EMOTIONAL SUPPORT DOG FOR SALE
This page contains an updated and complete guide to everything you must know about buying your Emotional Support Animal (ESA Dog).
If you are wondering how to adopt an emotional support dog for sale and will be needing for emotional support dog training, you need honest, reliable, comprehensive information.
Instructions for ‘How To Get A Service Dog’
1. Read our website.
2. Get to know us on Facebook and see 100’s of dogs we trained.
Those with anxiety, depression, difficulty controlling feelings or thoughts often benefit from owning or buying a Registered Emotional Support Animal.
Most of our clients are working professionals and often have clients visit their home or business. Many of our clients are students and have an ESA dog at college. They need a dog that is going to be more than a pet.
Would a Certified Emotional Support Animal make you a happier person?
This page was created to give you comprehensive and exhaustive trustworthy information about ESA Dogs when you buy one. There is a lot of confusion about emotional support dog registration, service dog vs. emotional support dog, emotional support dog letters, emotional support dog training, emotional support dog laws and requirements, how to register an emotional support dog, what is the best emotional support dog breed, or what an ESA is and how one differs from a service dog.
An ESA Dog, emotional support animal is usually a dog that provides emotional and therapeutic benefit to someone suffering with emotional issues, anxiety or psychiatric problems.
If you had an Emotional Support Animal like “Shango” the English Mastiff, it could help you with. . . .
An emotional support dog can be there to calm you when you experience a panic attack.
Postpartum depression can be very difficult, but an ESA or emotional support dog could help ease your pain and help you get through the experience.
An emotional support dog could be your constant in the midst of irregular change if you suffer from bipolar disorder, whether you are cycling low or high activity level.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
An ESA can helpm you relax so you do not obsess and feel the need to do certain things to excess or feel the need to repeat, or think of, them over and over.
An ESA dog can help you with being able to be more deliberative and mindful instead of just acting on desires, thoughts or feelings.
Phobias and Fears
Focusing on one’s emotional support dog can help you to not worry and fret about rational and irrational fears and concerns.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder PTSD can be anything from nightmares to extreme worry/anxiety of past experiences, but your ESA or emotional support dog can be by your side during hard times and help you with your mental health.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Many people get depressed in the wintertime when the days are short and there is not as much sunlight. Your ESA can help you get through the dark time and make it much less distressing.
ESA – Emotional Support Dog Training
Choose the Best Emotional Support Dog Breed For You
With our Service Dog Training you don’t have to buy what are considered by most trainers as the best emotional support animal dog breeds: Labrador and Golden Retriever, German Shepherd or Standard Poodle. We can train most any dog breed to be an ESA. If you are looking for an ESA dog, call us. We offer Registered Emotional Support Dogs For Sale.
The Most Trusted Emotional Support Animal Trainers
What you see in our photos and videos is what the training looks like before and after, and what you can expect. Service Dog School of America is the only service dog or emotional support dog trainer that offers Off-Leash obedience for ESA’s.
CERTIFIED EMOTIONAL SUPPORT DOG TRAINERS
When you get an emotional support animal, you want it to be the best one ever and not regret your decision. This is why it is critical who you decide to buy your dog from, and who will train it. We want you to compare our photos and videos of registered emotional support dogs we trained to what other service dog trainers show you.
NOT a 501(c) with VOLUNTEERS TRAINING ESA DOGS
How would you like to be on a waiting list 2 to 5 years, then pay $15,000 to $45,000 for an assistance animal that was trained by volunteers, not a professional dog trainer? Why do you think 99.9% of Service Dog Agencies don’t have photos or videos of dogs they trained like we do—with dogs off-leash? There isn’t going to be any emotional support when your un-trained ESA dog or service dog runs down the street. You need to be very careful about who you trust and listen to.
FORGET ABOUT WAITING 2 TO 5 YEARS TO GET YOUR ESA DOG
People told us they waited 5 years and still they didn’t get a dog and then had to get on another 2 to 5-year waiting list. With Service Dog School, you can start right away and you will have a trained emotional support animal or service dog within a year, or less.
