Emotional Support Animal FAQs
The information below is subject to change. Please check your local, state, and federal laws.
Emotional Support Animal (ESA)
ESAs provide therapeutic support to those with emotional or psychological disabilities. ESAs may also be pets and include a variety of different types of animals. ESAs are not individually trained to perform specific tasks, or recognize signs or symptoms, like Service Dogs are. Two specific federal laws are applicable to ESAs: the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) and the Fair Housing Act (FHA).
If you're interested in becoming a therapy team, look for organizations in your local area that may assist you with certifying your pet. In the San Diego area, Love on a Leash offers such opportunities.
*information in the chart may be subject to change and/or restrictions.
What’s the Difference Between a Service, Emotional Support, and a Therapy Animal?
Many people commonly confuse or interchangeably misuse the terms service animal, emotional support animal, assistance animal, and a therapy or psychiatric animal. The key to understanding these differences pertains to three important U.S. federal laws: Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), and Fair Housing Act (FHA).
What is The Fair Housing
According to the Fair Housing Amendment Act, a landlord should not discriminate against any individual who has documentation from a mental health professional illustrating their need for an emotional support animal in housing. Housing Providers must provide a “reasonable accommodation” for persons with disabilities under both the Fair Housing Act and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1974, according to the US department of Housing and Urban Development.
The Fair Housing Amendment Act of 1988 establishes a procedure for modifying “no pets” policies in most types of housing to permit a person with a disability to keep an animal for emotional support. In housing that allows pets but charges supplemental rent or deposits for them, these fees must be waived. The ESA’s owner can be charged for actual damage done by the animal, but they may not require the applicant to pay a fee or a security deposit in order to keep the animal.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity investigates complaints from the public alleging denials of reasonable accommodation requests to live with assistance animals.
Can I take my emotional support animal into restaurants or other public places?
Emotional support animals are only intended for in home companionship, whereas service dogs are given unique access to both private and public establishments. Please check with the establishment to verify if they allow ESAs into the establishment. It is recommended that you carry your ESA prescription with you and have your ESA wear an ESA harness.
ESAs are not exempt from pet airfare fees.