I started this blog with one daughter, kept it up with the other, to spend time together doing something we enjoyed.
However, things change and people evolve. My daughters are older, busier, and not as interested in writing.
From now on this blog will be mostly mom with occasional contributions from my daughters and maybe even my husband.
Nothing else will change. We'll still focus on sharing fun places to go, fun things to do, and more, and we would  still love to hear your views too

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Emotional Support Animals

The following is a guest post and does not necessarily represent the views of Says Me Says Mom. We have been compensated for this post.

What is an ESA?

Emotional support animals have special rights for housing and travel (read more), but what exactly is an emotional support animal and how does someone get one? Many people confuse emotional support animals with service animals, but their rights are very different. Emotional support animals provide therapeutic benefit to their owners with qualifying mental conditions like anxiety and depression and require an ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional. Find out more about what an ESA is.

Emotional Support Animal Laws

The Americans with Disabilities Act aims to prevent discrimination against those with disabilities in every aspect of public life ranging from schooling and transportation to businesses. Under this federal law, areas open to the general public need to provide reasonable accommodation to disabled individuals. The Americans with Disabilities Act has two laws surrounding emotional support animals, the Fair Housing Act, and the Air Carrier Access Act.

The Fair Housing Act

The Fair Housing Act prevents landlords from discriminating against tenants for having an emotional support animal, even if the housing complex does not usually allow pets. The tenant is responsible for any damaged caused by their emotional support animal. Landlords cannot charge a pet fee or pet deposit. 

Air Carrier Access Act

The Air Carrier Access Act allows emotional support animals to travel with their owners on airplanes, in the air cabin. An emotional support animal can sit with their owner, in their lap or in the space in front of their seat, instead of being confined to a carrier or having to travel in the cargo hold. The airlines cannot charge a pet fee, but the emotional support animal must be well-behaved. 

What do ESAs Do?

Emotional support animals improve the mental health and well-being to their owners through their calming presence. They help reduce stress and anxiety. ESAs do not have to be trained as a service animal and are only allowed in pet-friendly places, unlike a service dog that can accompany its owner in any area open to the general public.

How to Get an ESA

All you need is a valid letter from a licensed mental health professional to make your pet an emotional support animal. To be eligible for an emotional support animal, you need to have a qualifying diagnosed (or diagnosable) mental condition and explain how your pet helps you cope with the symptoms of your disorder. Any animal can technically be an emotional support animal, but many therapists only recognize the therapeutic benefit of common pets like dogs and cats. If you an emotional support animal would help you, take the Certapet 5-Minute PreScreening to see if you qualify and connect with an LMHP practicing in your area. 
Emotional support animals are important for the mental health of their disabled owners. They are allowed to live in housing that does not allow pet and travel with their owners on planes.  Emotional support animals are not service dogs and cannot go with their owners in places that do not allow pets like grocery stores or restaurants. They do not need any training, as a service dog would. 

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