We understand that if you need a Psychiatric Service Dog, a PTSD emotional support dog, emotional support dog for Anxiety, emotional support dog for Depression, you need a life-changing miracle yesterday. People who are terrified to leave their homes, and have terrible debilitating depression, anxiety or nightmares should not have to wait years for a dog. We have available the best emotional support dogs for you now.
THE EMOTIONAL SUPPORT DOG SCAM
There isn’t going to be any emotional support if your dog runs down the street. Sure, a leash is required in public, but the dogs we train don’t think in terms of running away. Service Dog School of America is the only certified Emotional Support Dog Trainer in N. America teaching Off-Leash obedience to the public and selling trained ESA dogs.
How can you say a dog is trained if you have to fear it running away from you? Most of the service dogs and the service dog training offered to the public are no better than most peoples’ pet dogs—and they average over $20,000. Some of the service dog trainers even have service animals on shock collars. If the dogs were trained, why do they need shock collars?
How the scam works is because it is an ESA Dog and the person wants it so much, the victim fails to consider the folly of paying big bucks for a dog that is not off-leash obedient. The sad part is after you get ripped off, always the con artist makes the victim think it was their fault. Scams take advantage of you wanting something too much and overlooking important details—like if the dogs are trained or not. If you get ripped off it is not your fault; it is the fault of the con artist that scammed you.
Everyone says they train dogs, including “dog trainers” cheating the disabled.
IF YOU WANT A GUARANTEE. We strongly suggest you hire the only service dog trainers that show overwhelming and conclusive proof that they can train dogs for Public Access. Somebody getting results with dogs is going to have a lot to show you.
DOLLIE the THERAPY/ESA DOG
WE TRAIN ALL BREEDS, Get the ESA dog you want!!!
Would you like an ESA dog like Shango that you could take anywhere? Maybe Golden Retrievers and Goldendoodles aren’t you flavor, and you want the best emotional support animal for you.
TRAIN YOUR DOG, RESCUE or SERVICE PUPPY
Would you like an ESA dog so good strangers even trust it with their baby?
INSTANT ENROLLMENT PROCESS No Waiting!!!
We would like to train your emotional support dog and can start pretty much right away.
Honest and Trustworthy Emotional Support Dog Information
How do I get a registered emotional support dog?
How to make my dog an emotional support ESA dog?
ANSWER: The way to go about this is to have a licensed mental health therapist write an Emotional Support Animal Letter, and then you find a trainer selling “Trained Emotional Support Dogs For Sale,” or you look for “Emotional Support Dog Training” for a dog you already own.
YOUR VERY OWN EMOTIONAL SUPPORT DOG
BE CONFIDENT WITH YOUR ESA DOG
AN ESA DOG THAT BRINGS JOY TO OTHERS’ LIVES
AN ESA DOG THAT GIVES YOUR LIFE NEW MEANING
LOOK FORWARD TO WAKING UP IN THE A.M.
LESS DEPRESSION, ANXIETY and WORRY
AN ESA DOG MAKES IT EASIER TO TALK TO OTHERS
SUPPORT DOGS ATTRACT NICE PEOPLE TO YOU
THE BEST DECISION YOU MIGHT EVER MAKE
WE TRAIN ALL BREEDS and SIZES OF ESA DOGS
GET THE ESA DOG BREED YOU ALWAYS WANTED
OFF-LEASH ESA OBEDIENCE WITH DISTRACTIONS
BOY & GIRL EMOTIONAL SUPPORT DOGS
TURN YOUR LIFE AROUND & FIND PURPOSE
YOUR BEST YEARS YET MIGHT BE AN ESA DOG AWAY
YOU NEVER HAVE TO BE ALONE EVER AGAIN
SOMEONE TO LOVE YOU UNCONDITIONALLY
We care and want to help you get an Emotional Support Dog.
Every dog owner knows there are benefits to having a dog, from getting out for exercise to loyal companionship. However, for some people with disabilities, the presence of a dog is critical to their daily functioning. The emotional support and comfort provided by their pet allows them to deal with challenges that might otherwise compromise their quality of life. These pets are known as emotional support animals (ESAs).
What Is an Emotional Support Dog?
