The most common myths about Emotional Support Animals

Jan 12, 2021 | Dogs, Emotional Support Animals, Mental Health, Service Dogs

Anyone can get ESA

You are eligible for an emotional support animal only if you have a recognized mental illness diagnosed by a therapist.
To get an ESA, you must be evaluated by a licensed mental health professional, whether in the office or remotely.


Emotional Support Animals and Service Animals are one and the same

Although ESAs and service animals are great companion animals, they have very different functions.
Service animals are specially trained to perform tasks that keep the owner safe.
Emotional support animals do not require any special training.
They are more suited to provide a general emotionally supportive influence. And they also help with both physiological and psychological types of various illnesses.

Emotional Support Animals are allowed everywhere

Wrong again. While service animals are allowed everywhere with their owners, the same is not true for ESAs. The American Disabilities Act (ADA) ensures that service animals are allowed in public and private places, regardless of individual restrictions.

The same permits do not apply to ESAs, and they are only allowed to enter private areas such as hotels, stores, and restaurants if approved by the business. It is up to the ESA owner to verify, prior to arrival with his or her animal, whether or not he or she will be allowed to enter the establishment, and whether or not he or she needs to pay an additional fee in the case of hotels.

The laws that do provide for the use of ESAs are the Aircraft Carrier Access Act (ACA) and the Fair Housing Act (FHA). These laws allow people with ESA to live in any rental housing, regardless of pet policy, and to fly on an airplane without having to pay for a pet (depending on airline rules).


ESAs must wear a vest to show their status

There is a perception that their cat or dog should wear a vest while in public to demonstrate their status as an emotional support animal.
However, this is not required. The only document required to demonstrate emotional support animal status is an ESA letter provided by the therapist. However, the owner may choose to have his or her cat or dog wear a vest, but it is not required.

A landlord has the right to refuse to provide ESA if he or she believes that the tenant is not disabled

ESA owners do not have all the rights that service animal owners have, but the right to live with their assistance animal is protected by federal law.
If the renter can provide an ESA letter, which is written confirmation from a therapist that the renter has a medical need for the animal, the landlord has no right to refuse to keep the animal. If the landlord denies the tenant after the tenant has met the conditions required by the FHA, it is considered discrimination and a violation of federal law.


Only a vest is required to obtain an ESA

Emotional Support Animals do not need formal training, just basic obedience. However, they do require a letter from a licensed mental health professional. LMHP will evaluate whether the animal improves the mental health of its owner who has been diagnosed with a mental health disorder, such as anxiety or depression. Vests and badges are not enough and are not always necessary.


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