allows people with disabilities to bring their service animal or emotional support animal into restaurants, grocery stores, hospitals, public transportation, etc. An emotional support animal is an animal that provides therapeutic benefits to its owner through companionship and affection. Emotional support animals provide therapy such as comfort or relief from loneliness or depression without being trained to perform specific tasks directly related to the person’s disability.
What is an Emotional Support Animal?
An emotional support animal (ESA) is a type of pet that can help improve the mental health of its owner. The person could have a diagnosed mental disorder, such as post-traumatic stress disorder or social anxiety, or simply be going through an emotionally difficult time. The ESA is not considered a medical device but has been known to provide relief for many people. There are a few requirements you must meet if you want to own one and they include:
- They need to be prescribed by a licensed therapist.
- They must live with the individual who wants them and it cannot be just any pet – it needs to meet certain requirements.
- These animals do not have to undergo any formal training nor do they require certification before they can live with their owners.
- When traveling on public transportation and in public areas; there may be restrictions that may prohibit animals from being present.
- If your ESA requires a special diet then you should discuss this first with your physician or veterinarian before implementing changes.
Federal Laws for Emotional Support Animals
If you’re traveling with an emotional support animal, it’s recommended that you carry a letter from a mental health professional, including diagnosis and treatment information. This is the only way to ensure that your ESA will be covered under the FHA. Airlines are not required to allow passengers on flights with emotional support animals unless they have one of these letters. Airlines also can require passengers traveling with ESAs to provide documentation of their need for an ESA. It should specify what tasks the animal is trained to perform, such as calming down during panic attacks or distracting its owner when severe anxiety strikes. There are no federal laws pertaining to emotional support animals in public places like restaurants, stores, or offices. They typically fall under state and local law. However, it is against federal law for a landlord to refuse to rent out the property because the tenant has an ESA; plus property owners cannot ban tenants from keeping ESAs in common areas. These rights do not apply if the space specifically prohibits pets by the policy.
The Fair Housing Act for ESA
Under the Fair Housing Act, emotional support animals are allowed at all times as long as they do not pose a direct threat. This means that emotional support animals are not subject to pet weight or breed restrictions and are also not considered a nuisance. Landlords may not impose special rules for ESA tenants other than requiring that service dogs be leashed. The owner is responsible for any damage caused by the animal and should clean up after them. Tenants with ESA should inform their landlords about the need for an emotional support animal. It should not be more than 14 days before entering into a lease agreement. If the landlord does not respond within 10 days of receiving this notice, the tenant will be able to assume permission has been granted. If the response from the landlord is negative; the tenant can request reconsideration of this decision through a formal process set forth by HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.
The Air Carrier Access Act
Service animals are welcome on flights and can travel in the cabin with their owner. The Air Carrier Access Act mandates that airlines must permit service animals; provided they fit under the seat or in an overhead compartment. Emotional support animals are not permitted on flights, but they may be carried as cargo on a flight if it’s part of the passenger’s itinerary. For more information about this topic, please contact your airline for clarification. The ADA requires access to public places for people who have disabilities. A place is considered public if there is no admission fee and the general public is invited to come in or visit, such as stores, theaters, restaurants, and museums.
A reasonable modification is usually granted so that individuals with disabilities can participate equally in the services available at a place of public accommodation. Requests should be reasonable.
Psychiatric Service Dogs and the Americans with Disabilities Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a service animal as a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Service animals are not pets. They are highly-trained living aids for disabled people. Service dogs provide invaluable support such as guiding the blind, pulling wheelchairs, picking up dropped objects, and providing life-saving assistance in emergencies. However, they can also be found doing emotional support work like calming down their owner during a panic attack or reducing claustrophobia by limiting space. But what about when it comes to psychiatric service dogs?