Although all dogs offer an emotional connection with their owner, to legally be considered an emotional support dog, the pet needs to be prescribed by a licensed mental health professional to a person with a disabling mental illness. A therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist, for example, must decide that the presence of the animal is needed for the mental health of the patient. For example, owning a pet might ease a person’s anxiety or give him a focus in life.
Emotional Support Dog vs. Service Dogs
Although ESAs provide support through companionship and can help ease anxiety, depression, and certain phobias, they are not service dogs and do not have the same rights. While a service dog, such as a guide dog, is generally allowed anywhere the public is allowed, ESAs are not. So they cannot accompany their owners into restaurants or shopping malls, for example.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines service animals as “dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.” The act clearly states that those animals that simply provide emotional comfort do not qualify as service animals under the ADA. Some state and local laws have a broader definition, so be sure to check with local government agencies to learn if ESAs qualify for public access in your area.
The key difference between a service dog and an ESA is whether the animal has been trained to perform a specific task or job directly related to the person’s disability. For example, alerting a hearing-impaired person to an alarm or guiding a visually impaired person around an obstacle are jobs performed by service dogs. Behaviors such as cuddling on cue, although comforting, would not qualify. The tasks need to be specifically trained, not something instinctive the dog would do anyway.
Emotional Support Animals Are Not Psychiatric Service Dogs
There are service dogs, known as psychiatric service dogs, that work specifically with people whose disability is due to a mental illness. These dogs detect the beginning of psychiatric episodes and help ease their effects. Although this sounds similar to the role of an ESA, the difference between a psychiatric service dog and an ESA is again in the tasks performed by the dog.
Psychiatric service dogs (also covered by the ADA) have been trained to do certain jobs that help the handler cope with a mental illness. For example, the dog might remind a person to take prescribed medications, keep a disoriented person in a dissociative episode from wandering into a hazardous situation like traffic, or perform room searches for a person with post-traumatic stress disorder. If it is simply the dog’s presence that helps the person cope, then the dog does not qualify as a psychiatric service dog.
Legal Rights of Emotional Support Dogs
Although they are not service dogs, ESAs do have certain rights in terms of housing and air travel. The Fair Housing Act includes ESAs in its definition of assistance animals. Under the act, people cannot be discriminated against due to a disability when obtaining housing. Therefore, rules such as no pets, species bans, or pet-size limitations do not apply to people who have a prescription for an ESA, and they cannot be charged a pet deposit for having their ESA live with them.
The Air Carrier Access Act allows service animals and ESAs to accompany their handler in the cabin of an aircraft. The airline might require documentation stating that the person has a disability and the reason why the animal must travel with them. If you intend to travel with an ESA, contact the airline ahead of time to ensure you can provide the appropriate paperwork.
Service animals can only be dogs, but ESAs can be any common domestic animal including dogs, cats, or ferrets, and more. To qualify, the animal must be reasonably well behaved by typical pet standards, such as being toilet trained, and can’t be a nuisance or danger to others.
ESAs perform a critical role in the life of a person with a disability. It is important to realize that attempting to take advantage of the category so your dog can fly with you or live in no-pet housing is an abuse of the system and makes it harder for people with a legitimate need. On the other hand, if you are legally disabled, limited in at least one area of your life, and you believe a dog or other pet would provide you with mental health benefits, see a licensed mental health professional about obtaining a prescription for an ESA.
An emotional support animal (ESA Dog), assistance animal, or support animal, is a companion animal that a medical professional says provides some benefit for a person disabled by a mental health condition or emotional disorder. Emotional support animals are typically dogs, but are sometimes cats or other animals.
People who qualify for emotional support animals have verifiable psychological disabilities that substantially interfere with major life activities, such as anxiety disorder, major depressive disorder, or panic attacks.
An emotional support animal differs from a service animal. Service animals are trained to perform specific tasks (such as helping a blind person walk), while emotional support animals receive no specific training. (It therefore stands that in the setting of mental illness, whether or not the animal is a “service animal” vs. an emotional support animal would hinge on whether the dog is formally trained to do something specific to mitigate the mental illness.) Any animal that provides support, well-being, comfort, or aid, to an individual through companionship, non-judgmental positive regard, and affection may be regarded as an emotional support animal.
