3 Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Laws that You Need to Know

Approximately 1 in 4 adults in the U.S have a mental disorder in at least one year of their lifetime. Treatment and management of mental health disorders such as depression, psychosis, schizophrenia, social anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder take various forms. Patients with mental health problems may get prescriptions for medication, psychotherapy, or both. Sometimes psychotherapy practitioners recommend the use of animals in managing mental health disorders. Therapists use many types of animals to provide emotional support animals (ESAs). The ESAs provide therapeutic companionship and affection to their owners. ESAs are different from service animals, which get specialized training that enable them to support a person with a disability.

Unlike a pet, owning an ESA is a unique thing, and you may need to go everywhere with your ESA. Some airlines and tenants restrict traveling with a pet or owning a pet while occupying rented property. But ESAs are distinct, and they’re often allowed into areas that pets can’t access. The permissions come from the special ESA laws which govern help animal handlers and the use of ESAs. This article presents to you the three major federal laws surrounding ESA ownership and the handling of ESAs.

1. The Fair Housing Act (FHA

Some tenants may not allow you to own and live with a pet within their property. But the Fair Housing Act gives you the legal mandate to live with your ESA in your rented condo or apartment. Based on these laws, ESAs can go into “no pets” housing zones, and the landlords have to make reasonable ESA accommodations. The reasonable accommodation is deniable if your ESA creates an undue administrative or financial burden on the provider of your rental property. If your ESA is a large animal such as a horse, your access to some rental units may be impermissible.

2. The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA)

Some air carriers don’t allow you to fly with your pet for free. But the Air Carrier Access Act provides legal permission to travel for free with your ESA in the airplane’s cabin. Most ESAs are dogs, and if you own a large dog, you can ask the flight support staff to move you to a seat with more room to get space for your ESA. But you should contact the airline in advance to make the arrangements. Note that you’ll have to present an ESA letter from your therapist to get permission to travel with your ESA for free.

3. American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements for an ESA letter

To live and travel with your ESA, you have to get an ESA letter. The letter’s message has to state that you have a diagnosable emotional disability that falls within the definition accepted by the American’s with Disabilities Act. It also has to say that you need the ESA for your psychological therapy and well-being. Your therapist must write the letter on his/her letterhead. The letter has to show the date and signature of your therapist. It also has to show your therapist’s license number and the place and date of issue.

All ESA letters are valid for one year. To get an ESA letter, you have to fill in a questionnaire, and contact your therapist to get the letter. Your ESA isn’t recognizable if you lack an ESA letter. As such, your ESA can’t enjoy all the permissions and freedoms granted to ESAs if you don’t have an official ESA letter.

Legitimate emotional support animal registration and NSARCO

Acquiring legitimate emotional support animal registration is a voluntary task. Registering your ESA makes them more legitimate and recognizable. The legitimate emotional support animal registration also helps in reducing the confrontations and hassles that you may encounter if you lack registration and ESA identifiers. The National Service Animal Registry conducts legitimate emotional support animal registration.

Don’t suffer from a mental or emotional condition in loneliness and silence. Contact your therapist, and get back to lively living by getting an ideal ESA.

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