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Rules and Regulations About Emotional Support Animals

Brown vizsla dog in bowtie holding gavel in mouth

Combating mental illness is no easy task, and an emotional support animal (ESA) can help to blunt the symptoms through companionship and support. Unlike service animals, emotional support animals help individuals with psychological challenges, conditions, and disabilities.

Understanding the rules and regulations regarding emotional support animals is an important part of owning an ESA. Knowledge is power!

ESAs in the United States are governed by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), and the Fair Housing Act. Some of the ins and outs of these regulations can be tricky when it comes to ESA’s. Emotional support animals are fundamentally different than Service Animals and Psychiatric Service Dogs, even though they’re all governed by the same sets of rules and regulations.

Let’s dig into some of the major points that you need to be aware of.

Housing Regulations Regarding Emotional Support Animals

A big challenge for pet owners can be finding housing that accommodates pets. Title II of the ADA includes a provision that allows for the reasonable accommodation of assistive animals in housing. If you own an ESA, you can’t be denied housing for your animal in the same way that wheelchair users can’t be denied wheelchair access to housing.

Here’s what landlords CAN’T do regarding ESA’s under federal law.

  • Deny housing
  • Exclude breeds
  • Restrict size
  • Charge fees
  • Require deposits
  • Discriminate in any way against the individual

Owners must be able to provide documentation in order to get around these issues, which is the key to working with an ESA. A verified diagnosis is required, along with the proper ESA paperwork.

Air Travel Regulations for Emotional Support Animals

Before getting to the airport, ESA owners should familiarize themselves with the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA). Owners MUST travel with a letter from their mental health professional in order to get the accommodations they need when traveling with their ESA.

The ACAA guarantees that individuals with disabilities can travel without being discriminated against. For people with ESAs, that means they can’t be denied their support animal through any of the following:

  • Refusal of service
  • Limiting of transportation
  • Charging of fees

Airlines can require prior notification of ESAs, which is an important part of the process that you must be aware of in order to avoid potential problems. An ESA is considered a non-standard service, which requires planning ahead so that airlines to make arrangements.

For international travel, always check with the country that you’re traveling to so that you can be sure that you’re in compliance with the laws of the land that are appropriate for the country that you’re going to. Don’t get caught unprepared when you’re traveling with your ESA! There are separate law for every country that you might be traveling to.

Whatever you do, be sure to contact professionals like those here at MyPetCerts, who can guide you through navigating the process of working with an emotional support animal. The rules and regulations that guide these incredible creatures are generally straightforward and easy to understand. There’s no reason to be confused! Knowing them will help you to make sense of the process and to keep things running smoothly and easily.


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