In the US, disabled people with emotional support animals are exempted from certain rules against having animals in most housing and travel situations. To be afforded protection under United States federal law, the owners of emotional support animals must meet the federal definition of disability and must have a letter from their healthcare providers stating that they are being treated for a disabling condition and that their emotional support animals improve or benefit some component of the disability.
Emotional support animals are typically dogs and cats, but may be members of other animal species. It is thus necessary to perform an individualized assessment of the specific assistance animal to determine if it poses a direct threat of harm or would cause substantial property damage, and not to assume that an animal is excluded based upon breed or species. Although a wild or exotic animal that poses an increase risk of disease or potential attack upon other people may potentially be excluded, courts have recognized species including guinea pigs and miniature horses as emotional support animals.
Laws and regulations that allow service animals to be taken into business or onto aircraft may give the service provider discretion to deny admission to unusual service animals. For example, under the Air Carrier Access Act, airlines are never required to accommodate unusual animals such as snakes and other reptiles, ferrets, rodents, and spiders within the passenger cabin of an airplane.
In 2018, Delta Air Lines banned pit bulls and similar breeds of dogs from the passenger compartment of their aircraft as emotional support animals, after a pit bull dog traveling as an emotional support animal bit two employees.
There is no requirement under federal law for an emotional support animals to wear a tag, harness or clothing of any type indicating they are emotional support animals.
Training and Tasks
Emotional support animals do not need to have any special training.
There are no training requirements for emotional support animals. Emotional support animals typically have no training beyond what would be expected for the same type of animal. Emotional support animals need not perform any tasks other than what a pet of the same species would perform, and may display unwanted behaviors, such as defecating in inappropriate places, growling and barking at people, or biting them.
Both poorly trained emotional support animals and poorly trained pets that are being fraudulently passed off as emotional support animals represent a threat to the health, safety, and function of both people and trained service animals.
People who qualify for emotional support animalsan ESA Dog have an emotional or mental disorder, but the disability may not be visible at a particular point in time.
To qualify for an emotional support animal in the US, the owners of ESA Dogs must have an emotional or mental disability that is certified by a mental health professional such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other licensed mental health care provider. These are often invisible disabilities, because they are normally not visible.
The owner’s mental health impairment must be substantial enough to produce disability, rather than discomfort or a desire to have a pet. Furthermore, for the provider to certify the animal, non-fraudulently, the emotional support animal’s presence must provide a significant benefit, that makes the difference between the person functioning adequately and not.
Since a 2003 rule change by the US Department of Transportation, the normal documentation is a letter from psychologist or other mental healthcare professional who is currently providing treatment to the passenger. Airlines are not obligated to accept certificates or letters that are more than one year old, and may require that the certification be provided on the letterhead of a licensed mental health professional or doctor who is specifically treating the passenger’s mental or emotional disability.
The ability to avoid extra costs, such as paying damage deposits for pets in a rental apartment or extra baggage fees for taking an animal on an airplane, has incentivized what one journalist described as “mass cheating”. Especially since a woman tried to board a flight with her peacock, named Dexter, in January 2018, airlines have substantially tightened their requirements.
In some US states, providing a letter, registry, or certificate to a person who is not disabled is a crime.
In the U.S., legal protection against housing discrimination is afforded to mentally disabled persons under two federal statutes: Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Federal Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA) of 1988. These statutes, and the corresponding case law, create the general rule that a landlord cannot discriminate against disabled persons in housing, and if a reasonable accommodation will enable a disabled person to equally enjoy and use the rental unit, the landlord must provide the accommodation. Persons with disabilities may request a reasonable accommodation, such as a waiver of a “no pets policy”, for any assistance animal, including an emotional support animal, under both the FHAA and Section 504.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act was enacted in 1973 and made broad and sweeping statements that discrimination against the disabled in any program receiving federal financial assistance was illegal. However, it was not until 1988 when the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) created regulations under the statute. Section 504 states:
No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States…shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.
