ESA Requirements

Are ESA Requirements Different from State to State?

More and more people are adding emotional support animals (ESAs) as a part of their mental health treatment plan. This is because studies show that emotional support animals can offer comfort to handlers who suffer from mental health issues.

In fact, one study found that handlers experienced an 82% reduction in PTSD symptoms after having an emotional support animal for just two weeks.

However, before you get an emotional support animal or register your pet as one, it’s important to know the ESA guidelines in your state. Do ESA requirements differ from state to state? Read on to find out.

What is an Emotional Support Animal?

While many of our pets offer us emotional support, it’s important to understand that there’s a legal difference between a regular pet and an emotional support animal.

For a pet to be considered an emotional support animal, it needs to be prescribed by a licensed mental health professional to a person suffering from mental illness. A psychiatrist, psychologist, or therapist must determine that the presence of a pet is needed for the mental benefit of the patient. For example, a therapist may prescribe an emotional support animal to someone with anxiety to ease their symptoms. This great resource for ESA can tell you more about getting your pet certified.

It’s also crucial to understand that an emotional support animal is different from a service dog. A service dog is trained to help someone who suffers from a specific disability, such as vision impairment, seizure disorders, mental illness, or diabetes.

A service dog can help assist their owner with their disabilities, whereas an emotional support animal specifically provides therapeutic benefits through companionship.

Are ESA Requirements Different From State to State?

No, emotional support animal requirements do not differ from state to state. However, there are a few caveats. The main three laws that govern emotional support animals are federal laws, and therefore, these laws apply across all 50 states.

The three laws that dictate ESA requirements are the Fair Housing Act, the Aircraft Carrier Housing Act, and the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Fair Housing Act

The Fair Housing Act requires landlords with no-pet policies to make reasonable accommodations for those with emotional support animals. While the act doesn’t explicitly state that landlords need to allow emotional support animals on their property, it does state that landlords can’t discriminate against potential tenants because they belonged to a disadvantaged group.

While FHA policies apply to federal law, some states do have qualifying terms.

Aircraft Carrier Housing Act

This act allows owners to bring their emotional support animals into airplane cabins instead of placing them in the hold of the aircraft.

This law remains fairly consistent from state to state, as most aircraft fly from one state to the next. To bring your pet on board, you’ll just need a certified official ESA Letter.

Americans With Disabilities Act

This act aims to protect owners and their emotional support animals from being discriminated against. The act protects people from having to disclose information about their mental illness when being questioned by an authority figure.

The only thing a patient needs to present is their ESA letter to prove their reasoning for bringing their pet with them.

Is it Time for an Emotional Support Animal?

As you can see, ESA requirements are pretty straightforward. If you think an ESA could be a benefit to your mental health, speak to your therapist or healthcare provider.

And, be sure to check back in with our blog for more mental health tips!

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