Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Basics
Unlike most types of assistance animals, such as service dogs, ESAs are not required to have any kind of specialized training or experience but I require that your canine has:
- Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certification,
- Up-to-date Shot Records, and is
Recognized as a reasonable accommodation for a person with a disability under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), here’s what the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), a government agency overseeing the FHA, has to say about Emotional Support Animals:
The Department’s position has been that animals necessary as a reasonable accommodation do not necessarily need to have specialized training. Some animals perform tasks that require training, and others provide assistance that does not require training.
There are two main federal laws applicable to ESAs and their owners, these include the Air Carrier Access Act and the Fair Housing Act.
It is important that anyone considering obtaining an ESA letter be aware of the laws that apply to owners and what they should expect from business owners under the law.
Flying Laws 101: The Air Carrier Access Act
As long as ESA owners provide verified identification for their Emotional Support Animal, airlines cannot refuse transportation or require advance notice before offering service to individuals who are disabled emotionally, mentally, or physically.
Housing Laws 101: The Fair Housing Act
Commonly known as FHA, this law requires apartments and housing communities that ordinarily restrict pets to make “reasonable accommodation” for ESAs.
A landlord cannot deny housing to a verified ESA owner AND cannot charge an advance deposit or fees for ESAs with the exception the ESA owner is neglecting the animal or significant damage is done to the apartment/house.