In the context of housing discrimination, this statute creates the rule that public housing authorities cannot deny housing to a disabled person solely because of his or her disability, and that if a reasonable accommodation can be made to make housing available to a disabled person, the landlord is required to make the accommodation. Even though the statute does not expressly use the phrase “reasonable accommodation”, it has been read into the statute by case law and HUD regulations interpreting the statute.
To establish that a “no pets” waiver for an emotional support animal is a reasonable accommodation under Section 504, the tenant must: have a disability, be “otherwise qualified” to receive the benefit, be denied the benefit solely because of the disability, and the housing authority must receive federal financial assistance. Courts have held that “otherwise qualified” means that the tenant must be able to meet the requirements of the program in spite of the handicap. Also, the tenant must be able to meet the general rules of tenancy, such as cleaning up after the animal and walking the animal in designated areas.
The Majors and Whittier Terrace courts established the foundational principles that a tenant can be “otherwise qualified” under Section 504 despite an inability to comply with a “no pets” policy, and that a waiver of a “no pets” policy can be a reasonable accommodation under Section 504. However, several courts have consistently held that a tenant requesting an emotional support animal as a reasonable accommodation must demonstrate a relationship between his or her ability to function and the companionship of the animal. This required nexus between the disability and the emotional support animal has been refined by several courts. For instance, in Janush v. Charities Housing Development Corp (N.D. Ca., 2000), the U.S. Northern District Court of California held the reasonable accommodation is a fact-based, and not species-based, issue. In Nason v. Stone Hill Realty Association (1996), a Massachusetts trial court recognized that there were more reasonable accommodations to lessen the effects of a person’s disability, other than keeping an emotional support animal, and therefore denied the tenant’s motion for preliminary injunction. Courts have held the emotional distress expected to occur if a person is forced to give up his or her emotional support animal will not support a reasonable accommodation claim.
Since a violation of Section 504 requires the housing authority to receive federal funding, this act did not cover private housing providers. This legislative gap existed until 1988 when Congress passed the Fair Housing Act Amendments.
Fair Housing Act Amendments
Whereas only housing authorities receiving federal financial assistance are subject to Section 504, both public and private housing authorities are subject to the provisions of the Fair Housing Act. Enacted as part of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 legislation, the Fair Housing Act (FHA) focused on housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, or gender; in 1988, however, the Federal Fair Housing Act Amendments (FHAA) expanded this scope to include handicapped persons. The FHAA states that it is unlawful “to discriminate in the sale or rental…of a dwelling to any buyer or renter because of a handicap of that buyer or renter, a person residing in or intending to reside in that dwelling after it is so sold, rented, or made available, or any person associated with that buyer or renter.” Further, it is discrimination for any person to: “refuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, when such accommodations may be necessary to afford a handicapped person equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling unit, including public and common use areas.” Thus, like Section 504, the FHAA requires landlords to make reasonable accommodations for tenants.
Additionally, the FHAA, in section 3602(h) defines handicap, with respect to a person, as:
- a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more of such person’s major life activities;
- a record of having such an impairment; or
- being regarded as having such an impairment.
The term “major life activities” has been interpreted broadly to include those “activities that are of central importance to daily life,” such as “seeing, hearing, walking, breathing, performing manual tasks, caring for one’s self, learning, speaking, and reproducing.” The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development(HUD) is responsible for administering the FHAA; the Attorney General and private individuals may enforce it.
To establish a prima facie case of housing discrimination under the FHAA: the tenant must have a qualifying disability, the landlord knew of the handicap or should reasonably be expected to know of it, accommodation of the handicap may be necessary to afford the tenant an equal opportunity to use and enjoy the dwelling, and the landlord must deny the request, such as refusing to waive the “no pets” policy.
The second element, that the landlord knew of the handicap or should have known of it, places an affirmative burden on the tenant to request the reasonable accommodation, such as a waiver of a “no pets” policy for an emotional support animal. A tenant wishing to obtain a waiver of a “no pets” policy for an emotional support animal may meet this burden by providing a letter from his or her physician or mental health professional: stating that the tenant has a mental disability, explaining that the animal is needed to lessen the effects of the disability, and requesting that the animal be allowed in the rental unit as a reasonable accommodation for the mental disability. Landlords are entitled to ask for supporting materials which document the need for an emotional support animal. Mere emotional distress that would result from having to give up an animal because of a “no pets” policy will not qualify under federal law. Instead, there must be a link, or a nexus, between the animal and the disability. The nexus between the animal and the disability is analyzed under the third element of an FHAA housing discrimination case, known as the necessity requirement, and requires that the accommodation will affirmatively enhance a disabled tenant’s quality of life by ameliorating the effects of the disability. So long as the requested accommodation does not constitute an undue financial or administrative burden for the landlord, or fundamentally alter the nature of the housing, the landlord must provide the accommodation.
Although the Fair Housing Act covers both multi- and single-family detached home, the sale or rental of a single family dwelling by an owner is exempt from the statute. There are two exceptions to this exemption, however. One is that the exception will not apply if the private individual owner owns more than three single-family homes. The other exception to this exemption is the use of a real estate agent or a broker to rent out the home.
A tenant may be awarded actual and punitive damages, injunctions, and attorney fees at the discretion of the court for a landlord’s violation of the FHAA.
Americans with Disabilities Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) allows people with disabilities to bring their service animals in public places. However, the ADA only extends these protections to dogs that have been “individually trained” to “perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability,” which is the definition of service animals under 28 C.F.R. § 36.104. Since emotional support animals are typically not trained for an individual’s specific disability and since emotional support animals might not be dogs, they do not receive the protections of the ADA. A public place can therefore deny an emotional support animal admission.
In situations where the ADA and the FHAA/Section 504 apply simultaneously (e.g., a public housing agency, sales or leasing offices, or housing associated with a university or other place of education), housing providers must meet their obligations under both the reasonable accommodation standard of the FHAct/Section 504 and the service animal provisions of the ADA.
The lack of training for emotional support animals has also led to controversy in the courts. Specifically, there is controversy over whether the ADA definition of service animal, with its requirement of training, applies to reasonable accommodation claims for animals under the FHAA. However, HUD administrative judges have ruled in favor of emotional support animals, despite their lack of training, as being reasonable accommodations. Additionally, several courts have also ruled that untrained assistance animals are reasonable accommodations under the FHAA. Yet, there are cases that have held an assistance animal, in order to be considered a reasonable accommodation under the FHAA, must be trained.
Many landlords have “no pets” policies for their rental properties, and many landlords that allow pets impose restrictions on the type and size of pets that tenants are allowed to bring into the rental property. Many landlords are reluctant to waive their pet policies and restrictions, even when requested by a tenant who is requesting accommodation of a mental or emotional disability.
Landlords may be concerned that waiving a “no pet” policy for one tenant will inspire many others to claim mental illnesses and the need for emotional support animals. Landlords may believe that as more tenants have animals on the property, odors and noises from the animals may deter other tenants from renting and thus lower the value of the rental property. Landlords may also believe that making exceptions to a “no pets” policy for a tenant’s emotional support animal may confuse other tenants who do not understand why one person was allowed an animal while they were not. However, if a tenant documents the need for an emotional support animal under the Fair Housing act or state law, and the landlord is not exempt from those laws, the landlord must allow the tenant to possess an emotional support animal.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Department of Justice have held that “providers may not require persons with disabilities to pay extra fees or deposits as a condition of receiving a reasonable accommodation.” In 1990, a HUD administrative judge enjoined owners of an apartment complex from charging a disabled person a pet deposit fee. The judge held that an auxiliary aid, like a service, guide, or signal dog, may be necessary to afford the individual an equal opportunity to use and enjoy the dwelling unit, including public and common areas. Accordingly, when a tenant qualifies for a service animal or emotional support animal, a landlord may not charge the tenant additional fees in association with the presence of the animal in the rental property. This prohibition extends to pet deposits and fees, even when those fees are charged to other tenants who have pets.
A landlord may charge a tenant for damage cause to a rental property by the tenant’s emotional support animal, and may deduct the cost of repairs from the tenant’s security deposit, but may not increase the security deposit based upon the tenant’s possession of an emotional support animal.
Exceptions may apply to a landlord’s obligation to allow a tenant to possess an emotional support animal. For example, owner-occupied buildings with four or fewer rental units are exempt from the federal Fair Housing Act. The Fair Housing Act also exempts private owners of single-family housing sold or rented without the use of a broker, as long as the owner does not own more than three single family homes, as well as housing operated by organizations and private clubs that restrict occupancy to members. Exemptions under state law may be more restrictive than federal exemptions.
Even when the Fair Housing Act applies, circumstances may arise under which a landlord may restrict a tenant from possessing an emotional support animal.
- If a tenant’s emotional support animal compromises the safety of other tenants or their property, or if the animal poses a danger to other tenants, the landlord may not have to allow the tenant in the housing or waive a “no pets” policy.
- If the tenant becomes unable to properly care for his or her emotional support animal, the landlord may be able to restrict the tenant’s continuing possession of the animal.
- If a tenant is neglecting his or her emotional support animal and the neglect rises to a level where the animal is endangered, then there may be a basis for action by the police or animal control. If any animal is being neglected, local law enforcement or animal control can intervene.
- If other, more reasonable alternatives exists to lessen the effects of the disability and the tenant has not provided proper documentation of an emotional support animal, a court may not compel a landlord to waive a no pets policy as an accommodation of the tenant’s disability.
- Even if entitled to possess an emotional support animal, a tenant remains subject to all the other provisions of the lease, including any requirement to maintain his or her residence in a sanitary manner. A landlord may also evict a person with a disability if that person does not comply with legitimate tenancy rules that apply to all tenants.
If the requested accommodation (i.e., the waiver of a “no pets” policy for an emotional support animal) constitutes an undue financial or administrative burden for the landlord, or fundamentally alters the nature of the housing, the landlord may not have to provide the reasonable accommodation. However, as the burden of allowing emotional support animals is generally modest, most landlords have been unsuccessful in arguing a denial of a waiver of a “no pets” policy on the basis of a claimed extreme burden.
College residence halls and dormitories
On April 25, 2013, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development sent notice to its regional offices that public universities are required to comply with the Fair Housing Act, which includes allowing emotional support animals into college dormitories and residence halls. As of 2015, colleges in the United States such as St. Mary’s College of Maryland were trying to accommodate students with a documented need for emotional support animals.
Air travel in the US
Bona fide emotional support animals are also allowed to travel at no additional charge on US airlines, with their disabled owners.
The Air Carrier Access Act established a procedure for modifying pet policies on aircraft to permit a person with a disability to travel with a prescribed emotional support animal, so long as they have appropriate documentation and the animal is not a danger to others and does not interfere with others (through unwanted attention, barking, inappropriate toileting, etc.). “Unusual” animals, including all snakes and other reptiles, can legally be refused.
In regards to airline policies affecting persons flying with animals, most airlines charge fees and require the animal to be in a cage that can fit under the seat; if a caged animal cannot be placed under the seat, the animal flies with the luggage. With emotional assistance animals, on the other hand, they are not required to be caged, nor are people charged for flying with an emotional support animal. In 2017, a quarter million passengers brought emotional support animals with them on just Delta Air Lines.
With the exceptions provided to emotional support animals, many people who do not have a mental disability have tried to bring their animals on a plane and pass them off as emotional support animals. Airlines, like Southwest and JetBlue, however, typically have policies that passengers flying with emotional support animals must follow. While an airline is allowed to require a passenger traveling with an emotional support animal to provide written documentation that the animal is an emotional support animal, the same is not true for a service animal.
Conflicts with passengers with animal allergies
The rights of passengers with emotional disabilities to travel with an animal are specifically enshrined in US law; the rights of passengers who are allergic to those emotional support animals do not have specific protections, and often feel that their right to a safe flight is treated as less important. The Federal Aviation Administration’s advice to airlines prioritizes passengers with service animals, but not household pets, over passengers with allergies to those animals. (It does not mention whether emotional support animals should be treated like trained service animals or like household pets in such an instance.) Passengers who are allergic to dogs, cats, or other animals are usually seated in a different part of the airplane, and may be denied boarding, removed from flights, moved to other flights, or required to provide a letter from a licensed physician, dated with the last 10 days, saying that even if they are exposed to animal dander, they will not die before the flight ends.
Required documentation for airlines
The required documentation for US-based airlines is a letter, printed on a healthcare provider’s letterhead that meets all of the following requirements:
- is from a currently licensed mental health professional,
- is no more than one year old,
- states that the passenger has a mental health-related disability listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders(but need not say which disability the passenger has),
- states that having the animal accompany the passenger is necessary to the passenger’s mental health or treatment or to assist the passenger,
- states that the individual providing the assessment of the passenger is a licensed mental health professional,
- states that the passenger is currently being treatedby this mental health professional, and
- lists the date and type of the professional’s license and the state or jurisdiction in which it was issued.
Writing letters such as this is considered extratherapeutic administrative paperwork, rather than professional care. The specific requirement to have a letter from a healthcare provider that is providing treatment to the passenger excludes all “certificates” or letters from websites that sell unofficial registries without providing professional care to the passenger.
Some airlines, including United and Delta, additionally require passengers traveling with emotional support animals to complete forms provided by the airline, at least 48 hours before departure, that certify that the animal is properly vaccinated, in good health, and has been trained to behave well in public.
Multiple emotional support animals
While there do not seem to be any cases dealing with the issue of multiple emotional support animals, the basic requirements for this accommodation would be the same. Thus, if a disabled person claimed to need multiple emotional support animals, he or she would need documentation supporting this claim from his or her psychologist or other licensed healthcare professional. The practitioner would need to provide documentation that each support animal alleviated some symptom of the disability.
As of 2018, Delta Air Lines limits free travel for emotional support animals to one animal per ticketed passenger.
An emotional support animal may cause problems that a trained assistance dog may not. For instance, due to the lack of training, an emotional support animal may bark at and smell other people, whereas service dogs are trained not to do so. The main controversies are the behavior of some animals, harms to other people, the problem of widespread fraud, and the open scientific question about whether emotional support animals provide significant benefit.
People with a different type of invisible disability – allergy to animal dander – have suffered from allergic attacks triggered by emotional support animals.
Although there is general support for individuals being able to have pets, and widespread belief that owning an animal makes pet owners happy, there is concern about people abusing the system by acquiring an emotional support animal even though they are legally not considered disabled. According to one survey, Americans generally believe that a majority of emotional support animals serve a legitimate need, but the more experience the respondents had with service animals and emotional support animals, the more aware they were of abuse. The prevalence of abuse and the rising popularity of emotional support animals has increased the number of animals in public places where animals are normally not allowed. Multiple dangerous incidents reported in the media, such as a large emotional support dog mauling another passenger on a flight, have led to a backlash against people with disabilities, including people with well-trained service dogs.
Lack of scientific evidence
Although the concept is popular and many owners attribute improvements to their animals, there is no solid scientific evidence that untrained emotional support dogs provide any significant benefit to people with mental or emotional disabilities. Interacting with an animal may reduce perceived emotional distress for some people, but the scientific research is limited, of low scientific quality, and what little research exists suggests that the benefit, if any, is smaller than its proponents hoped. A small number of studies have found that emotional support animals increased their owners’ distress. There is no research at all on unusual animals, such as hamsters.
Requests for letters to obtain exemption from airline baggage fees or no-pet housing rules can also damage the owner’s therapeutic relationship with the psychologist or other mental healthcare provider, regardless of whether the request is approved or denied. Ethically, providers of psychotherapy may choose to recommend an emotional support animal for the people they are treating if it will play a temporary part in a larger treatment plan, but not as a form of permanent palliation of symptoms. For permanent situations, therapists often refer the client to a neutral, independent psychologist, who can determine whether the person is disabled and whether an emotional support animal would be appropriate. This process is not a careless rubber-stamping of the request; the neutral, dependent provider should review the client’s records, interview the client, consult with the therapist, and do whatever additional testing is necessary to determine the extent of disability and the appropriateness of the recommendation, and, if necessary, be willing andable to defend the diagnosis and decision to prescribe the animal in court.
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